A while back DC announced plans to revive Jack Kirby's Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth in January in a form that, to say the least, is a little unique. It's called The Kamandi Challenge, and the idea --- loosely inspired by 1985's DC Challenge and its game of storytelling hot potato --- is that the twelve-issue series will feature a new creative team, randomly paired together from a list of twelve writers and twelve artists for each issue, each picking up the story where the previous team leaves off.
It's an interesting way to mark the 100th anniversary of Kirby's birth in 2017. In advance of New York Comic-Con, DC has revealed a first look at some of the artwork from the series, plus new details of how the creative teams will approach the story.
In the early 1970s, DC Comics attempted to gain the rights to publish comics based on the popular Planet of the Apes franchise. When that effort failed, editor Carmine Infantino asked Jack Kirby to create a comic with similar themes and visuals. Kirby hadn't seen the movies, but he got the gist --- post-apocalyptic, talking animals, animalistic humans, the Statue of Liberty in disrepair. So on August 29 1972, the day after Kirby's 55th birthday, Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth #1 was published.
In the mid-eighties, DC Comics tried a bizarre experiment known as the DC Challenge, a story told by twelve different creative teams over twelve comics, with the catch being that each issue would end on a cliffhanger that the next team would have to get themselves out of. Announced at Emerald City Comic Con, DC is reviving the series in the form of Kamandi Challenge, thirteen creative teams over twelve issues telling one complete story with the classic Jack Kirby character, Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth.
The original DC Challenge featured the likes of Elliot S! Maggin, Mike W. Barr, Dave Gibbons, Gene Colan and so many more legendary creators. and featured the additional caveat that they could use any DC Comics characters, except ones they were currently working with elsewhere. The series culminated in a jam-packed final issue which was divided among six of the previous creative teams.
Like pretty much everyone else who's really, really into the Fallout video games, I've been pretty solidly in the mood for some post-apocalyptic entertainment over the past week. It's a genre that has a plethora of options, but really, why even bother with anything else when Jack Kirby's Kamandi is just sitting right there on the bookshelf waiting to be read again?
And fortunately, it's got exactly the kind of post-apocalyptic story that I like, the kind where there's a remnant of the present that the people of the future don't quite understand because their society has become so far removed from what we would consider to be basic knowledge, where the ordinary things of our day become the mystical past of these post-apocalyptic survivors. And it's also a story where there's a giant catapult that shoots gorillas over a mountain. That's pretty rad, too.
One of the noticeable differences between DC and Marvel is the number of prominent superheroes that wear capes. Compare any group shot of any number of Marvel superheroes to any group shot of DC superheroes and chances are good that there will be more capes on the DC side. There's a litany of reasons why this could have taken root in the intrinsic creative works of both companies, but one of the strongest is the role of one artist and creator in the building and evolution of both publishers into what we know of them today: Jack Kirby.
Welcome to Recon:Vergence, a weekly look at what’s going on throughout DC’s new reality-smooshing event storyline, Convergence. This week: Chaos in the stadium as worlds collide and we head towards the final confrontation.
Of all the concepts Jack Kirby created in his time at DC in the '70s, the most underrated by far is Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth. If you're not familiar with it, it's essentially Planet of the Apes mixed with cold war fears about the end of the world, filtered through Kirby's signature over-the-top bombast until it came out as the story of a young man who emerged from a bunker after the Great Disaster into a shattered world overrun by animal people and sinister sci-fi concepts. And also, he had an amazing head of hair.
It's been one of my favorite Kirby books for a while, and now, it's getting the deluxe format treatment in the form of one of IDW's Artist's Editions, which once again raises the question of just how much money they are trying to get from me, personally. The answer, it seems, is all of it.
This week sees the start of DC Comics' big The Multiversity event series, and if the related books on sale over at ComiXology -- ostensibly to get everyone up to speed -- are anything to go by, then that thing's going to be chock full of weirdos. Seriously, I already knew they were going to be throwing Captain Carrot in there, and for some reason people can't get enough of that one story where Batman becomes a Dracula, but there are some deep cuts in there, like that one Chuck Dixon comic where the Justice League are all cowboys, and this weird thing from the '90s called Kingdom Come, where Superman fights Cable.
And then there's Kamandi.
But should Kamandi start crossing over into the main DC Universe, it won't be the first time. For that, you have to go back to Bob Haney and Jim Aparo's Brave and the Bold #157, for a story where Kamandi was sent back in time, and ended up being brainwashed, made invulnerable, poisoned with snake venom, joining up with the mob and punching Batman in the face. It... It's a weird one.
If our weekly Ask Chris column isn't enough of definitive comic book (and pro wrestling) opinions for you, good news: ComicsAlliance is proud to present Here's The Thing, a series of videos where you can join our own extremely opinionated senior writer, Chris Sims, as he dives into comics history to explain why you're wrong and he's right.
This week, a viewer writes in with a question about where to start with the King of Comics, Jack Kirby. With a career that spanned six decades and a masterpiece (or three) in every era, the sheer amount of work that Kirby produced can be daunting for a new reader. Fortunately, we've got some suggestions.
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