Bizarro Back Issues: Batman’s Post-Apocalyptic Team-Up With Kamandi
By Chris Sims
This week, DC is releasing a hardcover omnibus of Jack Kirby’s Kamandi, and it’s something I’m really looking forward to. As much as I love Kirby’s work, especially during the his time at DC when was creatingSandman, The Demon, and the Fourth World saga, Kamandi’s always been one of those books that I just haven’t had the chance to sit down and read.
That’s not to say that I’m completely unfamiliar with the character, though. It’s just that instead of Kirby’s work on the solo title, I’m mostly just familiar with that time that he teamed up with Batman to fight laser-wielding gorillas on horseback at Mount Rushmore.
That might require a bit of explanation.
For those of you who don’t know, Kamandi is, as it says on the cover The Last Boy On Earth. He lives in a far future world where the apocalyptic Great Disaster — a convenient bit of DC continuity that would later be used to explain how the 30th Century’s Legion of Super-Heroes didn’t have the records to know when they should pop back to the present and help Superman drop an elbow on Lex Luthor or whatever — has caused widespread devastation. There are, of course, the standard elements of post-apocalyptic adventure stories, like lost technology, ruined landmarks, and dudes running around in jorts, but the signature element that Kirby brought to the table came in the form of animal people.
Presumably mutated by… well, whatever kind of bomb makes gorilla-people and tiger-men instead of just blowing things up, which was a very real doomsday scenario in the DC Universe, the animal people had forged a new society and hunted mankind almost to extinction. If this all sounds slightly familiar to you, it’s probably because DC editor Carmine Infantino wanted to do a series like Planet of the Apes, and asked Kirby — who had only heard the plot of the movie without actually seeing it — if he could whip something up along those lines.
Thus: Kamandi, so called because he was raised by his grandfather among the ruins of the past in a bunker labeled “COMMAND D.” His grandfather who was also OMAC. And who, in an alternate timeline, prevented the Great Disaster, which allowed Kamandi to instead become Tommy Tomorrow. Comics, everybody!