It’s time once again for that irregular feature here at LEMUR Labs, “It Came from the Long Boxes.” Today’s specimen was selected from the middle of the DC section.
Today we proudly bring you Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! issue #35 “The Soyuz Survivor!”
It is a bone of contention with me that in the end, the Russians seem to be the ultimate victors of the Space Race. With American Shuttles being scrapped, there is no small irony that the next phase of manned space exploration (if there is to be one) closely resembles the Russian workhorse of the last 40 years. Simplicity has outlasted the technological whistles and bells… I could go on, but this is neither the time nor the place.
For those of you not up to speed on the awesomeness that is Kamandi, it’s set some time after “The Great Disaster.” The curious thing is that the GD wasn’t a war. It was something accidental or natural, but never clearly explained. It’s the brain child of Jack Kirby, and it falls into the trope of stranger in a strange land story. See, Kamandi was raised in a bunker protected from this disaster and the evolved animal people. Eventually he heads outside and meets some androids, some tiger-people, rat pirates, and gorilla gangsters (in a 1930’s style Chicago). Like Quantum Leap, Highway to Heaven, or Belle and Sebastian, Kamandi basically moves from town to town helping people and trying to keep to himself. Unlike these shows, Kamandi has no goal; he’s pretty much screwed from panel one on page one of issue one. This guy just needs to survive. And every now and again, shit like this happens…
Riding giant grasshoppers and confronting hyper-evolved snakes that manage a department store are part of Kamandi’s everyday live. So this issue has him in space; this is the results of events last issue. K-Mand and his frequent partner in crime, Dr. Canus, are on a UFO and come into contact with a Russian Soyuz capsule. The events are interesting in and of themselve, but there’s not much happening. K-Mand meets a mutated cosmonaut, is attacked by same mutate, hears the tape of his final “human” moments, and he jets. What keeps this from being a wholly pointless issue or series is the Kirby touch. There’s a surprising hopelessness to the whole series. There’s sadness and foreboding to most issues and this one in particular as our mutate futilely attempts to reconstruct a doomsday device. Kamandi is the best dystopia in comics… ever. In addition to the theme, this is where Kirby’s art truly shines. It’s wild and weird, but unfettered by the hinderance that is the three faces of Kirby: male, female, Darkseid.
Long story short, there are places where you can get most of the series for a dollar or $0.50. I found most of the series in bargain boxes at the Charlotte HeroesCon. It’s weird and good enough that it should be in anyone’s collection.