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Kamandi

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

Of all Jack Kirby's creations for DC Comics, the New Gods are probably the most famous (mainly because everybody forgets he also created Etrigan). But at the time, the only book that lasted more than a year and a half was the least-known character today.

After a mysterious ''Great Disaster'' rendered the planet a post-apocalyptic wasteland, few humans remained, and the world fell under the tribal rule of mutated beast-men. Raised by his grandfather in the ''Command D'' bunker, an underground military installation, the Last Boy On Earth, set out to explore the outside world as Kamandi. Armed only with a pistol, he crossed paths with Great Caesar and his Tiger-Men who ruled the east, as well as Czar Simian and his Ape-Men in the west, in his quest to restore humanity to a proud place in the world.

The recent Final Crisis story really did a lot to set up Kamandi's future: Command Bunker D was found under Bludhaven, which had been destroyed by a nuclear disaster; meanwhile Darkseid's minions, Simyan and Mokkari, were creating a bunch of animal-men, including tigers and apes. It all seemed to be leading that way.

Kamandi is that rarest of DCU Classics figures: one with an all-new sculpt. He's a teenager, so he can't use any of the usual generic bodies; he's mostly nude, so it's not like he can get any pieces from Robin or Beast Boy, either. He's wearing a utility belt, cutoffs and Beatle boots - certainly high fashion for the post-apoclyptic wasteland. The figure manages to look both extremely fit and extremely scrawny - this is a person whose body isn't done developing, but undergoes intense regular exercise (running away from ani-mutants). The lower edge of his jean shorts (jorts?) are sculpted, not painted, and the zippers on his boots are as well.

The face clearly isn't based solely on Jack Kirby's artwork - you can tell because it's not a complete eyesore to look at. I know a lot of people worship at the temple of Kirby, but admit it: if he were a new artist trying to get work today, no one would hire him. The face behind that lovely blonde hair is slightly blockish, but no more than Orion or Lightray.

Kamandi is quite blessed when it comes to accessories. He's got a pistol that fits in the holster on his belt, a machine gun, and some sort of futuristic blaster. All three weapons fit into his right hand very well (it's got the trigger finger extended, while the left doesn't), but being in the holster makes the pistol warp slightly. He's holding the pistol in the package, and the other two are beside him in the tray.

Backing up our claim that Jack Kirby's art is pug fugly, Mattel didn't even use it for the 75th Anniversary collector button. Rather, the art is some generic piece drawn by... nobody? Who can tell? If you ever wanted to wear a pin featuring a shirtless, long-haired, teenage boy wearing nothing but denim culottes, well, this is your lucky day.

The last boy on Earth (which is actually a misnomer, because he was always running into other humans, including some his own age) gets a pretty important part of Ultra-Humanite, the Series 14 Build-A-Figure: the torso. None of these parts are reused from Grodd, we can tell you that! Ultra-Humanite is wearing his red and yellow armor, but it only lines up properly when he's bent all the way forward.

Though Kamandi lived in a world after "the Great Disaster," the specific details of what happened were never revealed. What was revealed in the original comics, however, was the year the Great Disaster took place: the far-flung future date of... 1986. Whoops. Post-Crisis, it was revealed that since the Great Disaster never happened, the boy who would have grown up to be Kamandi instead grew up to be the even-more-obscure Tommy Tomorrow. I don't much care for Kamandi - neither the character nor anyone who uses his name online. At least, I didn't until the beautiful and experimental Wednesday Comics came out, and in honor of that story, we can be glad that Mattel made the Last Boy on Earth.

-- 03/16/11


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