2023 Is the Year of Kang
Writer Jed MacKay marks his second straight year with the Conqueror as 2022’s ‘Timeless’ one-shot forecasts Marvel’s future.
While most spend time with friends or family when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, writer Jed MacKay has made a habit of commiserating with a certain time-conquering despot named Kang. For the second year in a row, the MOON KNIGHT (2021) and STRANGE (2022) scribe brought us a one-shot entitled TIMELESS that promised to set up major events in the Marvel Universe for 2023.
We spoke with MacKay about his own ascension within the House of Ideas, as well as the wealth of new additions to the latest installment of TIMELESS, working with a fleet of talented artists, and much more.
Over the last few years, you’ve gone from a real up-and-comer at Marvel to being the guy responsible for heavy-lifting events such as DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE and, of course, TIMELESS. What has that progression been like for you?
JED MACKAY: It's been exciting! There's a certain freedom in working with characters who are further from the central orbit of the Marvel Universe, but on the other hand there's a real excitement in working with characters who are very much the points that the rest of the universe revolves around; trying one's hand at telling stories with characters that are such institutions is pretty heady stuff!
How did this year’s installment of TIMELESS differ from working on last year’s?
JED MACKAY: I think that this year's TIMELESS was a little different in that it was a known quantity; people remembered and (for the most part) liked TIMELESS (2021), so they knew what to expect when it came around again. Of course, when we were putting together the first TIMELESS, it wasn't done with any sense of creating something that we would return to, so when it came time to do it all over again there was a certain challenge in coming up with a new story to accomplish the same goals.
What kind of weight is there on you to set up the events of 2023 in books you’re not necessarily writing?
JED MACKAY: Very little weight, as it turns out—the editorial team simply canvassed the other offices for things that we could include, and I simply put them in the book. In several cases the hints are as much a mystery to me as the readers! [Laughs]
Kang has seen a lot of action lately, both in comics and on screen. Where do you think the fascination with him comes from?
JED MACKAY: Kang is one of the most iconic and greatest villains in Marvel history. He's someone who could have been a one-note, cardboard villain but from his first appearance, there was something that hooked both creators and readers, leading him to appear again and again, each appearance layering new complexities and nuance on him.
Plus, he's one of those guys where his outfit has barely changed. They got it right the first time. The blue face with the lines, the weird helmet, the green and purple, the thigh-high boots–it's an outrageously outlandish outfit that nonetheless has stood the test of time.
What makes Kang unique, particularly in terms of not being a pure villain at heart?
JED MACKAY: I mean, Kang is absolutely a pure villain at heart. Or, at least, to every single other person in the universe except for Kang. He's a character whose selfishness and solipsism are of a magnitude to distort space-time [itself]. To himself, Kang is a hero, but not “hero” as we commonly use the term, but in the old Greek sense, of men and women who strive for excellence and glory regardless of the cost.
How has Kang changed from when you wrote him a year ago?
JED MACKAY: Since then, we come in on a Kang who has grown weary with the grind. Kang, just prior to TIMELESS (2022), had been looking for something to pursue, some new feat of greatness and glory to prove himself in a new way, and when we catch up with him in this year's issue, he's hot on the trail of it.
Where did Myrddin and the Twilight Court come from? This is a pretty massive contribution to the Marvel canon!
JED MACKAY: Kang's a guy who has gone up against the Avengers time and time again. He's not a character who you'd have mixing it up with the street-level guys. So to create a threat that could credibly challenge him, we had to come up with not just a competing mastermind in the form of the mysterious Myrddin; we had to supply an entire team of superhumans in the Twilight Court. It was a lot of fun to come up with the court and tie their respective powers and looks to their legendary names!
Can you give any hints as to the identity of Myrddin and who he will impact moving forward?
JED MACKAY: Well, that would be telling. However, the wizard will not be resting on his laurels after his apparent victory over Kang, so I'm sure that we'll be seeing more of him on his quest, as well as the Twilight Court!
How about any clues toward the Missing Moment?
JED MACKAY: A single moment in time that no time traveler can access, the Missing Moment hides the road to the ultimate prize for the ultimate adventurer. How might one access it? And what prize exactly does it hide? All to be seen in the future…
You worked with Greg Land again this year, but also added Patch Zircher and Salvador Larroca to your list of collaborators. What did each artist bring to the table and how did you cater to their individual strengths?
JED MACKAY: Greg's work on TIMELESS (2022) is some of my favorite work I've seen him do, and not just because it's a book I worked on. He captured the scale of one of Kang's operations: the fleets of ships, the endless legions, the Sturm und Drang of hypertech warfare. Following him, Patch handled most of the “Kang on the run” segments, splashing out crazy action across several different environments, as well as illustrating the preview sections showing off a whole range of characters and wildness. And Salvador took on the final confrontation of the book, getting real down and dirty, taking the action from super-powered shenanigans to gritty fist-fighting action.
One more artist who contributed in a less public-facing capacity is Daniel Acuña. Daniel and I worked together in creating the Twilight Court, and he was the one who came up with such wild and wonderful designs for these strange heroes!
What should we be on the lookout for next as far as seeds dropped during TIMELESS?
JED MACKAY: I suppose you'll just have to wait and see what hits the stands!
The future of the Marvel Universe is already written! On those proverbial stands right now, you can find print and digital copies of TIMELESS (2022) to set up your comics reading in 2023!
The Hype Box
Can’t-miss news and updates from across the Marvel Universe!