Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Nuts & Bolts #145 - Review: Kamandi Challenge #12 & Series Review



Kamandi Challenge #12 is out and at last the series is wrapped up and complete. Here's my thoughts on

Prior issue reviews:

Vitals

Published By: DC Comics • 31 pages • $4.99 • full color • Art: Jill Thompson, Ryan Sook, & Joe Prado • Words: Gail Simone & Paul Levitz & José Luis Garcia-Lopez

What's In It?

Spoilers ahead folks last warning!




OK, where were we? Oh, right, Kamandi was in hard vacuum and falling toward earth. A briefly has a weird dream, or perhaps a vision of a girl like him named ... wait for it ... Kamanda. Get it, Command A, Kamanda. Ugh. Yeah, sadly it doesn't get much better.

Kamandi gets woken from his reverie by Royer and Silverback as the three plunge downward toward the Earth. No, no final confrontation on the Tek-Moon, instead with the help of his jetpack and the self sacrifice of Silverback to protect his companions Kamandi and Royer crash in the wastelands once more.

There they are attacked by a group of rats but quickly a peace is made when the rats realize who Kamandi is and take him to their leader. Gnawbit, the rat leader begs Kamandi's aid in destroying the Misfit's Terror-Naut by being the pilot for ... a gestalt of rats in the form of a huge "king rat." Mecha on rat-gestalt combat ensues with the Terror-Naut finally being destroyed by the use of a Cyclo-heart to cause a massive fusion explosion.

And then things get weird...

Kamandi at last meets his dad in the form of Jack Kirby. Kirby grants Kamandi three wishes. We get a couple of trippy almost if situations, and then Kamandi uses his third wish to apparently reset the world entirely.

OK. Story wise this issue was a disappointment for me. I don't know if this was planned or if the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Simone & Levitz but I was underwhelmed. Artistically this was a good to great issue. The panels are detailed without being busy, the story in pictures flows cleanly. World building was limited with only the introduction of the apparently techno-organic rats. Who is the Misfit? We'll never know. What happened to Kamandi's parents? They don't tell us. Truly the end did not justify the journey.

Rating:
  • Issue #12 - 50% - The final story lacks a satisfying conclusion saved only by the art.

The Series Overall

OK, So I didn't much care for the denouement of the series, but what about the series as a whole?

As a whole I can say that it was an interesting experiment. Having a variety of voices and artists on the project led to a wide array of styles of the story telling and the stories themselves. Unfortunately the "challenge" part of this project also led to very disconnected story transitions at times, and, ultimately, a less than satisfying ending. I think there's something there if there's a little more editorial oversight of the whole to ensure that the parts fit. 

That said, I think that for people new to Kamandi (as I am) it worked well as an introduction to the world. The various authors skipping about the world and introducing all corners of the setting in brief or in depth provided great world building for the most part. As a gamer, and a fan of post apocalypse stories, I could easily take what parts of this setting I was shown and flesh it out for use on a tabletop. Would it be deep and detailed? No, but that's part of the fun of playing RPGs is creating that depth and detail as GM or player in game at the table. I'd rate the world building at a 8.5 out of 10. 

Story wise the series overall is hit or miss issue to issue and the overall is a little disjointed and lacks a satisfying conclusion. Other than Kamandi there are no long term characters to last more than 2 issues which is not a point in its favor. Likewise there's a general lack of strong female characters which is also a disappointment. Story I'd rate 6 out of 10, buoyed by some of the better early issues.

Art is also hit or miss. Generally though the art was good to great. There were 2 or 3 stand out issues where the art was amazing, and only one where I really thought the art was lacking in quality and clarity for storytelling. I'd give the art a 9 out of 10 overall, with a few standouts that are easily 10s.

My overall rating of the series is an 8. I considered a 7.5 but the good parts were good enough to raise it up. 

Series Rating
  • 80% overall, or about 9 of 12 issues worth their salt.