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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

Back in 2006, when ToyBiz was rushing product out the door at the rate of about three new figures per week, the hardest series to find was Fantastic Four Classics Series 2. Bad enough that means we couldn't get the Ultimate versions of Ben, Johnny and Sue Storm, but there were two new villains included, as well: the android Dragon Man and Kang the Conqueror.

Emperor and potentate of vast empires that span hundreds of light years and dozens of dimensions, Kang thrives on the challenge of constantly expanding his power. He is an experienced time traveler, and has seeded the histories of hundreds of worlds with alternate versions of himself, making him functionally immortal. Though he has no in-born super powers, his absolute mastery over far-future super science makes him a match even for the Avengers. He is a master strategist who lives for conflict, and an ever present threat to the safety and freedom of Earth.

Honestly, if Kang was any kind of "master strategist" at all, he'd have already defeated the Avengers long ago. Even if he didn't just travel back to well before their founding and subtly guide public opinion in his own favor, the logical thing to do would be to never let up his attack. The Avengers win a fight? Fine. He could go back to the future, rest and rebuild his forces for a few months, then return to the "present" mere moments after his last defeat - he'd be fresh as a daisy, while the Avengers would be on their last legs. They win again? Repeat the process. Eventually they'd fall, as would anyone else who stood in his way. Now that's strategy!

Since the FFC2 version of Kang was one of the rarest ToyBiz figures, Hasbro has chosen to re-release him, to give fans another shot at picking him up. Of course, this isn't a case like Vision, where it's a new version of the same character - this is a straight re-release of the old figure, right down to the 2005 ToyBiz copyright stamped on his leg. So you were one of the people who bought Kang from a scalper on eBay? Ha! Sucks to be you.

Kang is wearing his usual hideous costume, with purple gloves and thigh-high boots, a purple helmet and a poofy green smock. Ah, Jack Kirby - King of Comics, master of the ungodly eyesore. It seems this particular version of the costume is based on the one he was wearing in the early issues of Young Avengers around that time, so if you got the YA box set, he'll fit in perfectly. The giveaway is the light green hem on the lower edge of his nightie: most other versions have purple below the belt.

It's strange to get a figure with straight ToyBiz-style articulation today (ie, no Hasbro balljoints), but since this is just a re-release, that's what it is. So we have hinged toes, hinged rocker ankles, double knees, balljointed thighs, a swivel waist, hinged torso, hinged fingers in the left hand, pin wrists, peg gloves, double elbows, balljointed shoulders and a balljointed neck. Lots of poseability, and all the joints work well - no sticking or (even worse) snapping. That's a welcome change.

Though the FFC Kang came with a silly gun, this version doesn't. As a fully fledged Marvel Legend, he's got a BAF piece. In his case, it's the chest of Ares. The god of war is clad in a steel breastplate with a skull and crossbones swords symbol in the center. There are thick leather straps running up over his shoulders and across his back, with small silver studs breaking up the black. There are a few scars on the front of the armor, evidence of past battles.

Kang is a fairly must-have character in the Marvel ranks. He's fought with pretty much every incarnation of the Avengers, tangled with the Fantastic Four, threatened the X-Men, Spider-Man, the New Warriors, Dr. Strange... seriously, he's one of the big guns, even if he's not as famous as Red Skull or Doctor Doom. It's good that Hasbro chose to give fans another chance to get Kang, but bad that this Wal*Mart-exclusive series of Legends isn't really very much easier to find than Fantastic Four Classics Series 2 was. Either Kang just can't catch a break, or he's craftier than anyone expected.

-- 02/16/09

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