Review – Kamandi Challenge #12: Jack “King” Kirby

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Kamandi Challenge #12 varian cover by Jose Garcia Lopez
Kamandi, the last boy on Earth, surrounded by possibility.

Kamandi Challenge #12 – Gail Simone, Paul Levitz, Writers; Jill Thompson, Ryan Sook, Artists; Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Penciller; Joe Prado, Inker; Trish Mulvihill, Laura Martin, Andrew Crossley, Colorists

Ratings:

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: The King Is Immortal

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

Ray: This wild experiment featured some of the top talents in the DCU past and present, and it all comes to a close here with this double-sized epic that brings Kamandi’s journey to a satisfying and meta end. The opening segment is written by Gail Simone, beginning with a wonderfully surreal take on “Kamanda: Last Girl on Earth”. I was actually kind of hoping this character would become a thing, but she’s really just a figment of Kamandi’s imagination as he falls from the sky with his two Ape allies. One of them pulls a heroic sacrifice, allowing Kamandi and his ally to survive the fall from space, and Kamandi’s dream becomes prophecy, as he encounters the Rat people Kamanda warned him about. The latter half of this segment is an epic battle with the giant robot sent by Misfit, but it’s got some of the best art of the entire series.

However, concluding the series was supposed to fall to veteran Kamandi writer Len Wein. But as writer Paul Levitz says in an epilogue, Len didn’t live to write this script (unlike his upcoming Swamp Thing story). So the job falls to his friend and longtime writer Levitz, who wraps up Kamandi’s journey in a way that would make both Wein and Kamandi’s creator Jack Kirby proud.

Kirby actually factors into the story, as an offbeat Djinn who has the power to grand Kamandi three wishes, and in the end Kamandi is able to bring peace to his strange world before beginning his journey again in a segment that comes full circle. This series had its ups and downs, but the series as a whole was full of high points (the sensational opening issue, Bennett’s hilarious dog-pirate issue, Tom King’s claustrophobic nightmare), and this issue delivers as a satisfying finish.

Corrina: I liked the Last Girl On Earth so much that I think that should become a thing now, with a Kamandi series featuring both of them trying to find the other and teaming up, and sorting out this crazy new world.

But this ending works as well. Simone famously kicked off her Wonder Woman run by having Diana punch a gorilla off a waterfall but then they became friends. The Great Ape in this story is quite noble too and I had a little sniff at his sacrifice.

But the Kirby parts…hit hard emotionally.

Kirby is such a tragic legend because it’s criminal that he never lived to see what his creations had become. Joe Simon, at least, had a private screening of Captain America: The First Avenger. But we lost Kirby long before that and it stings.  He was also portrayed as, well, God in Fantastic Four by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo  and in one of the Kirby tribute issues from DC this year. That’s because he is the god of superhero writers, the one with imagination so limitless that both Marvel and DC have basedgtheir movies on his concepts, such as the Parademons and Darkseid in Justice League and, of course, many of the Marvel movie concepts. (Not to mention Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on television)

Read this issue. Then go find some Kirby comics and read them.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes. 

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