A while back (you can read it here) I reviewed the first Omnibus of what I consider Jack Kirby’s last great comic book series, Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth.
I’m a huge fan of the works of Jack Kirby, and for whatever reason his last major works, which appeared in the early to mid 70’s, hold a special place of interest. I love The New Gods and the related books. I love The Demon. I love OMAC.
And I especially, especially, love Kamandi.
True, none of the DC Comics works are held in quite the same regard as his many classic creations for Marvel Comics in the 1960’s (Jack Kirby had his hand in pretty much all the stable of Marvel heroes that are now so very popular on the big screen), but for whatever reason, it is his run at DC that I go back to again and again.
When I reviewed the first Kamandi Omnibus, however, I noted that this book, which reprinted the first 20 issues of the original series, was the one to get, as it featured the best Kirby works on the series.
Now, having picked up (belatedly) the second Omnibus, my comments are reaffirmed…although I would quickly add that any fan of the works of Jack Kirby should still pick this book up.
Yes, issues #21-40 of the original series featured a clearly less involved Jack Kirby. The artwork wasn’t quite as lush as before and the stories, while still quite good, weren’t up to the level of the first twenty. Regardless, there are great ones. Check out, in particular, issue 29’s story “The Legend”, which has Kamandi and company find a most peculiar suit…one originally (?) worn by Superman! Or marvel at issue 31, which features sequences that may well have been inspired by the works of the late Ray Harryhausen.
Yes, there are still plenty of good stories to be found, but by issue #34 the book was clearly in trouble. The legendary Joe Kubert took over cover duties, a sure sign that Jack Kirby’s marketability was reaching a low ebb. By issue #38, Gerry Conway took over the scripts of the series and remained on the book during the last three Jack Kirby illustrated issues. Perhaps by that time Mr. Kirby simply had no more Kamandi stories he was interested in telling, or perhaps he was simply trying to kill time before his contract was up.
The book, however, appeared to still be popular despite Mr. Kirby’s departure. Despite overall poor sales at DC Comics during that time, the series lasted another 19 issues without Mr. Kirby before being cancelled. I’m such a fan of the series that I would love to see those issues, plus the two issues never actually published (though they were made and eventually released in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade).
Overall, I’m very happy to finally have all the Jack Kirby Kamandi issues in two wonderful volumes. Give it a try. You may like it.