March 31, 2017
Kamandi Challenge #3
“Bug In Your Ear”
Written by: Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by: Amanda Connor
You were probably thinking to yourself the other day, “Jerry, just who or what is Kamandi and what is the challenge…and what does all this have to do with the DC multiverse?”. Well, as luck would have it, I’m about to tell you…
Kamandi, “The Last Boy on Earth” was created way back in the seventies by none other than the King himself. No, I’m not talking about Elvis. I’m talking about the one and only, Jack “King” Kirby, artist and co-creator of such famous characters, such as Captain America, The Fantastic Four and the Hulk. These titles always enjoyed high sales and critical acclaim but in 1970, a disgruntled Kirby jumped ship from Marvel to DC. When the offices at DC failed to obtain the licensing agreement to publish The Planet of the Apes, Kirby was asked to create something similar. Using a similar story he created for Harvey Comics before Planet of the Apes was written and an unpublished comic strip he created in 1956, he came up with the concept of Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. Kamandi was a young hero placed in a post-apocalyptic world after a planet-wide event destroyed the earth, known as “The Great Disaster”. In this world, humans have reverted to a savage state and intelligent animals now rule. Kamandi set out with the only other intelligent humans he has found to explore the world of Earth A.D. (After Disaster), in hopes of one day restoring civilization. The original run went 59 issues before being cancelled in 1978.
As for the connection to the rest of the DC universe, it came in issue #29. Kamandi encounters a group of apes who worship Superman’s costume. They also tell him stories of how Superman tried to stop the Great Disaster but failed. Kamandi also met Batman in The Brave and the Bold in issues #120 and #157 and Superman in Superman #295, establishing that his costume in issue #29 was indeed, the real deal and that Earth A.D. was an alternate future for Earth-one. Kamandi also made an appearance in Crisis and Infinite Crisis.
Now, fast forward to 2017. As part of DC’s Rebirth and to commemorate Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, DC began a 12-part limited series entitled The Kamandi Challenge with each issue featuring a new creative team. That means twelve different teams writing the next chapter of the previous team, picking up the story from the last and guide the story the way they want. Issue #3 picks up from the last one as Kamandi is hurtling to certain doom, falling from a cliff into the Wild Human Sanctuary. He was chased there after escaping from the tiger people, who were making Kamandi fight gladiator-style in their arena. The tiger people were also worshipping a nuclear warhead to make matters worse but turned out to be a Trojan horse for an armed gorilla, prompting Kamandi’s escape. Fleeing to the Museum of War to obtain a weapon, he encounters a group of mutated crows robbing the place. It’s pretty crazy to see Harley Quinn’s hammer, Green Arrow’s bow and Superman’s cape all here contained within the museum. Kamandi is forced to run and ends up being pursued by Manhunters who kill his companions and well, send him flying over the cliff…
Like I was saying, issue #3 picks up from 2 as Kamandi is falling to earth but is saved by humanoid bats by a group of animals who believe he is a messenger from the gods, getting him safely to the ground. Now, they are ready for the messenger to deliver them to meet God, face to face. Once there though, Kamandi discovers that all is not as it seems with this community named, “The God Watchers”. During his stay here, he receives a clue to the identity of his parents and comes to realize that the Earth is fraught with danger at every turn and not all or who are what they seem. Aided by some newfound companions, Kamandi must travel onward to a new land in spite of warnings to not go there...to the island of the Jaguars of the Sun Cult. Even here, Kamandi must be on guard at all times. All I can say is that by the end of the issue, he’s in store for some big, big trouble. How is he gonna get out of this one?
The Verdict: This title is a lot of fun and part of an exciting concept that allows a whole lot of creative talent to tackle one story. Jimmy Palmiotti does justice to the “King” with interesting characters and ideas that Jack Kirby would approve of. Artist Amanda Connor does a great job illustrating this post apocalyptic world and the strange beasts that now inhabit it. If you’re a fan of Thundarr the Barbarian, Planet of the Apes of any other number of similar future Earth, tales, you’ll like this title. In the early 70’s, it was easy to find stories of this kind due to the wars and pollution concerns going on at the time. So, in a retrospective way all around, you can get a piece of what popular themes of the time presented. Its my understanding that each creative team has no idea of how the next will continue the story and at the end, reveal how they would’ve steered and finished the tale. I appreciate the imagination going into this book and the friendly competition by each team to “do one better”, than the others.