* * * WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE * * *
Kamandi was the "Last Boy on Earth", or so read the cover copy. Last "normal" boy, really, since all the other humans were screwed up somehow. Kamandi lived in the world after the Great Disaster; it's unclear exactly what it was -- a natural disaster or a war, for example -- but it was linked to a mysterious energy source called the Vortex. The Great Disaster involved worldwide devastation from earthquakes and fires, and human civilization had collapsed. Kamandi lived in a bunker in New York ("Command D"), and he left it when his grandfather died. (Kamandi's grandfather was OMAC when he was younger.)
Among his friends he met in the outside world were Ben Boxer, a mutant human who could turn to steel by pressing a disk on his chest; the alien Pyra and her sentient spaceship; a young girl named Spirit; Dr. Canus, a humanoid dog; and Mylock Bloodstalker and his partner Doile, detectives.
Recently, while searching for Ben, Kamandi found him with his partners Steve and Renzi undergoing the rite of Evermore, which rejuvenates them but produces a great amount of radiation. But Kamandi was captured by giant surfing hippie crabs and taken to a drive-in movie theater on "The Island of the God Watchers" where he's projected into a movie and worshipped along with the other "gods" of the silver screen (no, really, this happened). Meanwhile, Karate Kid of the Legion of Super-Heroes is thrown into the world post-Great Disaster while trying to get back to the 30th century, and the two heroes team up to escape. Pyra tells them that by going west to the Vortex (which seems to be in Australia), they can get enough power to return from the alternate future of Kamandi (thrown there by Major Disaster and the Lord of Time) to the Legion's 30th century. Karate Kid makes it back safely, and Pyra is excited that perhaps she can tap into the Vortex to provide energy for her dying world. But before they get to the Vortex itself, they have to pass the Western Wall.
But the Wall is too high to fly over, and after landing the group is captured by the Kangarat Murder Society of Australia, who guard the Wall. They escape, and realize they have to get Ben, Steve, and Renzi to unlock the door with their radiation. The door opens and Kamandi is drawn inside. A voice "like a thousand tornados" screams his name. "EEEEEEEEEnter, my son -- since before time began, and from the time the eons ended, I have waited your arrival!"
In the OMAC story, which picks up directly after the last issue of Kirby's OMAC series (sometime in the future, but 60 years before Kamandi), OMAC has survived an attack by Skuba, but Brother Eye has been encased in rock and is 93% inoperable, so all OMAC has left is vast strength and intelligence data. OMAC has to make it to the HQ of the Global Peace Agency... but Houston is under attack by troops from the International Communication and Commerce company. He gets past the IC&C troops, to find a lone dying GPA agent who tells him that the seven major corporate powers have banded together and attacked the GPA, destroying it. Prof. Z has predicted that the powers will turn on each other, plunging earth into a technological dark age with just enough knowledge to unleash a final nuclear holocaust. Prof. Z gave the GPA agent a tape that will explain everything.
That was issues 57-59. Issue 59 was the first of the series during the DC Explosion; the extra pages were taken up by the return of OMAC. Issue 60 was to be part 2 of Kamandi's Vortex Adventure. But the Explosion turned into an Implosion, and the rest of Kamandi's adventure (as planned) hasn't been seen...
Chapter 2 of Kamandi's Vortex Adventure begins with the group trying to save Kamandi... but Pyra stops them. She says the Vortex is a break in the reality curve of time and space, but there's an intelligence there that needs Kamandi in a different time and space. Inside the Vortex, it tells Kamandi that it's been waiting "twice times eternity" for his arrival... "You have been summoned to meet your destiny-- and the destiny of all those who dwell in your reality!" Then it begins to tell him about the multiple earths and alternate realities.
Meanwhile, Pyra and her ship are weakening due to energy loss, and the ship reverts to its "beastie thing" configuration. Will they have to sacrifice Kamandi by using the Vortex energy to save Pyra's planet?
"Beyond the wall... and far beyond any realities ever seen by man or beast..." The Vortex explains that his world is an alternate reality; the future of what we know as the DC Universe "exists in a reality wherein the Great Disaster never happened." There's even a gratuitous shot of the HQ of the Legion of Super-Heroes, since Kamandi just met Karate Kid , and a shot of three Flashes (Jay Garrick of Earth-2, Barry Allen of Earth-1, and the villainous Johnny Quick of Earth-3) to emphasize the multiple Earths. But there are other Kamandis, too, in other times and places. The Vortex can provide a path for Kamandi to enter an earth where the Great Disaster never happened, and it is this decision which the Vortex has awaited. See, Kamandi is the "pivotal point of infinities uncountable", and wherever he goes will decide what future will come about.
Outside the Vortex, the group is captured by the Kangarats, who were entrusted to guard the wall and get to kill all who tresspass. It looks hopeless, since Ben, Steve, and Renzi are still undergoing Evermore; especially since Canus hasn't gotten to tell Pyra how he really feels about her. But does Ben hear their cries for help?
Back inside the Vortex, Kamandi weighs his options: enter a world where he doesn't have to run and fight at every turn, a world that's sane. But what then of Pyra and Canus and the others? For Kamandi, they will no longer exist. Once Kamandi steps into a new reality, it will be as if it was always his, and his friends will be but memories as if a dream. But as he takes his first step, he sees flashes of the Great Disaster: people running, the animals anthromorphizing, Ben, his life in Command D with his granddad... "The world has become a jungle," the former OMAC said, "and it will be up to you to rebuild the world of men!" Kamandi changes his mind and wants to go back to his world.
Back in Kamandi's original reality, it doesn't look good for the crew. But Ben, Steve, and Renzi have heard their cries, and they create an energy creature to drive off the kanagrats... and then lose control of it. Spirit, who has the ability to spin super-hard fibers from her fingertips, creates a dome around the group, while Pyra's ship attempts to defend them. If it defeats the energy creature, Ben might die, and if the ship is killed, Pyra can't return to her people and save them...
"Nearby, and yet realms away..." Kamandi makes his decision to return to his own world. There were an infinite number of decisions he could have made, and it's not for the Vortex to say which would have been correct. He is sent back to his realm via the Dream Stream. Just then, Kamandi is picked up by two unlikely guest stars: Brute and Glob, sidekicks of the Sandman (Garrett Sanford). They think he's Sandman's pal Jed, and so they take him to the Sandman....
To be continued...
Letters page: 4 letters dealing with issue 57, which was the Surfing Lobsters and the drive in movie, which ended with Kamandi stuck in the projector. First is from Mark Steel of Mattawan, MI, who gushes about how good issue 57 was. Second is from Don McCord of Nashville, who's not sure if he likes Kamandi as a movie star. Third is from Paul Rectenwald of Louisville, who asks for the return of Kirby's Sandman, leading to the reply below (see comments section). Fourth is from Mike Christiansen of Rockford, IL, who is a newcomer to the series and likes what he sees. Harris also noted that Starlin's OMAC would return in issue 62 (skipping 61), along with the "astounding fate of Pretty Pyra".
It seems that the planet Vision is a highly advanced world dedicated to preserving civilization through indirect scientific means. A brilliant psycho-historical regulator named Prof. Z, who was responsible for watching Earth, found some concepts that would allow him to predict the future of a single human to within 98% accuracy. He predicted that Earth's future was endangered by the rise of industrial barons which would lead to civil war and intellectual decline, ending in a nuclear pyre, and in man's place would arise animals. The Council agreed, and mapped out a plan which would steer Earth clear of that path. But Z disagreed with their methods. The Council set up the Global Peace Agency, ostensibly composed of men from all countries who wished to remain anonymous protectors. The GPA becan jailing criminals and crooked politicians, but Z still claimed they'd fail to prevent the holocaust. So then the GPA commissioned an Earth scientist to create a super soldier to help: and they took an inconsequential youth named Buddy Blank and turned him into a One Man Army Corps, aided by the satellite Brother Eye who gave him power and knowledge when needed.
But now Z has escaped, leaving behind some predictions: that OMAC would fight Skuba and Brother Eye would be damaged (as seen in OMAC #8), and that the GPA would be destroyed by the corporate powers (as seen in KAMANDI #59). Within the week, though, those powers would turn on each other because of their wartime economy. That decision will ruin mankind. Within a generation, man will be a breed of sub-intellectuals, since morality and intellectual expansion will be outlawed in favor of destruction. But there may be a way out-- Z predicts a .002% chance of success, but if a single strong leader can be found who can immediately end hostilities, that destruction may be averted. OMAC has to find that leader or become him.
Plus, he gets a new costume. Then the IC&C troops come in, and OMAC surrenders.
To be continued in issue 62...
* * * WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE * * *
Brute and Glob, thinking Kamandi is really Sandman's friend Jed, bring Kamandi to the Dream Dome, home of the Sandman. But Sandman tells them it's "not the Jeb WE know", and when Sandman tells Kamandi who he is, Kamandi is skeptical, saying that the Sandman is a fairy tale, just like Santa Claus. In the Vortex, explains Sandman, all things are real and possible, and directs Kamandi's view to the Dream Screen to observe the true meaning of faith, belief, and devotion. He shows Kamandi what an alternate Kamandi -- Jed -- once learned...
It's hard to take a story seriously -- even a Kirby story -- when the hero is on the first page saying, "I know it looks hopeless, Jed -- but we've got to keep fighting! Unless we can rescue Santa Claus from the Seal Men, Christmas throughout the world is as good as dead!"
On the day before Christmas, Jed is sent to collect money from Titus Gotrox for the Christmas Fund Collection. His aunt sends Jed, not her son. He goes to the Gotrox mansion and asks for a donation "to help spread some holiday cheer in the world just like Santa Claus does", but Gotrox's nephew Rodney doesn't like it. Gotrox tells Jed that if he can prove by midnight that Santa really exists, then he'll donate a million dollars. After Jed leaves, Gotrox tells Rodney that he'll make a small contribution anyway. Rodney leaves to make sure Jed doesn't find Santa, since he's due to inherit all the money.
Jed calls Sandman with his special whistle (which he drops in surprise when Sandman shows up). It seems Sandman and Santa go way back, and after a stop in the Dream Dome, they'll pop on over to Santa's Workshop. Brute and Glob are left in charge in their absence, and Sandman and Jed head towards the Fantasy Forest, home of the Nightmare Wizard, whose help they'll need if they're going to make it in time.
Meanwhile, Rodney picks up Jed's whistle and summons Brute, telling him that Jed left for Santa's place without him. Back in the Dream Stream, the Wizard lends Sandman and Jed a parka and sky sled. Rodney shows up just as they leave, and the Wizard gives him a sled and points him towards the north polar region of the Dream Stream. Upon reaching the North Pole, Sandman and Jed are attacked... by the elves!
It's OK, though, as Mrs. Claus comes out and chides the elves for not realizing the visitors were not the Seal-Men. She apologizes, telling them that the Seal-Men had snuck in and kidnapped Santa. Santa had always been nice, so they don't know why the Seal-Men would attack. If they can't find Santa by tomorrow, they'll have to call off Christmas... Going off in search of Santa, Sandman and Jed see Santa... but it's a decoy! The Seal-Men capture them, and throw them in a cell with Santa.
Sandman uses his hypno-sonic whistle to melt the bars on the cell, and the trio escapes. But they're pursued... "We're not just fighting to save ourselves," Sandman yells, "we're fighting to save Christmas!" Despite a valiant fight, they're recaptured. The Seal-King tells them the reason they kidnapped Santa was because they had been denied a Merry Christmas -- Santa had sent them woolen gloves, scuba equipment, galoshes, and fishing poles instead of something they could use. (Hey, I'd kidnap Santa if he sent me woolen gloves and galoshes for Christmas, too.) But Jed convinces the Seal-King that it's all a mistake, there must have been a mixup or something, since Santa would never do that on purpose. So the Seal-King says OK, you can go, just don't let it happen again.
So now the trio has to hurry back to get Santa's sleigh, since it's getting late... only to find Mrs. Claus bound and gagged! It was Rodney, who tells them he doesn't want any of "his" money going to charity. Sandman saves the day, by throwing sand cartridges at Rodney. A short while later, at midnight, Rodney falls down the chimney, followed by Santa. Santa visits with Gotrox, who admitted he lost faith. Santa asks for the million dollar check, and Gotrox has it ready: he had decided to give it to charity anyway. For his Christmas wish, Gotrox gets to help drive Santa's sleigh.
Back in the Dream Dome, Kamandi and Sandman finish looking at the scene. Sandman tells the boy that "in another reality -- in another time, on another earth, this adventure happened to you! If a certain event in the past was changed, you would have been born centuries before you actually were, and your name would have been Jeb [sic] instead of Kamandi!" Kamandi asks if Sandman is the voice of the Vortex, but Sandman tells him he's not ready to know to whom the voice belongs.
But now they have to get back to "reality": remember, Pyra, Canus, Spirit, and the others are still in trouble. They jump into the Dream Stream and head for Earth... and come out through the open door to the Western Wall. While Kamandi distracts the energy creature, Sandman goes to break up the Rite of Evermore. (Somewhere in here, Spirit left the dome that held Pyra, Canus, Doyle, and Bloodstalker, since she greets Kamandi at the Wall.) Sandman says he knows the Rite of Evermore, and the energy creature is being prolonged by the dream state of the mutants. He struggles to pull them apart and wake them up (despite the radiation)... and succeeds! The energy creature evaporates, and soon Kamandi's party is freed. Sandman bids them farewell, reminding Kamandi that his world is the nightmare of OMAC, Kamandi's grandfather. It's up to Kamandi to try and remake the world into a pleasant dream. Kamandi "remembers that he alone is the hope of humankind"...
Next issue: Space Mission!
The OMAC story showed up in "Warlord" 37 (9/80) with only minor caption changes to tie it in better with the Great Disaster. The Sandman story appeared for the first time in "Best of DC Digest" 22 (3/82) in a Christmas issue.
The timeline of this future is kinda fuzzy. The Atomic War that was part of the Great Disaster took place in October 1986 (see "Hercules Unbound" or the Atomic Knights series in "Strange Adventures"). The Atomic Knights appeared with Hercules ("Hercules Unbound" 10), who was freed during the early days of the war. In that issue, Hercules and the Knights find the water stolen by Skuba in "OMAC" 7-8. But OMAC's world was in the technological near-future ruled by corporations, and Hercules and the Knights are post- war; the Hercules issue takes place right after the OMAC issues. Finally, the Atomic Knights and Hercules were retconned out of existence in 1983 in "DC Comics Presents" 57, where it's revealed that the whole future of the Knights was just a dream of Gardner Grayle. So that would imply that OMAC and Kamandi would be gone too, but both appeared with Superman later (OMAC in DCCP 61 and Kamandi in 64). Who knows. It was all erased in the Crisis, anyway... which took place in 1985-86. Hmmmm...
Editor (and writer) Jack C. Harris answered a question about Sandman in the letters page
of issue 60:
"While there are no plans for the revival of Sandman's own book, next issue might just usher in a new demand for the Master of Dreams. When the book was cancelled many months ago, Editor Joe Orlando (now Managing Editor) had a completed Mike Fleisher/Jack Kirby/Mike Royer story on hand. It went into our inventory drawer and was never to be seen by the public.These two issues are not part of official continuity. Kamandi made two more pre-Crisis appearances in team-up series, meeting Batman and Superman.
When artist Al Milgrom became one of DC's newest editors, he rummaged through that drawer and pulled out the story. Being a true Jack Kirby fan, Al wanted desperately for the last, never-published issue of SANDMAN to see the light of day. With the introduction of the 25- page books, Al had his chance and handed our writer the assignment of connecting Kamandi and the Sandman. The result is on sale in just 60 days."
In Kamandi's next appearance, in the pages of "Brave and Bold" #157 (12/79, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Jim Aparo), it is revealed that Kamandi had dropped out of the Vortex into Gotham City in 1979. He's drugged and forced to be The Enforcer for Extortion, Inc. due to his incredible strength and loss of memory. But his strength is fading, and they decide to kill him. Batman, who was following the case, stops them. Kamandi's memory returns as he recognizes "Captain Bat" from an earlier adventure when Batman went to Kamandi's time. Taken back to the Batcave, Batman finds out what happened in the last issue of Kamandi's series. Instead of meeting Sandman, Kamandi wanted to go back to Batman's time, which seemed better. But he realized his fate in the 20th century was to become more an animal than in his own time, that all times have their troubles and terrors. He wants to go back, and Batman takes him to Australia, to the place where the Western Wall would be in Kamandi's time; but all that's there is a huge rock in the middle of the desert (presumably Ayers Rock). The aborigines say the rock has power, and after dusting him with the magic powders of the desert, Kamandi climbs to the top. The next morning, he's gone.
In the letters page to B&B 162, commenting on issue 157, editor Paul Levitz says:
"...We cheerfully admit that KAMANDI was one of about five books that were cancelled in our cutback in 1978 simply because we wanted to have only monthly 40 cent comics, which meant that a handful of decent sellers had to go, and that a record-breaking sale on B&B #157 would make us consider a revival."Kamandi's final pre-Crisis appearance was again in the 20th century, where he was drawn by an experiment gone awry. In "DC Comics Presents" #64 (12/83, an Evanier/Saviuk/McLaughlin production), Victor Epoch creates a gyroscope with which to see into the future, but it only succeeds in merging the future with the present. But this is an untold tale of Kamandi's past, before he has learned much about the world of the past. (Mark Evanier is welcome to share any comments about writing this issue.)
A Kamandi series was scheduled to appear in the backup slot of "The Warlord", as revealed in the letters page of "Warlord" 56. OMAC had been appearing as a backup in these pages, taking over from where the series ended abruptly in KAMANDI. Editor Jack C. Harris, who you may recall wrote the last few issues of the Kamandi series, wrote:
"Ross Andru will be taking over the editing of this title next month. He has plans for the ending of the current OMAC saga and a return to... Kamandi, the lgendary creation of Jack Kirby. Originally scheduled to begin next issue, Kamandi will now appear as soon as possible, but not next month. The writers of OMAC and the new editor agreed that it would only be fair to those readers who have been following OMAC's adventures to end the plotlines and leave nothing hanging!"Unfortunately, the series never appeared.
Finally, Kamandi was one of the first people chosen by the Monitor during the early days of the Crisis. By the end of the big event, Kamandi's future history was erased, and the boy who would have been Kamandi was instead found by Capt. Horatio Tomorrow of the Planeteers. Kamandi would grow up to be Tommy Tomorrow. Ironically, the Vortex had earlier given him a chance to "enter a world where he doesn't have to run and fight at every turn, a world that's sane." He made his choice to go back to his own world instead, but Fate had other plans after all.
From the peanut gallery: Garrie Burr says...
Jack C. Harris did a stint as publicity manager (or something similar) for DC during the release of the original Christopher Reeve Superman movie. I was working on a feature about the movie for our college newspaper, so I got to talk to him by phone. When we were through, since the talk went well, I got to ask him about the continuation of Kamandi. Jack told me that his idea was to tie in all the Kirby DC creations together, that the vortex (which was actually the Source, or a blown Mother Box that was the cause of the Great Disaster, I can't remember...) would allow Kamandi to visit Kirby folks like the Sandman and Jed.
Copies of this or any other CCC story are available for a mere $5.00 each (that covers copies and P&H). Give me a holler!
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