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The Once And Future Kang!
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There's an awful lot of recapping in this comic, and that's where we find Doctor Doom, in a re-telling of his first meeting with Rama Tut way back in Fantastic Four Annual #2. John Buscema re-draws a panel from that issue from a different angle, this time showing Doom's rescue from space from his own perspective. My favourite aspect of this page is that Roger Stern has Rama Tut saying that this meeting happened when "I had just finished removing my ceremonial beard." Stern is so concerned with tidying up the continuity that he takes time out to explicitly explain why Rama Tut looked slightly different in his second appearance from his first.
That's all for Doom in this issue - he doesn't even get any dialogue! After that there are pages and pages of further recapping, which I take to be mostly re-tellings of previous stories - I can't say for sure because I've only read every Doctor Doom story up to this point, not every Kang story. There are a few story quotations that I do recognise though, and John Buscema uses rounded panel borders to indicate that these are historical re-tellings, so I assume most or all of the panels in this style are the same. For instance, he redraws a specific panel from Rama Tut's first appearance in Fantastic Four #19 in this way. The middle picture above is the same panel redrawn three years earlier by John Byrne in Fantastic Four #273, where he slipped Rama Tut's origin into an alternate future where Reed Richard's father was The Warlord, a ruler who saved civilisation on Earth, and Buscema re-draws several panels from that too. So this means that Rama Tut was distantly related to Reed Richards, and if you think that makes things complicated it is as nothing to the general shenanigans of the story itself. Kang The Conqueror has been zipping about through time accidentally creating new realities with divergent versions of himself in them, divergent versions which he has frankly no time for. Who among us can honestly say they have never looked back at younger versions of ourselves and thought "They're such IDIOTS!" This version of Kang has managed to kill almost all of the other versions of himself except one, who is being held in a paralysis beam with The Avengers. The superheroes (who spend most of the issue literally standing around doing nothing) eventually manage to escape using the tried and tested superhero methodologies of Trying Really Hard and also Never Giving Up, which allows the other Kang to get away too. A big fight breaks out and Kang Senior kills Kang Junior, at which point Immortus turns up! Immortus is yet another version of Kang from the far future, who Kang's girlfriend Ravonna has secretly been working with all along because he's the good version of him, whereas all the others are idiots for whom Immortus also has very little time. I love that bit of dialogue - "Oh do be still!"
So, just to be clear, Reed Richard's Dad went sideways in time to an alternate Earth which he saved from devastation. Centuries later his ancestor, inspired by The Fantastic Four, went back to Egyptian times to become Rama Tut. When he was defeated he then went forward in time where he met, and rescued Doctor Doom - thankfully Roger Stern explicitly says that Rama Tut was fibbing when he said he and Doom might be the same person, which is some relief at least. Rama Tut, now inspired by Doctor Doom, built himself a suit of armour, and went back and forth in time creating loads of idiotic versions of himself which he felt duty bound to kill, only to get told off and then tricked into Limbo by Immortus, yet another version of himself from the far future who's decided to stop being an idiot and instead be a bit of a dick instead.
With a story as straightforward and sensible as this, you can see why Marvel Studios are so keen to have Kang as the next big villain! Joking aside, it's all written in a thoroughly entertaining way, much like Byrne's excercises in continuity-grabbing, and it looks great thanks to John Buscema. It does feel a little weird to see an absolute legend of superhero comics re-drawing panels by creators who would have grown up reading his stuff, but it's all lovely to look at, with Tom Palmer's inks keeping it recognisably Buscema with a "modern" (for the late 80s) sheen to it.
The only thing this story is lacking is more Doctor Doom, but there's plenty of him to come soon!
link to information about this issue
posted 11/6/2021 by Mark Hibbett
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