As a character that exists out of the general mainstream of DC Comics, Kamandi has not been seen much since his original series. Recently he has appeared in titles for DC chronicling the mutliverse.
DC had sought the rights to the recently released Planet of the Apes movie but were unable to obtain them. Seeking to cash in on the success of the movie, they approached Jack Kirby who had been working for the company on his Fourth World series. Piecing together disparate ideas he had been working on over the years, Kirby came up with Kamandi, planning to hand it over to other creators to work on. Yet, with the cancellation of Kirby's Forever People series, he decided to take the title on himself, writing and drawing the first 37 issues, beginning in 1972. After ending his writing duties, Kirby continued drawing the series for the next three issues before handling the series over entirely to creators such as Gerry Conway, Denny O'Neil, Keith Giffen and Pablo Marcos.
As with most of DC's characters, Kamandi's origins have gone through many and various retcons and reboots over time. In his original appearance, Kamandi, along with his grandfather were the last survivors of bunker Command D on Earth-AD (which the series asserts stands for, After Disaster). Though the actual cause of the disaster is never mentioned in the original run of the Kamandi series itself, it was later established that a virus known as Morticoccus was brought to Kamandi's world by a time traveling Karate Kid. Upon his death, he released the virus into Earth 51’s atmosphere, turning the human populace into animals, whilst reverting animals into primal humanity. When Kamandi surfaced from Command D, generations later, he believed that he was the last, truly human boy on Earth. He did not realise that the now dominant animals around him were actually his true descendants, not the mindless humans who now dwelt there.
Returning from exploring this strange new world, Kamandi found the bunker in ruins, having been invaded by mutant wolves, who had killed Kamandis’ grandfather as he sought to defend their home. Having seen to the invaders, Kamandi left Command D behind, yet what Kamandi was not aware of was that his grandfather had once been know as Buddy Blank, known to the world at large as the hero, OMAC; the One Man Army Corps. OMAC had been created by a sentient computer satellite known as Brother Eye as a means of dealing with threats foreseen by a group of aliens, working under the name The Global Peace Agency. OMAC and the GPA failed to prevent the Great Disaster, seemingly causing Buddy to take to the bunker, (and his grandsons namesake) Command D.
Having long ago lost his OMAC powers, Buddy Blank lived out the years after the great disaster in a bunker in the New York area. There he raised his grandson Kamandi - named after the bunker itself, Command D, using a micro-film to teach him about past civilization.
Before the Great Disaster however, a scientist at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Dr Michael Grant had developed a mutagenetic chemical called, Cortexin. This chemical purported to mirror the reasoning abilities of animals and although many of his research animals were exposed to Cortexin, Dr. Grant released them into the populace. He also infected the water supplies by dumping the drug into a broken water main, allowing various other escaped animals to drink from the stream and became infected, their intelligence and physicality becoming altered by its affects.
The animals' descendents inherited these genetic changes, and as a result (within two human generations), talking animals (including lions, tigers, gorillas, leopards, rats, dogs and dolphins) dominated the earth. The planet had since been split into various warring factions, the majority of which, Kamandi visits during his adventures.
After leaving the bunker, Kamandi made various friends, including Ben Boxer and his friends Steve and Renzi, who were three survivors of the scientific community. Other allies were the scientist dog Doctor Canus, and the young girl, Spirit. Kamandi, Ben and Canus did not wish to conquer the animals but to restore humanity to a civilised state so that human beings could live as equals with intelligent animals.
At the conclusion to the original series, Kamandi is shown the multiverse by the mysterious entity known as the Vortex (who seemingly has some connection to the Great Disaster). Having come into contact with The Sandman, it is revealed that Kamandi is actually an alternate version of Jed Walker. Given the choice of choosing an alternate reality to live in, Kamandi decides to return to his own world and fulfill the promise to his grandfather of rebuilding the world better than it had been.
Issues 1 to 37 of the original series were written and drawn by Jack Kirby. The series itself continued on until issue 59, when the series was cancelled. The issues written after Kirbys’ departure featured some major character revelations, such as the alternate reality Kamandi and the heavily revised origin of OMAC. Although Kirby had hinted that there was a connection between the OMAC universe and Kamandis’ it is made more explicit after his departure. Kamandis’ connection to the continuity of the main DC universe had been tenuous during the initial run, but subsequent stories reinforced that Kamandi was indeed a part of the same continuity as Batman and Superman.
Later stories also mentioned that the Great Disaster ahd actually been caused by the same atomic war of 1986 which caused the Atomic Knights to form. It was later revealed though that Gardner Grayle may have created these events purely as a fantasy.
Crisis On Infinite Earths
As result of the amended timeline, Kamandis’ was no longer one of Earth's alternate futures and Earth-51 would later become the home of Kamandi. The timeline, after Crisis on Infinite Earths, would state that the boy of the future, who would have been called Kamandi, will instead grow up to be space adventurer, Tommy Tomorrow.
After the destruction of Bludhaven by Captain Atom, the bunker Command D is re-introduced into DC continuity as a hideout for the Atomic Knights and is later revealed to be a new version of the Evil Factory, the headquarters of Darkseids’ minions on earth.
The Countdown series served as a lead-in to the Final Crisis mini series.
Buddy Blank and his unnamed blonde grandson are introduced into the storyline in Countdown #31, It had earlier been revealed that The Great Disaster is in its early stages on Earth-51, also adding that Buddy had a daughter who lost her life to the virus. When Una, an alternate Earth's version of the Legion of Super-Heroes Triplicate Girl, gives him her Legion flight ring, Buddy uses it to safely get him to Cadmus' "Command D" facility, which is able to protect them from the virus' victims. As they arrive, Buddy hopes that his grandson can forgive him for making him "The last boy on Earth."
Kamandi appears in the first issue of Final Crisis, seeking knowledge on the gift that Metron has bestowed upon humanity; that of fire. He appears in the next issue as a prisoner alongside Dan Turpin before seemingly remaining on Earth 51, as it always has been at the end of the series.
Published weekly in one page formats, Kamandi is perhaps, truly the only human left on earth at the start of this series. In the original there were other humans, though they were mindless and savage. In this interpretation, there seem to be no other humans at all, until Kamandi comes across a girl called Orora whilst adventuring with his best friend, Prince Tuftan. After becoming entangled in a war, between the tigers, the lions and the apes, the great ape army is seemingly wiped out and Kamandi is left alone again, wandering south to where he believes more, intelligent humans might be.
In the original series, the Command D bunker was located somewhere in the vicinity of New York, though this was later changed to the fictional city of Bludhaven.
The entire world has fallen prey to the Great Disaster and many exotic and familiar locales are used throughout the series, America being chief among them at the start.
Powers And Abilities
Kamandi is a normal human boy, though having been born into such an apocalyptic world, he is imbued with survival skills beyond most boys his age. He seems to have excellent combat skills and is a crack shot with a firearm.
Kamandi is also possessed of a keen intellect, having been taught from a seemingly limitless microfilm library by his grandfather in the bunker, Command D.
As a result of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Kamandi's timeline was no longer one of Earth's alternate futures. Earth-51 would later become the home of Kamandi. The timeline, after Crisis on Infinite Earths, would state that the boy of the future, who would have been called Kamadi, will instead grow up to be space adventurer, Tommy Tomorrow.
Whilst in the Dream Dome of the dream master, The Sandman, it is revealed that in his reality, Kamandi was born thousands of years earlier and was known as Jed Walker.
In Countdown: Arena #2, a simian version of Starman appears from what he states is Earth 17. He mentions that there is a war between the forces of Ben Boxer and Kamandi, which seems to suggest that there may be many more variants on Kamandi in the multiverse.
In other media
Batman The Brave and the Bold
He makes his first animated appearance in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, in the seventh episode along with Dr. Canus they help Batman return to the present with a curative vaccine from their apocalyptic future rule by anthropomorphic evolved animals. With a laser that Batman let in the left nostril of Statue of Liberty he could beat the Ratmen that were chasing them.
Kamandi makes another appearance in the episode, "Apes of Wrath" Batman chases Gorilla Grodd to Kamandi's future, to help the Gorillas of the time conquer the Tiger Empire, lead by Caesar. In between the battle is Kamandi, Dr. Canus, and Prince Tuftan to free the human slaves of both sides.
A non-playable version of the character appeared in Heroclix.