Graphic Novel Review: Avengers Unleashed: Kang War One

Avengers Unleashed: Kang War One

Avengers Unleashed: Kang War One - Credit: Archant

Kang is back, and it’s about time...

(Panini Books)

My first introduction to Marvel’s Avengers, way back in the mid-seventies, was their epic battle against Kang the Conqueror during the course of the Celestial Madonna Saga, and then subsequently in Immortas’ Limbo and the Wild West, as penned by legendary scribe Steve Englehart. It was a period of stories which I still firmly believe was an unsurpassed golden age for the team, and was unquestionably responsible for a lifetime of love for the comics medium.

Subsequent Kang appearances have been something of a hit and miss affair, with the real standouts being Kurt Busiek’s Kang Dynasty and Avengers Forever sagas, so the chance to see Mark Waid put his spin on the Conqueror without the same editorial control as he experienced during the godawful The Crossing saga was something to relish.

With a new line-up of Avengers incorporating the likes of Thor (Jane Foster), Captain America (Sam Wilson), Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Hercules, the Vision and the Wasp (Nadia Pym), he was already off to a great start, but shaping a four-dimensional battle of one-upmanship against Kang is inspired.

After all, when you can travel through time, what’s to stop you going back to when your enemy was at their most vulnerable and thwarting their future ambitions? Both the Avengers and Kang take drastic measures to defeat their adversaries, with dire consequences for both…

It’s an exceptional start to what will hopefully be a great Avengers run, and not truncated prematurely like the previous volume (All-New, All-Different Avengers came to an abrupt conclusion during Civil War II). But if there’s anything which prevents this run from becoming an instant classic it’s the artwork by Mike del Mundo, which just doesn’t do justice to the narrative, failing to lift any of the drama off the printed page.

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That said, hopefully subsequent volumes will improve, and we’ll be able to look back in appreciation at another outstanding Avengers run which sits alongside that of Steve Englehart all those decades ago.