It Came from the Long Boxes!

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.

Game Tape

Wednesday has come and gone. The heroes have fought their battles and villains have hinted at things to come. Now it’s time to review the game tape…

I know this is from last week, but I had to wait to get my copy of M.O.D.O.K.: Reign Delay. It’s pretty good in that cartoony, funny book way. It speaks to the nerd angst/ impotence that is probably pretty common amongst the sort of people who might pick this book off the shelf. Ever wonder how this guy goes to the bathroom? Wonder no more! Be warned though, it ain’t pretty.

I don’t know about you, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop after FF #571. You’ve got a secret consortium of Reed Richardses helping the multiverse with multiple Infinity Gauntlets, a basement full of lobotomized Dr. Dooms, and a guy with some of Doom’s DNA spliced into him. Surely something is going to go horribly wrong here shortly (I mean after the issues on the last page are resolved). The story still holds my attention with interesting ideas, but I could have done without the seemingly obligatory Reed and Sue arguement over how much time he spends in his lab. The art still bugs me. Over muscled is not a look for Reed Richards. Toward the end he also poorly channels Kirby in the face department.

Jack Kirby was brilliant in a lot of ways. Faces were not an area of brilliance for The King. Everyone looks like Sue Storm, Professor X, or Darkseid; they just wear different wigs. Head shots of Johnny Storm, Warren Worthington III, and Steve Rogers would be indistinguishable. If you copy Kirby, copy the brilliance not the weakness. But I digress… Suffice it to say if you can get around the art, the story was solid. Your mileage may vary though.

I’m not going to retread old ground talking about the Langridge Muppet book. Just accept the fact that it’s great and move on. Instead I’ll talk about this week’s other Muppet book. Muppet Peter Pan is starting off much better than its predecessor. It’s fast and funny. The book shows respect for the source material and the inserted Muppet characters.The art is also miles above and beyond here. I’m all for stylized looks and your own personal take, but last arc (Robin Hood) never stuck to the artist’s own model.

In all fairness though, I’ve got a bit of a crush on writer Grace Randolph, but I promise that’s more a function of the smart writing and clear understanding of the Muppet voices… honestly. It has NOTHING to do with her silky blonde hair, her symmetrical face and features, pleasant contra alto voice, or her apparent wit, charm, and love of Muppets. Really…nothing to do with this review at all.

Dixon’s GI Joe #9 is finally picking up some steam. The problem early on was that he had two or three plot threads going, but only focused on one per issue. Now he’s weaving them together better. It helps that the Mainframe/ Snake Eyes connection was explored and explained quite well in last weeks Origin issue. At this pace, we might actually see Cobra Commander sometime early next year. Dare we hope for issue 12 to be the culmination of this arc?

That’s all I have to say about this week’s books. There were others, but nothing else good or bad. Good morning America.