Kamandi gets rounded up with the strays. Artist: Jack Kirby.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1972
Creator: Jack Kirby
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During the 1960s, Jack Kirby was involved in the creation of The Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor, The Avengers and many of the other dependable sellers Marvel Comics has relied on for decades. When he quit Marvel and went to work for DC during the early 1970s, the goal was to do the same for the new boss. But while several of his characters and …

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… concepts, such as New Gods, The Demon and Kobra, have reverberated throughout the DC Universe since that time, only one of his new titles actually ran more than a dozen and a half issues during its first run — Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth.

The series, which began with a first issue cover date of November, 1972, didn't quite live up to its subtitle. There actually were other humans on the planet, and they did include a reasonable number of juvenile males. But the humans were only scattered remnants of a "Great Disaster" (the full particulars of which were never spelled out), which had occurred a couple of generations earlier. Mostly, the world was run by walking, talking animals whose forelimb paws, talons etc. had been replaced with human-style hands — funny animals, in other words, tho there was nothing funny about the way Kirby depicted them. One half expected to find Peter Porkchops or The Dodo & the Frog going about their business in out-of-the-way corners of Kamandi's world.

Kamandi's story opened with the death of his grandfather (who, in keeping with the "small world" aspect of so many comic books, later turned out to have been another Kirby hero, Omac, grown old). Consequently, Kamandi left the deserted military bunker in which grandpa had raised and educated him, to seek his fortune in the wide, wide world. The bunker was called "Command D", hence his name. There followed years of adventures among the mutated animals and their high civilizations, and occasional bands of humans reduced to savagery. Through time travel, he even had a few crossovers with Superman, Batman and other DC regulars. The final issue was #59, dated October, 1976, tho the creative reins had transferred a couple of years earlier from Kirby to Gerry Conway (Ms. Marvel, Power Girl), Dick Ayers (Jonah Hex, Ghost Rider) and others.

Along the way, Kamandi's Great Disaster was tied in with the nuclear war that had spawned The Atomic Knights (tho apparently there was more to it than just a nuclear war). This war had been established as having occurred in 1986, so as that year approached, the "Great Disaster" scenario (which by that time, several series had used) became less plausible. The whole thing was erased from continuity, along with any number of other parallel worlds the company was using, in DC's first company-wide crossover event, Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985). It was posited that in the consolidated, one-world backdrop to nearly all DC series, the boy who would have been Kamandi instead grew up to be Tommy Tomorrow.

This hasn't prevented DC using Kamandi and his world now and then, for example in the 1993 mini-series Kamandi at Earth's End. But they're unlikely to give him an ongoing series again, or to use him in crossovers with the regular characters of the DC Universe.


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Text ©2003-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.