Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Kamandi Challenge #2 Review and **SPOILERS**

Gorillas and Tigers and Mobius, Oh My!

Story & Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Neal Adams
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Clem Robins
Main Cover Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Editors: Brittany Holzherr & Dan Didio
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: February 22, 2017


People are always saying Thundarr the Barbarian ripped off Conan the Destroyer and Star Wars, but I really think it gets most of its pilfered DNA from Jack Kirby’s Kamandi. The basic premise, I mean. There are lots of episodes of Thundarr that directly satirize specific popular media, but the basic idea: a blond-haired dude wandering across a post-nuclear apocalyptic world full of mutated humanoids where, surprisingly, many of the 20th century’s structures and paper materials have remained intact. I almost expect him to hop on a motorcycle and cruise away! So yeah, I have been looking forward to this Kamandi Challenge experiment, with some trepidation. Was it founded? Well, you’ll have to read my review to find out. Right here!

Explain It!

As most should know, the Kamandi Challenge is a 12-issue comics “jam” where different creative teams will handle every story and leave them off on cliffhangers for the next team to unravel. Last we left the Last Boy on Earth, he was held by the tiger people, vacillating between being kept as a pet and being made to fight in an arena for their entertainment. It’s because Kamandi told the head tiger Lord Caesar that his holy totem is, indeed, a nuclear warhead, and everyone knows that tigers hate blasphemy. Kamandi tries to escape, but he’s dragged back to the warhead just as it counts down to detonation…when it opens up to reveal a gorilla soldier dual-wielding some double-barreled pistols! In another comic book, I’d think this was Two-Face, but it’s not Batman, it’s Kamandi, who takes advantage of the commotion to grab his satchel of books head off to the Museum of War for a weapon.
At the Museum of War, Kamandi encounters some gigantic talking crows with human hands stealing some of the items on display—which include Harley Quinn’s hammer, Green Arrow’s bow, and Superman’s cape. One of them spies Kamandi is about to eat him, so he fires one of the weapons taken from the museum and it launches a net that ensnares the crow. As Kamandi takes off, the crow flings some explosive Batarangs (also pilfered from the museum, I assume) that knocks a hole in the floor and sends Kamandi fly-falling into the basement, where he uncovers Metron’s Mobius Chair under a dropcloth! By then, Prince Tuftan and Dr. Canus have also shown up, and they beg Kamandi not to sit in the chair, so obviously he does. What, he’s going to listen to his captors and tormentors now? As the chair lifts off, Tuftan and Canus grab Kamandi’s ankles, so he in turn grabs their wrists and the trio are sent into a mad montage of Neal Adams’ DC Comics career.
Kamandi comes to when Dr. Canus dumps some water on his head, and finds that they’re all stranded far away from the Tiger Empire, so it’s time to start walking. Now pals with the folks that would have kept him as a pet, Kamandi pleads his case, explaining that the thing they were worshipping was a nuclear warhead. Just then, they find themselves before a severely rusted sign for San Diego—which just happens to be on the edge of the Wild Human Preserve! Kamandi is excited to find his people and is about to inform Dr. Canus and Tuftan—but they’ve both been killed by Manhunters! The ones that go after Green Lanterns, specifically, not the Paul Kirk or any other human version. They fire upon Kamandi, so he jumps off a cliff overlooking the Wild Human Preserve, hurtling to his death!
Probably not, though, or issues 3-12 of this series are going to be boring as heck. This comic is a wild ride and I enjoyed every crazy moment of it. Who better to preserve the legacy of Jack Kirby than another member of comics royalty, Neal Adams? He professed his love for the Fourth World when he did the Coming of the Supermen, and you can sense it in every panel of this comic book. The story is as wacky as an episode of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, with 90% more mutated monsters and talking animals. I also liked the tie-ins to the DC Universe and thought their inclusion was handled really well. This book is a fun time with some dynamic art brought to you by one of comicdom’s grand masters, so buy with confidence! And pray the actual impending nuclear apocalypse winds up being this much of a good time.

Bits and Pieces:

Kamandi continues cruising through post-apocalyptic America, encountering lots of strange beasts and fantastic devices that will probably be familiar to a lot of readers. The artwork and composition by Neal Adams is impeccable, the story is rollicking and energetic, and the whole package is so lively you won't be able to catch your breath. Kamandi gets no respite, and neither should we!


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