Monday, October 15, 2012
After a great natural disaster has struck the Earth, the world has undergone numerous changes. In short, it is no longer the place in which man is master. The animals he once subjugated now occupy man's once proud status. Tigers, lions and gorillas are in the seats of power. Humans are their beasts of burden.
I'm starting to think that Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth! may very possibly be an excellent candidate for the best comic book series ever in the history of comic books.
I've only read four issues - five if you count The Brave and the Bold #120, where he guest stars with Batman - and I find them irresistible. Jack Kirby art, a dystopian world, all manner of animal people, high adventure in the Edgar Rice Burroughs tradition, all kinds of King Hell Capers - I don't know what could make it better.
I just got this one a few weeks ago:
That's Kamandi #7, with a cover date of July 1973. And, no, that's not a gigantic bouquet of breakfast sausages grabbing for our hero. (Yes, that fellow with Thor's hair and the blue shorts is Kamandi. And he's the last boy on Earth, fighting against the most impossible odds and the most improbable enemies.)
This is one crazy comic book. You find yourself saying that a lot when you read Kamandi. (Well, I do.) I feel deprived that I didn't read Kamandi as a kid. I was reading The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man and The Defenders and a bunch of crazy comic books. I remember feeling rather contemptuous of Kamandi when I was a kid. I don't why.
But forty years have passed and I am at long last mature enough to appreciate the wonders of the world of Kamandi.
This issue starts off with a funeral for someone named Flower. I don't know who Flower is. I don't have the previous issue and there isn't much of an explanation. Kamandi is a very fast-paced comic book. The action starts right away. The first thing to keep in mind when you're reading Kamndi is that you're on your own.
By page four, it doesn't much matter who Flower is.
Kamandi has been adopted by a troop of lion dudes who walk upright and dress like The Challengers of the Unknown. After a little action involving a grenade-throwing gorilla, the leader of the lion dudes, Sultin, gives Kamandi a horse so the last boy can scout the surrounding wasteland for more gorillas. Kamandi is quickly captured and offered up as a sacrifice for this dude:
His name is "Tiny." Yup. He's, I dunno, 50 or 60 feet tall. He's like King Kong, only better! Because he talks!
And he says stuff like:
TINY NOT GIVE BACK TOYS! GO HOME, NOISY ONES!
Tiny picks up Kamandi, who, being a very intelligent last boy on Earth, hits Tiny on the nose, prompting this outburst:
TOY HIT TINY! TOY NOT LIKE TINY?
To which Kamandi replies:
... er ... certainly! Certainly I like you, Tiny! But, y-you're hurting me!
The lion dudes show up and save Kamandi and it becomes even more like a certain iconic film of the 1930s. Tiny comes for Kamandi, invading the city of the lion dudes, grabbing Kamandi from under Sultin's nose, climbing to the highest point in the city, fighting for Kamandi against the lion dudes' flying machines until he falls to his death, his last words:
TOY ... TOY! I,I ... HURT ... CAN'T PLAY ... WITH ... YOU ... NO MORE ...
Yeah. That happened.
And Kamandi says to Sultin:
Even the ancients, with their imaginative movies, couldn't have produced anything like this!
Yeah! You tell 'em, Kamandi! The ancients are DUMB!
It's an AWESOME comic book! OK, so I'm a little sad that Tiny is dead and won't be appearing again in Kamandi. But I still want to read every issue of Kamandi just to see if it ever got more AWESOME than this.
See you at the end of the world.