Written by: Jed MacKay
Art by: Kev Walker, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy
Colors by: Marte Gracia
Letters by: VC’s Ariana Maher
Cover price: $5.99
Release Date: December 29, 2021
Timeless #1 explores the man behind the variant as a professor with deep knowledge of supervillains is allowed by Kang the Conqueror to be his companion and historical biographer.
Was It Good?
Timeless #1 is one of those comics that set out with one or more goals in mind that go beyond the story it’s telling on the page. From what I can tell, there are two specific goals here.
First, Timeless #1 is setting out to educate readers about why and how Kang is potentially one of the most dangerous villains in all of time and space. MacKay does an exceptionally thorough job of developing Kang’s personality, using a hapless yet brilliant professor as an audience insert, to bear witness to Kang’s exploits. Kang has pulled himself out of time and is effectively immortal, but he uses his time-hopping technology to master every skill, every talent, and learn from the best of the best in every arena of human excellence. In so far as athletics, capability, and achievement, Kang is the ultimate human.
Kang as the ultimate human could be taken as the ultimate threat when he turns his attention towards destructive goals. On this point, MacKay succeeds in creating a threat even greater than Doom.
The second goal is capitalizing on Kang’s appearance in the Loki show on Disney+. The success of that goal is less realized because the Kang here is nothing like the Kang in Loki. It seems Marvel/Disney hasn’t quite learned its lesson about getting the different mediums in sync to avoid market confusion. Of the two versions, the Kang here is less quirky, more intimidating, and certainly more arrogant in his place outside of and above reality. If you have to pick a version of Kang to play the villain, MacKay’s version is the clear winner.
The story in this issue is not so much an origin story as it is a day-in-the-life of Kang. Over a week, Professor Kang chooses to record his exploits sees Kang commit acts of great accomplishment and equally great cruelty. When a “pirate timeline” (it’s complicated, better if you just pick up the issue) threatens to destabilize the main timeline, Kang and the professor investigate to find a villain just as ruthless as Kang himself.
Again, the story works and it’s all wrapped up in a single issue (almost), but the timeline disruption gives readers a glimpse into potential futures that may or may not come to pass in other titles. Some of the glimpses look interesting. Others not so much.
Two more points to consider that will make this issue worth your time. The art is excellent. Red flags go off whenever you see a small legion of artists worked on the issue, but if there was a difference in quality from one panel to the next, I couldn’t tell. It looks great and the artist handoffs are effectively invisible. Last but not least, there’s the last page surprise in the professor’s records that points to the return of a certain hero that will make Mick Anglo fans very happy. How or why it will happen is unclear, but it’s unlikely the tease would be dropped if there wasn’t something in the works.
Timeless #1 is a better-than-average one-shot with great art (despite a small army of artists) and a complete story that fully educates the reading audience on why Kang the Conqueror is the most dangerous villain of all time. I’m not a fan of the hefty cover price but there’s a lot to like in this issue, and the last-page teaser is an interesting surprise announcing the advent of a famous character we’ve not seen in years.