Review: Kamandi Challenge #6

In the cliffhanger handoff from last issue, Bill Willingham and Ivan Reis left Kamandi gutted open and missing all his organs. How will Steve Orlando and Philip Tan get the Last Boy on Earth out of this jam? Will he ever find his parents? Why do bears like to wear big furry robes?

Kamandi was one of my favorite comics as a child. And when I get a chance to read them again they remain my favorite of Kirby work at DC. It will never have the impact that his Fourth World books did, but they will always be bound by the rules of DC continuity. Kamandi was his book to just let his imagination run wild and only be tenuously tied to DC continuity. Tiger emperors, dog scientists, snail societies, hyena hordes, steel men and commie bears were all fair game. Kirby just tossed weird idea after bizarre thought onto the page and made it all magically work.

The best thing about the Kamandi Challenge is that each month a new writer/artist team has to rescue Kamandi from whatever impossible deadly situation he was left in from last month’s team and then drop him off in an even worse situation by the end of the book, like an old timey serial movie with one impossible cliffhanger after another. If he survives the challenge, Kamandi will need the best psychologist DC can find.

The series is, by its very nature, uneven and this issue is the perfect example of both the shortcomings and joy it provides. Kamandi starts out barely alive but without organs as a mad sciencebeast is using him to perfect printing 3-D organs. Kamandi’s tiger buddy, Mack, convinces Dr. Vokolo, the koala scientist, to try to save Kamandi before he dies of a lack of organs. The big K lives and heads north with a human mutant who can turn to living steel thanks to his cycloheart.

However, a city of the ultimate communist bears decide the cycloheart is the perfect tool to power their city, which is also their god. Can Kamandi get Renzi’s heart back to him in time? Can he survive the urban ursine god? Orlando (Midnighter and Apollo, Justice League of America) and Tan (Suicide Squad, Hawkman) don’t care. That will be Marguerite Bennett and Dan Jurgens’ problem to solve.

Orlando and Tan go a great job on both the first half and the second half where all the action and danger live. However they only have one page to introduce us to Renzi who is the mcguffin at the heart of the second half. The quick change of all the cast around Kamandi leave both him and the readers with abandonment issues.

Writer: Steve Orlando
Penciller: Philip Tan
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Dean White

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