Why You Aren’t Reading THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE

If you’re not reading DC Comic’s THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE, odds are it’s because you have no idea who Kamandi is. Even if you do, he isn’t a superhero, he doesn’t have any powers, and he’s barely connected to the rest of the DC Universe. He’s just a consistently shirtless boy in a post-apocalyptic world, a cliché in the age of dystopian YA fiction. No one would blame you for writing off the series as some weird pet project, a forced attempt to revive a long-lost character. I’m here to argue that you shouldn’t. THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE is an excellent series. It’s unlike anything else DC is publishing. Kamandi is a good boy. His trials in a harsh world are a blast to read. Here’s why you should care about Kamandi, the last boy on Earth.

Who is Kamandi?

THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE

Created by the great Jack Kirby in 1972, Kamandi is one of the sole intelligent humans in “Earth A.D.” This Earth, later designated Earth-51, is an alternate future of Earth-1 in which a Great Disaster has wiped out human civilization and reduced the remaining humans to savagery. Kamandi lives out his childhood in the Command D bunker, from which he gets his name, but is forced to leave by a rat attack. These aren’t your typical animals, however. The Great Disaster that devolved humans evolved the rest of the animal kingdom, creating sentient, speaking, bipedal animals. Kamandi goes on adventures around this truly bizarre world, trying to return humanity to civilization. Fans of Cartoon Network’s BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD might recognize Kamandi from his appearances on the show.

THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE

What is THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE?

THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE is DC Rebirth’s take on the classic KAMANDI: THE LAST BOY ON EARTH series. The series is out this year in honor of the late Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday. Kick-started by THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE SPECIAL #1, the series will be 12 full-length issues, four of which are already available. The special featured classic Kamandi stories and other materials, like maps, to get readers up-to-date on the world of the obscure character. The twelve regular issues are more standard comic book fare, with an overarching story told in self-contained episodes.

Each issue of THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE is written and drawn by a different creative team, a gimmick that makes the series that much more interesting. So far we’ve had some real titans of the comics industry, including writers James Tynion IV, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Peter J. Tomasi, and artists Neal Adams, Amanda Conner, and Carlos D’Anda. This feature of the series makes each issue feel fresh, but the writers do an excellent job of making it feel like one series despite the constant changing of hands. The writers end each issue by leaving Kamandi in a seemingly inescapable trap for the next team to save him from, making for constant crazy twists and turns for the reader. Each installment also comes with a page from the previous issue’s writer explaining how they would’ve gotten the Last Boy on Earth out of the deadly situation.

READ: Curious about other unknown series? Take a look at our Why Aren’t You Reading on POWER RANGERS!

Why You Should Be Reading THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE

People often criticize DC Comics for its dark, gritty realism. The comics might be good, but they’re somber, not fun. THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE is the exact opposite. Yeah, the Earth’s been ravaged by a Great Disaster, but now we have talking crows who say things like “I’ll find you smelly one!” before throwing batarangs at Kamandi. The series doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s what really makes it shine. Robot grandparents? Why not? Nuclear bombs? Sure! The Mobius Chair? Toss that right on in there! Nothing is out of the question, and the stuff that the writers come up with is truly insane. Neal Adams sums it up pretty well, basically saying his reasoning was “is it crazy enough to be Kirby?” The writers have all done an excellent job of making a wild, unpredictable romp with interesting characters and unforeseen turns.

The series ties into the regular DC Universe just enough to keep fans on their toes but also works perfectly fine on its own. If you love DC, you’ll catch the sly references to the better-known characters. If you just want a wacky story about a post-apocalyptic world, you’ll love it all the same. While the series is mostly just lighthearted fun, there are also fascinating questions about post-apocalyptic morality. The next issue of THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE comes out on May 24th, so make sure to grab your copy of this bizarre and compelling adventure! Keep being a good boy, Kamandi.

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