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The Kamandi Challenge #5

Kamandi Challenge is back this week and it’s probably one of my most anticipated series. Most comics you have to read a few back issues just to understand what is going on, but not with this series. You can pick it up, enjoy it, and be satisfied even though the stories continues on. That’s because each issue features a randomly selected writer and artist who must get Kamandi out of a situation to open the issue and into a brand new one by the end. It’s a challenge for the creators to figure out how to get Kamandi to safety.

The Kamandi Challenge #5
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC Comics

So what’s it about? The official summary reads:

After the high-octane cliffhanger of the last issue, Bill Willingham and Ivan Reis take us on a unforgettable trek through the jungles of South Asia where Kamandi meets a tiger detective who promises to help him find the clues that will locate his missing parents. Is a family reunion in Kamandi’s near future? This issue ends with the most dramatic cliffhanger to date—you dare not miss it!

Why does this book matter?

Bill Willingham writes this issue, who is probably the most inventive writer of the first decade of the 2000’s with his fantastic Fables series. He’s the perfect writer for this type of book as anything goes and your imagination can run wild. Team him up with superstar artist Ivan Reis who can draw anything and you’ve got a team up that could top any other in this series.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Love that vehicle design.

What an inventive issue. Willingham changes things up for Kamandi over and over, first getting him out of the dragrace threat of the last issue, thrusting him into a castaway role, then making him part of a crew of a boat of animal people, and then helping a detective tiger. That doesn’t even cover the last third of the issue! The plot keeps changing so much you’ll think you’re reading an extra sized issue. Willingham has Kamandi face all sorts of challenges, from losing his plant girlfriend, to fighting off giant birds ridden by animals. It’s as if Willingham was told how the challenge worked and then proceeded to create multiple challenges and solutions in the issue itself. The reader never has a chance to catch their breath, which makes the reading experience an exciting and entertaining one.

The cliffhanger ends up being a whopper too and possibly the most challenging one to recover from yet. How Philip Tan and Steve Orlando get him out of this one is beyond me.

Ivan Reis draws an impeccable issue and you can only imagine with all the scene changes and plot twists in this very issue how tricky it was to draw. He’s drawing the incredible big wheelie drag race to start, detailed boats, island cities, giant birds, and strange science fiction torture like devices. Reis had to run the gamut with this issue and never disappoints. One of the trickiest elements of this series is capturing the emotions and facial expressions on animals which Reis does well here. The somewhat wizened tiger character who ends up being an interesting father like figure for Kamandi is very well drawn so that you instantly trust the character. Quite a few archetypes make appearances all captured well by Reis.

A very Groot like solution.

It can’t be perfect can it?

Look, I know the writer can do whatever they want, but Kamandi plant girlfriend did not have the powers to protect him like she does in previous issues. It’s of course not against the rules, but it did make me wonder if Willingham took an easy way out.

Is It Good?

This is an excellent issue of a series that’s filled with adventure and always good for a surprise. It’s a non-stop joy ride of adventure. Give this a look! Dare I say the creative team pushed the boundaries of the series and proved you can do a hell of a lot in a conventional sized comic book these days. Bring on issue #6!

The Kamandi Challenge #5
Is It Good?
Non-stop joy ride. Give this a look!
Action packed, filled with twists, and great storytelling all around
Gorgeous detailed art
The solution to last issue's challenge is a tad cheating in my opinon

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