Update: The Marvel Cinematic Universe's new big bad Kang has a comic book history filled with twists and turns, retcons and time travel paradoxes, and a whole lot of variants of himself.
You can read all about the many different incarnations of Kang - including what we know of his history so far here, but the key is, so far...
Because for the first time in the August-debuting eponymous limited series Kang the Conqueror, Marvel is going to attempt to tell the long-time Avengers villain's definitive origin story, and as you can see by the preview pages, Doctor Doom figures prominently.
Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and artist Carlos Magno have been tasked with putting all the puzzle pieces together, and now Marvel has released the first six pages of their debut issue, where readers meet a teenage Nathaniel Richards as we get into the head of the future time despot and learn what sets him off on his journey.
Check out those pages in our gallery below and keep scrolling for more information about the limited series, and a gallery of 12 Kang the Conqueror #1 variant covers, befitting a villain whose whole thing is variants of himself.
Original story follows...
Kang the Conqueror is one of Marvel Comics' most enigmatic and ever-evolving characters, with a legacy of time travel and taking on new identities that has made his history somewhat hard to piece together. Now, in August, Marvel will give Kang a definitive origin story in his own self-titled limited series from Star Trek: Year Five writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, who will make their Marvel Comics debut working with artist Carlos Magno.
"This August, it's time to tell the definitive origin story of one of Marvel's greatest villains: KANG THE CONQUEROR!" Marvel's announcement states.
"The Avengers and Fantastic Four foe will star in his first-ever solo series that will tackle the complex saga behind the universe's most fearsome time-travelling menace," it continues. "Together, this all-star creative team will unravel Kang's enormous legacy from his expansive backstory to his various alternate selves, tying everything together and catapulting him into his biggest era yet."
Kang is having something of a renaissance in the current Marvel Universe. Though he debuted all the way back in 1964's Avengers #8 and has been a regular menace to the team for decades, his many guises and constantly changing status quo have kept him somewhat out of the limelight.
In August, Kang is set to star in a new arc of Fantastic Four kicking off in #35 which celebrates the team's 60th anniversary, and that month will now include the debut of Kang's first starring title.
"The man called Kang the Conqueror has been a pharaoh, a villain, a warlord of the spaceways, and even—on rare occasions—a hero. Across all timelines, one fact seemed absolute: Time means nothing to Kang the Conqueror," reads Marvel's official description of Kang the Conqueror #1.
"But the truth is more complex. Kang is caught in an endless cycle of creation and destruction dictated by time and previously unseen by any but the Conqueror himself," it continues. "A cycle that could finally explain the enigma that is Kang. And a cycle that begins and ends with an old and broken Kang sending his younger self down a dark path…"
Writers Lanzing and Kelly state that telling Kang's origin is a "dream come true," and a story that's been brewing between them for years.
"Time may mean nothing to Kang, but Kang means everything to us. This is the book we've been wanting to write for years," Lanzing states. "It's a total dream come true for Collin and I to be making our Marvel debut - we're best friends who first met through a mutual love of Young Avengers, Runaways, and Ultimate Spider-Man."
Young Avengers notably featured Kang as one of the team's founders in his guise as Iron Lad - and as one of the villains as the older Kang arrived to force his younger self Iron Lad to return to his own time.
"But to make our first mark with a character as storied as Kang the Conqueror, on a very personal pitch we never in a million years thought would be greenlit, is a genuine honor," Lanzing continues.
"Carlos Magno is delivering jaw-dropping work that recalls the exacting detail and operatic emotion of Kang's co-creator Jack Kirby. We're genuinely stunned by every new page. Add the brilliant colors by Espen Grundetjern, letters by the Marvel master Joe Caramanga, and the insightful leadership of our editor Alanna Smith, and you've got a team worthy of one of Marvel's greatest unsung characters."
Kelly has his own words of excitement for Kang the Conqueror, shedding a bit of light on what to expect - and seemingly confirming a long-believed fact of Kang's past.
"Kang has been a nefarious force in the Marvel Universe nearly as long as it's existed, but the true crime here is that he's never had a solo series. The fact that we're the ones who get to bring Kang's complete story to life for the first time is an incredible honor," Kelly states.
"KANG THE CONQUEROR isn't just an origin story; this is a life story. When young and jaded Nathaniel Richards discovers the ancient lair of his Latvarian ancestor Victor Von Doom, his life is changed forever by a man he should never have met - KANG HIMSELF!"
This seems to confirm that Kang is indeed the man once known as Nathaniel Richards, and a descendant of both Reed Richards and Doctor Doom - concepts that have been hinted at but never fully confirmed due to the nature of Kang's time travel adventures.
"From the last days of the Cretaceous to the war-torn world of Jack Kirby's year 4,000 - from ancient Egypt to the stars themselves - KANG THE CONQUEROR is a story that unpacks the told - and untold - moments of Kang's life through a human lens," Kelly concludes. "Powered by his love of the enigmatic Ravonna Renslayer, and fueled by the hatred of who he will become, this is a cross-time epic for everyone who has ever rejected who they were supposed to be."
Kang the Conqueror's time in the spotlight won't end with his upcoming comic book appearances, as he'll also make his MCU debut as the villain of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, played by Jonathan Majors.
As to those covers, the main cover is by Mike Del Mundo, with a standard variant cover by Ryan Stegman, Jay Leisten, and Jason Keith and another standard variant by Skottie Young. Then there is a Headshot variant cover by Todd Nauck and Rachelle Rosenberg, and eight Stormbreaker variant covers by Natacha Bustos, Juann Cabal and Federico Blee, Carmen Carnero and Matthew Wilson, Joshua Cassara and Dean White, Iban Coello and Alejandro Sànchez, Patrick Gleason, and Alejandro Sànchez, Peach Momoko, and finally R.B. Silva and David Curiel.
Check them all out here:
Kang the Conqueror #1 goes on sale August 18. Stay tuned to Newsarama for Marvel's full August 2021 solicitations, coming later this month.
Kang didn't top Newsarama's list of the best Avengers villains of all time ... but he came pretty close.