One of the biggest throwbacks in comics is back this week and it stars Kamandi, a teenager (more or less) confused about where he is and with no time to figure it out. We’re now six issues deep in a series that randomly selects the writer and artist and teams them up to resolve the situation the last issue established. This month we have writer Steve Orlando and artist Philip Tan joining forces to figure out how to get all of Kamandi’s organs back into his body.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Philip Tan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
So what’s it about?
Why does this book matter?
Considering Kamandi is basically an empty husk given the picture below, yeah, I’d say this is a challenging issue indeed. Add in the fact that Steve Orlando is one of the hottest writers at DC comics these days, and Philip Tan is a master in his own right–one can imagine this combo should be all kinds of awesome.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
At first I wasn’t too sure what I was getting in this issue because it felt slower and more verbose with its dialogue than previous issues. The funny thing though is that Orlando imparts some wild science fiction ideas, two big ones, and wraps adventure around them. Take for instance the opening conflict, where Kamandi is ripped open and dying as he hangs on hooks. The doctor who did this to him explains quite a bit and then ends up explaining some more when a solution is determined. Later, Kamandi ends up talking to a bear who is leader of others all flowing their minds through him. There’s a lot of explanation, but after a beat it starts to make sense and is a pretty cool concept. With all these high minded ideas there’s a definite old school comic book feel to this work that you’ll get a kick out of.
Philip Tan draws all these high minded ideas with a lot of detail and inventive visuals. Take the lemire scientist who ripped out Kamandi’s organs–this dude’s teeth are sharp and detailed as hell. His eyewear meanwhile is flipping cool with very tiny marks giving it a more advanced look. There are many homages to Kirby as well, like the alpha bear’s coat and gloves and later a huge robot with incredible techno pieces that scream new gods. The art certainly matches the homage of Orlando’s writing.
Dude, nice eyewear!
It can’t be perfect can it?
And yet, a lot of the verbose language can drag on and feel dated. Maybe that’s the point, but more than once I wanted the story to get on with it. Given the last issue, which had at least four scene changes, this issue feels a bit stale and static.
Another issue is the rather abrupt introduction of some kind of magical scientist. Kamandi goes from smiling in a science lab to flying in a hot air balloon between pages without any explanation. One must guess at what happened between pages, but it’s clearly a case where a scene needed to be manufactured to have the second part make sense. It’s a forced plot device that isn’t implemented in the best of ways.
Is It Good?
I might be a sucker for this series, and truly it’s a lot of fun, but this issue drags and has more than a few hiccups that make it feel clunky. There are certainly some cool, big ideas and some great throwback moments, but it’s not as entertaining as previous issues and forces its story too much.