Finding comics that go beyond superheroes can be difficult.
That’s where illustrator, artist and historian Jack Kirby comes in. Kirby stands as the King of Comics as he has told timeless stories, created new myths and legends, and literally made the New Gods (not to mention the Eternals). The Hulk, The Avengers and dozens of other titles were created during his tenure at both Marvel and DC.
His comics possess poetic phrasing, him images exhibit a remarkable and almost unrivaled energy, and he’s one hell of a storyteller. All of this means that almost any of his books are excellent — and there are even some titles for young readers. Possibly one of the most overlooked gems is the unfortunately short-lived DC title Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth.
While Kamandi has made a mild resurgence through shows like Batman: The Brave and the Bold, there has yet to be an authentic adaptation, especially since most of his appearances in that show gave more of a weird Adventure Time feel to the setting. This is a shame because Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth is a series bursting with awesome ideas and classic moments.
Kamandi, like the title says, is the last boy on Earth. He exists as one of the last Homo Sapiens in the scary world of the future, where animals now walk and talk like men while humans are mostly dumb or feral. While there are some likenesses to Planet of the Apes, the series instead populates the world with all sorts of warring factions, sort of like a junior version of Game of Thrones. Groups like the rat raiders, the noble tigers, the cunning snake men inhabit this apocalyptic world, and Kirby had big enough plans to actually plot out a world map for the series. Sadly, though, a lot of the interesting places on the map were never visited since the series only ran for 40 issues.
While the series does get violent and scary, the violence and scares are similar to those in the Harry Potter series, which should ease some worried minds.
Kamandi loses friends, and deals with intolerance and hatred. And while Kamandi is always the hero, he has many flaws: He gets angry, he’s impatient and he always suffers the consequences in the long run. As with any good story, there are lessons to be learned here, for both young and older readers. Kamandi learns, too, just enough to keep the series rolling along.
Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth is currently available online through Comixology for 99 cents per issue, and there are a number of trade collections that can be found for a range of prices, especially if you hit the conventions.