This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on January 19, 2016.
This week saw the debut of The Kamandi Challenge, a 12-issue maxi-series with a total of 14 different creative teams involved. Each issue will see a new team tell a Kamandi story in a different section of his post-apocalyptic version of Earth. This includes over-sized first and final issues which offer a prologue and epilogue. In addition to the changes in artists and writers, none of the teams will be aware of what the others are planning, making this a true challenge for them all.
Many modern readers might not know much about Kamandi (a.k.a. The Last Boy on Earth), if they know anything at all. That’s no reason to ignore this project though. Everything about it, including the talent, the concept, and its central celebration provide good rationales for every comics fan to pick it up. It’s something special and nobody should miss out.
If you need more convincing though, click ahead. We’ve assembled the 5 best reasons to get excited for The Kamandi Challenge in 2017.
Read Incredible Creative Teams
There’s not enough space in this entire article to discuss all of the reasons the 14 teams creating this series are exciting. Each one offers their own unique gifts, style, and fan base to this unique property. You should definitely check out the complete list here. However, it’s worth taking a glance at some of the highlights right here.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, DC Comics’ very own dynamic duo, are bound to attract Harley Quinn fans with their fun loving sense of play. Tom King and Kevin Eastman represent an unlikely pairing that should deliver wonders. King has been the talk of the (comics) town for the past year and Eastman’s brutal, kinetic lines have never slowed since he created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Even DC Co-Publisher Dan Didio will be showing up to write the prologue for this series, pointing out just how big of a priority the series is. Yet the biggest legend attached has to be Walt Simonson, the legendary Thor artist and creator of Beta Ray Bill, who will be collaborating with writer Rob Williams. Very few artists can properly share a sentence with Jack Kirby, Kamandi’s creator, but Simonson is one of them. We can’t wait to see what he does.
Discover a Fantastic World
Each of the team’s involved in The Kamandi Challenge is given very little instruction. They don’t even know what the others are doing. One piece of information they do have is what section of the world they are supposed to cover. When Jack Kirby first created Kamandi, he drew a map of a war-torn planet with clearly labelled sectors. One sector will be assigned to each creative team to develop and explore in their own unique fashion.
This will include areas like “Mad-Hole, Country of the Screamers”, “Wild Human Preserve”, and “Kangarat Murder Society”. You might be thinking those are just the wildest concepts on the entire map, and you would be wrong. We just threw some darts at the thing to pick out examples. The entire world of Kamandi is every bit as crazy as those names would suggest. It’s a planet packed with animal-people, wars, and strange customs. Each new issue of The Kamandi Challenge is bound to offer some truly insane stories based on Kirby’s map alone.
Support Experiments at DC Comics
The Kamandi Challenge began with the big Rebirth announcement last January. It was the start of something new for DC Comics that included a major change to its core line and the beginning of pop-up imprints like Young Animal. Everything that has occurred since has shown those risks pay off. This new series will be the last of the promised projects to debut, but it’s also the most daring in format.
DC Comics is gambling on a beloved, but largely forgotten, property from one of their greatest creators and entrusting it to a wide-array of modern talents. They’re also experimenting with form and storytelling, pushing the boundaries of the Big Two. It evokes memories of the last time Kamandi was featured in a collaborative experiment: Wednesday Comics. While that series was critically acclaimed, it didn’t accomplish crazy sales. The best way to encourage experimentation and creativity is to support it, and that’s reason enough to give The Kamandi Challenge a look.
Look for The Multiversity
People are still talking about The Multiversity, another experimental series written by Grant Morrison and featuring a bevy of modern comics’ best artists. The centerpiece of the series between the one-shots and bookends was a guidebook. That issue featured a catalog of all 52 Earths in the Multiverse, but also included a narrative set on Earth-51. For all intents and purposes, this Earth might as well have been called “Earth-Kirby”. It featured Kamandi at its center, but alluded to New Gods and a bundle of other Jack Kirby creations.
Now in the DC Comics solicitation for The Kamandi Challenge #1, it says that Earth-51 is a featured element. While this series is being pitched as a collaborative experiment and tribute, there might be more to it than any of us suspect. Kamandi was a key figure in The Multiversity and The Multiversity is starting to play a role in Rebirth comics. Furthermore, it’s possible that each of these 14 unique visions might even represent a unique Earth. There’s no way to know exactly how The Kamandi Challenge plays into the future of the DC Universe, but it might be a much bigger deal than even DC Comics has said so far.
Remember Jack “The King” Kirby
While everything that has been said so far is more than reason enough to check out The Kamandi Challenge, we saved the best reason for last. Kamandi was one of the lasting legacies Jack “The King” Kirby left at DC Comics, along with The Fourth World, OMAC, and The Demon. It was a work of unadulterated creativity that managed to fill an entire world in a single comic. Now on what would have been his 100th birthday, DC Comics is honoring his legacy by focusing on this great, but underutilized creation.
There is no figure among American comics creators who inspires as much awe as Kirby. He’s the greatest creative force the medium has produced in North America and everyone in the business knows that. Every creator working on The Kamandi Challenge will be working to honor him and his legacy. It’s a fantastic fusion of the best talents of today inspired by the giants of yesterday. That’s a winning combination, and it is why you simply cannot miss out on The Kamandi Challenge.