Kang the Conqueror (Part 1).
Given the benefit of hindsight equal to such a task, life seemingly has an odd habit of proving people wrong in the long run. And it is with just such an intention that I now post the following: Amongst the non- comics-reading public, Kang the Conqueror’s name is unlikely to ever attain a comparable level of recognition as widespread as that of Dr. Doom or Magneto. More's the pity, then, because I feel that Kang shares many of the self-same qualities which make Marvel's best villains all so memorable. The character exhibits a similar sense of majesty and grandeur, whilst also retaining that air of unspoken dignity in the face of tragic circumstances which ultimately renders him relatable to the reader.
Perhaps it is this aforementioned lack of a more general renown - both with non-fans, and sometimes seemingly even amongst Marvel's own creative staff (in regards to an almost criminal underuse of the character) - which helps to elevate Kang's status (in my eyes, at least) as something of an underdog. Nevertheless, to merely suggest that this character's back-story is both voluminous and convoluted, and simply leave it at that, would be a gross understatement. I'd be remiss in any attempt I could make to adequately summarize, in a more-or-less thorough manner, Kang's expansive history, extensive motivations and all his capabilities... Therefore, I'll instead try to focus on that one most-singular facet of the character which I personally consider to be the most fascinating.
Now as a fellow diehard fanboy myself, I understand all too well one's natural inclination to nitpick an article such as this for each and every incongruity and omission - but the constraints inherent to recounting, in text form, what is so fundamentally a visual medium (i.e. comics/sequential art) means that absolute, one-hundred percent accuracy in relation to the original source material was perhaps never even realistically achievable. Consequently, I must humbly entreat the reader to make certain allowances for whatsoever liberties I might take - whether inadvertently, or not - in the following retelling. In return, I shall spare you the headache of having to read about events which - in continuity - take place in the future, by referring to them using the past-tense (versus future-tense) instead.
In the 31st Century, Nathaniel Richards (distant descendant of the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards) lived up to the villainous epithet by which he is better known, insofar as managing to conquer the entire universe. Take a moment to fully consider all the implications of that statement: A lone human being subjugated - not just a single solar system, nor even a mere galaxy... but absolutely everything, everywhere.
And yet, even this was not enough. In what should have been his moment of greatest triumph, Kang instead lamented that his victory ultimately felt like an empty one. For although he now reigned supreme over all of creation, the one thing he had failed to capture... was the heart of the woman he loved.