Retro Review -- Kamandi, Last Boy on Earth!
Jack Kirby wrote, illustrated & acted as editor on his brainchild project, Kamandi! This first issue grabs the reader with a strange cover; a blonde boy rowing his raft through the destruction that was , complete with a Planet of the Apes-style busted Statue of Liberty. What the heck?
Kamandi had been part of a population of intelligent humans away from the surface world for a few generations. Eventually they all died off except Kamandi and his grandfather. When Kamandi's grandfather is killed by a group of scavengers, K is amazed that the scavengers are not human.
Seems the radiation and war had changed his world to where humans are considered animals and the beasts act as men. Captured by tigers on their way to war, he becomes a pet to Cesar, a particularly majestic tiger of sorts.
Dejected and despairing, he spots a nuclear warhead that the tiger nation worships. He grabs a weapon, intent on setting off a nuclear explosion. He prefers that to living out his life among intelligent beasts and where his human brethren have been reduced to savagery.
I can't help but note the similarities to Planet of the Apes where the apes rule and in one film, degenerate humans worship the atom bomb. This book was written in 1972 so it is possible Kirby took some of these ideas from the Apes films and expanded on them.
Near the end of the book, he finds another human, and though intelligent, he has a few atomic secrets of his own. Kamandi is relieved that he has found a human to relate to.
And we're relieved too! That would have been a pretty short number one issue if he set that bomb off!
The article at the end of the piece, written by Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman and ask us if we got our twenty cents worth as we peruse these pages. Oh yes, man. Oh yes! Mark asks if Kamandi's world is a result of natural events or can we change our own futures? Food for thought.
Kamandi went on 59 issues, through various adventures as he makes this future dystopia his own. Oh, and the number one issue? $105.00 in Near Mint!