Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Nuts & Bolts #138 - Review: Kamandi Challenge #9

Kamandi Challenge #10 is out today! So let's discuss #9. Spoilers henceforth.

Prior issue reviews:


Published By: DC Comics • 31 pages • $3.99 • full color • Art: Kevin Eastman & Freddie Williams II • Words: Tom King

What's In It?

Spoilers ahead folks last warning!

OK, where were we? Oh, right, treading water (literally and figuratively) and at the mercy of a sea serpent... And then everything went black and white. Before I even get into the story I need to talk about the art. I've spoken my mind about the art because I'm trying to review this series from all angles and objectively. The art has been everything from great to middling in quality. Perhaps if I were an artist I'd be more prone to upgrade or downgrade the art in certain issues, but even at its subjective worst it's been better than anything I could muster.

It's also been consistently in full color. Generally rather richly so. Not so this issue, which when I first flipped it open in the store struck me as odd, and then I realized I knew this art. I don't know crap about 99% of comic art, but I instantly recognized Kevin Eastman's handiwork. Hyper detailed black and white with a lot of shading. A rounded look to everything that makes thing look softer and stranger. And technology that looks like it borders on organic. After last issue the art for this made my dread melt away, I was ready to read!

Which is good because this story turned out pretty awesome. It's not perfect, but it's the kind of story that makes you want to read more. That makes you anxious for the next issue, and makes you curse the month wait to get it. Kamandi wakes from darkness, presumably swallowed whole by the serpent from the last issue, although this is now explicitly shown. He is in a rough-hewn chamber with several mutant animals. There's a door, and shortly after he wakes it opens and allows a robot (or maybe an alien wearing strange armor?) into the room. Without a word the robot takes of the mutants and leaves, the door closing behind. Kamandi's attempt to stop it is thwarted with little more effort than a backhand from the robot that sends the boy hurling across the chamber.

They, the prisoners, soon settle into routine. Kamandi trains and every time the robot arrives to take another of the prisoners he attempts to stop it, and every time he is defeated with almost casual ease. As the days tick by Kamandi trains his body as his cellmates dwindle in numbers, always he tries to save them and always he is defeated.

Until he is alone.

And finally the robot comes for him.

We never get so much as a hint of where the prisoners are taken or what lies beyond the strange door. The robot never utters a sound. Kamandi never gives up trying to fight, but in the end he too is taken into that white light beyond the portal.

The story is simple enough, but it is the struggle and the conversations that each of the prisoners has that makes this issue so interesting to me. They pose ideas of what lies beyond; a perfect world, or a never ending hell of similar rooms. The imagination of  the reader is left to fill in the story until the next issue resolves it, and while in the grade whole this may not end up the greatest issue of the series, that open ended nature makes it the greatest until #10 releases.

Rating: 90% - An great story that captures your attention and imagination.