The “Challenge” in the title of this series comes from how the story is structured; each successive writer/artist duo must thrust Kamandi into a harrowing situation the next writer/artist team must pull him out of. That makes each issue stand alone, yet connect. It also forces writers to deliver their own cliffhanger moment to end the issue. We check out issue #2 which is written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Neal Adams. Is it good?
The Kamandi Challenge #2 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
After the thrilling events of issue #1, writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Neal Adams rescue the Last Boy on Earth and send him on his next adventure. Now, Kamandi must save Tiger King Caesar and his people from impending doom. Will he be the hero they need? Or will he use the chaos of the situation to escape for good!
Why does this book matter?
A twelve issue series in the vein of the classic Flash Gordon series (each issue ended with Flash in terrible danger) that mixes up the creative team? Sounds like a great series for lovers of stories, but also those who enjoy a variety of art styles.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Now that’s a wallop.
Neal Adams infuses that old school feel and then some, which certainly suits this classic character! Customary of Adams, there’s plenty of characters with their mouths open (by my count Kamandi doesn’t close his mouth for 13 panels!) as the drama is ramped up to 11. His style suits the story as Kamandi fights tiger and dog people all around him. There’s a fantastic full page spread for instance, as Kamandi is whisked away via a mysterious machine with some great callbacks to classic comics. The animal characters look realistic in their humanoid forms and there’s a wonderful bit of dramatic tension as a bomb ticks down.
Tomasi certainly surprises readers with a twist I didn’t see coming. It’s also interesting how he gets Kamandi away from the characters introduced last month and into the grips of an entirely new threat. This is old school, all action, fast paced writing to be sure, and for what it’s attempting to do it accomplishes it.
Once the issue ends, there’s a full page letter written by Dan Abnett (he wrote the main story in the first issue) that you shouldn’t miss. He explains the challenge this series poses and also goes into how he would have concluded issue #2. It’s a fun way to see how another writer thinks and how the story may have shifted if it wasn’t changing creator hands each month.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This is pulp comics through and through, which means very little to no character development. That’s perfectly fine, it’s not intending to be some in depth piece, but it did leave me wanting more. It’s a fun action throwback sort of book and not much more.
The funny thing about Abnett’s letter at the end is that it got me thinking how this story could have ended in a better way. I actually liked Abnett’s conclusion more than Tomasi’s and in a way it made this issue seem much more simplistic than I originally had thought!
Literaly paws. Heh.
Is It Good?
The Kamanda Challenge is an intriguing series with a compelling premise that should get lovers of dynamic ever changing stories ramped up every issue. This installment isn’t quite as strong as the first issue, but its creators are taking chances which is hard to fault. This is pulp comics that’s daring, original, and fun.