Saturday, June 25, 2016
Kamandi - Beginning Of The End!
The thirty-first issue of Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth picks up with the odyssey of Kamandi and Ben Boxer after their encounter with a U.F.O. The explosive discharge of the Alien resulted in Ben becoming a giant in his mutant metallic form. He appears to be overcome by the will of the Alien creature and wanders off leaving Kamandi and Professor Canus who are picked up by a belligerent Prince Tuftan aboard his ship.
Eventually Canus and Kamandi re-enter the U.F.O. and encounter the Alien in its pure energy form. While the Tigers battle the "Brobdingnagian" Boxer in a brutal sea battle Kamandi and Canus work to convince the Alien to change Ben back which eventually happens.
Kamandi and Prince Tuftan encounter Doctor Canus and the Alien which calls itself merely "Me", though when it divides its energy form it calls itself "Us". Their close encounter though is interrupted by attacking by a flotilla of attacking Apes and a battle between the Tigers and the Apes erupts.
The Ape leader named Ramjam successfully assaults the landing force of the Tigers while Kamandi and Canus take refuge once again in the U.F.O. The Alien becomes bonded with the sand itself to create a creature who can move against the Ape forces and pushes them back.
As a battle rages between the naval forces of the Tigers and the Apes with Ben Boxer's assistance, Doctor Canus and Kamandi stay aboard the U.F.O. and attempt to help the Alien to assume a form more useful on Earth. While Prince Tuftan and his forces prove to have some success and take Ramjam prisoner, Canus and Kamandi use the equipment aboard the spaceship to midwife a brand new form of life.
That form of life is called "Pyra" as the alien takes the form of a beautiful red-skinned fire-haired silver-suited woman. Pyra is still quite powerful as she reveals when she works with Kamandi and Canus to help stop an Ape secret military weapon, a deadly ship with remarkable ramming capabilities.
Meanwhile on the Tiger ship Boxer runs into some trouble with Tuftan when he releases the prisoner Ramjam because he could not see him tortured. The story ends with Canus, Kamandi, and Pyra heading into space.
In orbit, Kamandi, Doctor Canus and Pyra encounter a Soyuz spaceship left over from the time before the Great Disaster.
Aboard this ship they find what appears to be a cosmonaut still alive in a lotus position. As they explore the ship, the Cosmonaut escapes his space suit and reveals he has transformed into a boneless mutant and attacks the trio who fend him off before realizing he is just trying to finish his last mission, but which will never be accomplished since the equipment is long destroyed. The trio re-board the U.F.O. and head back down to Earth.
In these issues we see the beginning of the end of the Kirby era on Kamandi. The adventures seem to veer off the exploration of the Earth of Kamandi and become intoxicated with the new character of Pyra. I don't know who dreamed up Pyra, Kirby no doubt, but she seems out of place in this adventure to me, part of some other kind of story. With the thirty-fourth issue Kirby steps down as editor on the series to be replaced by Gerry Conway, who himself had just migrated from Marvel. Soon Conway will take over the scripting chores on the book as well, but that's for next time. The use of the great Joe Kubert on covers for the series was a real blow to all Kirby fans. Kubert is great but his covers while dripping with drama lack the power of Kirby's mind-blowers at their best.
The wild inventiveness of the series seems to wane in these stories which drag on a bit despite what appears a quick pace. That illusion of drag is lack of focus on Kamandi and the shift over to the larger cast I think. We are never given enough story on any one element, but the story itself does seem to be over quickly. I'm reminded of a soap opera or a daily comic strip. Also the artwork is not nearly so amazing as it had been. The great Kirby two-page splashes seem to have gone away. Kirby himself appears to lose interest a bit in these final months at DC and his work is rather lackluster in many respects, likely because he's responding no longer to his own mandates but must meet the whims of others for the first time in several years.
More to come.