Saturday, June 11, 2016

Kamandi - When Worlds Collide!

In the eleventh issue of Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth, our titular hero while escaping the the destruction of Tracking Site with Ben Boxer and his friend loses track of them and  gets picked up by Leopards who are functioning in the post-Great Disaster world as pirates of the Caribbean.

They gather up all sorts of goods and such and are transporting it to Sacker's Department Store.

Among their booty are slaves, both animal and human. Kamandi despite  his apparent intelligence is brusquely added to the latter where he finds himself confronting a giant creature the Leopards dub a "Devil".

That Devil is in fact an enormous Grasshopper who Kamandi quickly bonds with and which he names "KlickKlack".

The Leopards deliver their cargo in what was once Florida to the Sacker's organization which is headed by Mr. Sacker, a giant Snake.

Mr. Sacker takes a liking to Kamandi and immediately sees his worth as a potential rider in the upcoming races at Hialeah Park, an event at which Sacker makes enormous profit due to the wagering. Kamandi meets a beautiful girl named "Spirit" who is identical to his lost "Flower" and it turns out is in fact her sister.

Thrown into the kennel with the other humans Kamandi trains for his race at Hialeah and bonds to some extent with Spirit.

He learns that a human thug named Bull Bantam had driven Flower away with his brutal attentions and that same Bantam turns out to be Kamandi's primary opponent in the upcoming race. The races are a festival for the assembled animals as the humans are run through all manner of events including motorcycle races for strawberry shortcake and other minimal prizes for the entertainment of the mob.

The main event at Hialeah turns out to be the race between Bull Bantam atop a giant Bison and Kamandi riding KlickKlack.

The face is a ferocious event and only a clever bullet from the visiting Prince Tuftan of the Tiger Empire saves Kamandi at one precarious moment. But eventually Kamandi and his steed win the day, though KlickKlack is injured severely forcing Kamandi to put his ride down forever. Saddened Kamandi is discovered by Tuftan and Professor Canus who work to smuggle him out of Hialeah and away from Mr.Sacker's forces.

The reassembled friends head north into what was once Virginia around the Washington DC area.

They fall victim to a cult of Apes who worship mysterious and powerful voices in the heart of what was once the capitol of the United States itself.

It turns out these Apes have discovered the lost Watergate Tapes and are using some weird remaindered technology to turn those voices into a deadly weapon.

Tuftan and Canus are captured and Kamandi is with the help of the Tiger forces to invade the Apes temple and rescue his friends.

The satirical aspects of the strip really dominate these issues as modern consumer society is ridiculed as well as the particular political nonsense which was the defining event of the 70's, the Watergate scandal. It's rare for Kirby to do a push on something as specific as Watergate, but it's telling that he felt comfortable doing it at an institution like DC. 

More to come.

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  1. "Go fry an egg, you dum dum leopard!" I just loved Kirby's dialogue when I was a kid. It brings a smile to my face even now when I re-read that. I loved Kamandi.....I was in the age bracket that I think they were aiming for. I always thought it would have been a cool Saturday morning cartoon series.

    1. It would still make a great cartoon. I don't see why that has never happened frankly as the property has survived over the years pretty well.

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