Tag Archives: Kamandi

Kamandi Omnibus #2, the review

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.


Kamandi Omnibus #1, the review

This post originally appeared in October of 2011.  A bit of news:  The second volume of the Jack Kirby Kamandi issues, collecting the rest of his run, is scheduled to be released later this year.

To some degree, reviewing the Kamandi Omnibus Vol #1, released last week, is almost pointless.  I have all of the Jack Kirby written/drawn issues of the series (indeed, even the 19 issues after he left with issue #40 plus the 2 issues never released but collected in the Cancelled Comics Cavalcade. Yes, I’m a BIG fan of Kamandi!) and I pretty much know the book backwards and forwards.

Yet seeing the first 20 issues all together in one volume, I recognized something that hadn’t really occurred to me until they were read all together: This was Jack Kirby doing comic book versions of movies. Many movies.

The primary movie source material is obvious: Kamandi, the first issue of which was released in 1972, borrowed quite a bit from the then very popular original Planet of the Apes movies. Indeed, there were many back in the day who dismissed this series out right because of the fact that it borrowed so heavily from those movies. The series, after all, featured a “boy” in a post-apocalyptic world where animals (including, of course, apes!) were sentient and humans were viewed as lower life forms. The cover to the first issue of the original series also had strong echoes to the ending of the original Planet of the Apes, at least with regard to that famous statue present at that movie’s end, you will also find references to, among others, the original King Kong, The Andromeda Strain, Ben Hur, Westworld, various Gladiator movies, etc. etc.  And if you look beyond that, you’ll also find references to then hot topics such as Watergate and the then very hot topic of pollution.  Unlike other series Jack Kirby was working on at the time, Kamandi appeared to be Mr. Kirby taking a fictional look at the things that currently interested him.

And it is so much fun.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  While Kamandi may not be the very last work of Mr. Kirby, it was certainly his last sustained successful comic book work. I know he made several books and series afterwards, but none, in my opinion, were as entertaining as this one. If you’re a fan of Jack Kirby, you’d be crazy to ignore this incredible series.

I’m not sure when Volume 2, collecting the last 20 issues Mr. Kirby did, will be released, but I’ll most certainly be picking it up. While the series lost steam toward the end of Mr. Kirby’s run and the very best stories, in my opinion, are in this first volume (of those, my absolute favorites are found in issues #9 and 10), the second volume will certainly be a must buy for me.  Sadly, Mr. Kirby faced many obstacles when he chose to leave Marvel in the late 1960’s.  Much of his work was derided by fans and it wasn’t until toward the end of his life that fans began to once again appreciate what it was he brought to the comic book field.  I’m pleased that DC Comics has decided to reprint all his 1970’s works, including the various New Gods issues, Omac, The Demon, and Jimmy Olsen.

And while I can understand that the Kamandi reprints will end with Mr. Kirby’s last issue, I’m such a fan of the series that I wish they’d offer a third volume that features all the rest of the stories in the series. Regardless, Kamandi Volume 1 is well worth your time.