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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #351

What better way to end a look at Jack Kirby‘s best comics–our very last theme week of the year–than with this title? (Archive.)

For more Kirby celebration, be sure to visit the Kirby Museum, which houses two great Kirby-based blogs for your perusing pleasure.

12/17/07

351. Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth

Kamandi 1.JPG

Now, yes, Kamandi preceded Devil Dinosaur, but I couldn’t resist having the Last Boy be the Last Kirby entry.

Out of all the new titles Jack Kirby launched in the ’70s, Kamandi proved to be the most popular, lasting a whopping 59 issues (40 of which involved Kirby himself). What made it last so much longer than its Kirby-spawned compatriots? Of that, I can’t be sure– but the series must have captivated its audience with the usual Kirby panache– wild adventure, crazy ideas, and a constant sense of discovery.

The eponymous Kamandi was a young man raised in a bunker (“Command D”) after the Great Disaster which caused much of the Earth to be devastated, and evolved animal-men to take over the planet. When his grandfather (who, post-Kirby, was revealed to be an elder Buddy Blank, a.k.a. OMAC) is killed, Kamandi ventures out into the world, and finds himself the Last Boy on an Earth that’s like the Planet of the Apes writ large, with anthropomorphic animal men comprising the majority of the population, and most humans living as dumb slaves.

Kamandi 7.JPGKamandi 8.JPGKamandi 9.JPG

Over the course of his travels, Kamandi meets mad gorillas, tiger pirates, dog scientists, angry whales, gator-men, a steel-skinned mutant astronaut named Ben Boxer, and more. There’s also a classic story about a bunch of Superman-worshiping apes fighting over the hero’s invincible costume. It’s considered to be the finest issue of the run; you can read more about it here.

The series stands as a fine boy’s adventure that showcases the courage and determination of the remnants of mankind in the far future. In the way, it’s the spiritual brother of Devil Dinosaur– one takes place in the distant past, and one in the far future, but both are about man’s struggle to survive in a weird world.

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Other creators later tied Kamandi into the mythos of OMAC, the Atomic Knights, and others. Crisis transformed the boy who would be Kamandi into Tommy Tomorrow. A few revivals and guest appearances have occurred over the years, but nothing particularly substantial. Kamandi may be lost to comic book limbo, but he’ll probably return one day. The premise is just too damn fun and exciting to lie fallow.

Currently, two expensive Archive editions exist, collecting the first 20 issues of the series. I’d love to see a Showcase edition of the material published, however– a cheaper edition for we poor, huddled masses! Anything to get Kirby’s brilliance out to a wider audience, I say. Who’s with me?

Kamandi 3.jpgKamandi 4.jpg

For more Kamandi info and other bits, visit Toonopedia or the interesting-but-sparse Kamandi.com. For a stirring essay about why Kamandi is the best comic ever, read this article by blog-pal Alex of Rocketship.

That, my friends, is the end of my Kirby coverage. The King produced dozens of other great comics that I either haven’t read or just haven’t talked about– lovely series like the Forever People, Kobra, the Eternals, Captain Victory, Silver Star, and many, many more, stretching back through the decades. His body of work was massive and his talent was infinite. There’s a reason he’s considered to be the greatest comicsmith of all time. Be sure to pick up one or two or six of the recent deluxe hardcovers of his work and leap into one of his many imaginative worlds. Anything else you want to know about Jack? Ask Mark Evanier, and buy his upcoming book(s) on the man himself.

What’s your favorite Kirby work?

13 Comments

More Kirby! MORE!

I’m learning so much about his various creations, after decades of ignorance!

I’m not a fan of his DC stuff as much as you are (I think it’s far inferior to his Marvel stuff), but it’s still great to see. Keep up the good work.

I love Kamandi. He’s one of my favorite Kirby creations, behind the Fourth World stuff. Thanks for sharing this great and fun Kirby book

Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett honored Kirby beautifully by using Kamandi in their second run of Superboy. Absolutely a fun read.

Hi Bill,

I’m still reading and have enjoyed Kirby week. So, do you plan to reach reason 365 in the next two weeks and then to use January for the “fill-in” reasons? Just curious.

I think this article may have helped me figure out a small part of what’s going to happen in Final Crisis. So, Morrison says he’s going to include everything DC ever, right? And knowing Morrison, that’s got to include Kamandi.

SPOILERS

Also, I read that in the last issue of the Captain Carrot series, they become regular animals in the normal DCU. So, what if, after the great disaster, the Zoo Crew becomes counterparts for Kamandi’s animal crew? And then here we are in Kamandi’s world.

All pulled out of my ass, of course.

I love Kamandi almost as much as I love Devil Dinosaur. And I’m proud to say I own the entire run of orginal issues of both series, although with Kamandi that’s saying a lot more than with DD.

Apodaca, you are correct in what you said about the end of the Captain Carrot series. And I think that would be a fantastic way to go with the story. In general I’m not a Morrison fan, but I could see him doing that and it being awesome.

Bill – can I be the first to say “I’m with you” re a Kamandi Showcase. If it could also include the 1950s “Command D” work for Harvey, an actual Kamandi prototype, it would go way beyond the call of duty.

Apodaca – great idea. Are you Morrison in disguise?

Da Fug–

I’m determined to have all the missing Reasons filled in by the end of the year. It may be suicide for my sanity, but dadgummit, I’m gonna do my damndest.

This blog needs more KIRBY!!

You guys flatter me too much.

I’m not positive about this as I didn’t really read the series, but I was told that somewhere in the mini Battle for Bloodhaven (or maybe it was in robin comics a few months earlier, I can’t recall), but there are a bunch of heroes in a bunker and in a panel or two there is a focus on he bunkers name, “Command D”.

Don’t know if this is supposed to be an allusion to something that’s going to happen, or if it was just the writers with an homage, or what, but it’s a fun little fact that ties in to this post.

I loved those bat men attacking the balloon. The wild visuals in Kamandi were some of Kirby’s most creative ever. The giant grasshopper “Kliklak” that Kamandi rode in the big sweepstakes death race and the cover with the giant crab were especially wonderful.

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