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Comic Book / Kang the Conqueror

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Kang the Conqueror is a 2021 Marvel Comics five-issue mini-series written by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, with art by Carlos Magno.

The series shows Kang being caught in an endless cycle of creation and destruction dictated by time, during which an old and broken Kang sends his younger self down a dark path.

Followed by a one-shot Timeless, by Jed MacKay, which focused on Kang and set up Marvel's 2022 publishing slate. A second Timeless one-shot followed the first a year later, setting up the 2023 publishing slate.

Tropes about the character can be found here.

Tropes in Kang the Conqueror:

  • Alternate Self
    • The old and resourceful Kang travels through time to recruit his young self and teach him(self) everything he needs to know.
    • The young Kang finds several variants of the same woman, Ravonna, at different points of the timestream. It's later revealed this happened because Kang attempted to revive her across history and alternate timelines to find one where they can be together.
  • Continuity Nod: The comic opens with Kang mentioning how by the time he was 18, he recovered from a cut throat caused by some bullies after a few months. This was established back in Young Avengers which Kang attempted to alter, causing his 16 year old self to flee to the past and become Iron Lad. Since the now 18 year old Nathaniel doesn't recognise Kang, this implies the comic is set before Kang attempts to alter that event or that when the 16 year old Nathaniel was eventually returned to his time it was made sure he would still suffer the injury.
  • Continuity Snarl: As per usual for Kang, how this comic fits with his established history is difficult. When Nathaniel meets Rama-Tut and a younger Kang, both mention not having any memory of this event and that they only discovered time travel when they were 23. This suggests that Nathaniel's story is that of an alternate Kang, which is reinforced by him later replacing his alternate selves in certain situations and making different choices. However the story ends with him completing the Stable Time Loop that created him, implying that he either replaced the "original" Kang who trained him or this version of Kang is the canonical version while the others were variants.
  • Crapsaccharine World: As Nathaniel, he mentioned that he came from a post-scarcity world where you're free to do whatever you want. Nathaniel ended up getting bullied and having his throat cut by a gang of his school tormentors. Underneath the 30th century wealth and technology is a society that's mouldering away. It finally culminates into a global nuclear war that happens in the 40th century and reduces the future to a new age of barbarism.
  • Conqueror from the Future: Kang is, was, and will become a conqueror, but the book is about a younger Kang attempting and failing to avoid this.
  • Destination Host Unreachable: Ravonna Renslayer reincarnates, but is destined by time to die young. Kang refuses to accept this, and forces time to take her soul and reincarnate her thousands of times to give himself infinite chances to meet and save her. It Goes Horribly Wrong in now giving him infinite chances to see her die or hate and reject him.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Per the solicits, a young Kang will be confronted with an "an old and broken" Kang, as well as be persuaded to fight against Rama-Tut, an older version of him who rules as a Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: The book is about how a young Kang will eventually become the conqueror that everyone knows him as. It's Zig-Zagged however since it isn't a true origin story for the original character, as it instead follows a different version created by Kang altering his own history.
  • Race Lift: Kang continues to meet what appears to be reincarnations of Ravonna, both being black much like the version from Loki (2021).
  • Reincarnation Romance: Kang realises when he meets the original Ravonna that he's in one, noting that despite the different appearance she's the same woman as the Moon Knight in ancient Egypt and the warrior from over a hundred years ago. After her death Kang manipulates time to have her reincarnated across the timestream and alternate timelines with the goal of finding one where he saves her, only for her to either die or turn against him. The final variant of Ravonna was in fact the village leader that had given Nathaniel his face markings after he saved the tribal girl Adi and was soon after killed by Kang.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Nathaniel's attempts to not end up like his future self and refusals to think his actions through only lead him to become Kang anyway.
  • Stable Time Loop: The series end with the young Kang becoming the old version of himself.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Kang meets Ravonna, the one the old Kang used to love, and decides to play things completely opposite to the way he did. Ravonna ends up shot anyway.

Tropes in Timeless:

  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Anatoly doesn't like being called Dr. Petrov.
  • Driven by Envy: What kick-starts the story, as Kang decides to show Anatoly why he is the better and more influential supervillain then Doctor Doom.
  • Point of View: Of Dr. Anatoly Petrov, a professor on supervillians.
  • Field Trip to the Past: Kang takes Anatoly to a number of different times and locations, including the Ice Age, and the future.
  • Foreshadowing: The panel of Kang viewing the various disturbances across the time stream foreshadow several potential events upcoming in the Marvel universe (circa 2022-2023). The 2022 one-shot similarly does this for 2023-2024, while also being a prologue to Jed MacKay's Avengers run.
  • Wham Shot: While reminiscing on the visions of the future Petrov saw in Oracle Base, Petrov wonders "And why is this particular vision imprinted on my mind?" Said vision being The Miracleman logo.