Saturday, August 19, 2006

Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth #29

Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth #29, May 1975, National Periodical Publications
writer and penciller: Jack Kirby
inker and letterer: D. Bruce Berry

Let's talk the end of the world. A cheerful topic, no?

Still on the work retreat, but I had a half hour to read and review Kamandi, yet another Kirby classic. Like The Mighty Samson, Kamandi is stranded in a post-apocalyptic world of ruin, apparently run by tribes of intelligent apes. In this issue, Kamandi and his friend Ben Boxer encounter an ape clan dedicated to the memory of "the Mighty One," a hero from yesteryear that demonstrated great feats of strength and selflessness . . . oh, and that wore an "S" on his chest. The desperate believers dub Boxer their super man's reincarnated successor, and Kamandi encourages his friend to endure their tests to preserve the Mighty One's memory. Forced to dodge bullets and move a mighty boulder, dubbed the "daily planet," Boxer almost succeeds, until the threatened cult's leader reveals a certain super suit under their encampment and tries to claim the title once and for all. After a struggle, Kamandi vanquishes the power-hungry ape, and as victors, he and Boxer demand that the suit remain preserved until its true owner emerges from exile. In the end, the legend lives.

Like the allusions in Superman Returns, Kirby uses this narrative to boast about Superman's legacy in comics and pop culture. As a story, it's an enthralling homage and allegory, and perhaps the first of its kind. I enjoyed it, and with Back to the Future II playing on TBS in the background, I truly felt the effects of a hopeless future. The lesson: our need for heroes, especially in our darkest hour, often makes us heroes, as well -- perhaps even the heroes we longed for in the first place. It's no wonder I'm on a leadership retreat.

That's the joy and anomalous nature of this A Comic A Day challenge. Much of the material I read will be perceived through the context of my day, and how many comics can offer an insight into the big scheme of real life. Okay. Back to work.

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