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Monday, 18 February 2019
JACK KIRBY'S KAMANDI OMNIBUS...
KIRBY's KAMANDI - just what do I make of it? Of all Jack's DC work in the '70s, Kamandi is the only major one that I'd never read in its entirety - until now. I remember buying issue #29 at the time (it's possible that I'd bought #1 prior to that, but I'm not absolutely sure), and I perhaps purchased a few other issues back in the '70s, but I was never a huge fan of the title for some reason. Nowadays, I have the first 8 or 9 in the run, plus #29, but recently I took the plunge and acquired the OMNIBUS volume containing all 40 issues that Kirby worked on.
So, what's my verdict on the series? It's okay. There are some poignant moments, especially the fate of KLIK-KLAK, a giant insect, but surprisingly, considering it was JK's longest-lasting '70s mag at DC, it's probably his worst drawn of the period (his '80s SUPER-POWERS issues were worse). Dodgy perspective abounds, and the art seems downright lazy in places - though this might be down to D. BRUCE BERRY's lacklustre inking rather than Jack's pencils. The reproduction in the Omnibus isn't helped by 'black and white reconstruction' on some pages, and some of the lettering is blotchy, while other instances seem to have been completely re-lettered. (Not having the original issues to compare to, I can't be 100% sure, but the quality of lettering is definitely inconsistent, even when credited to the same guy.)
However, it's good to have finally read all the Kirby issues (GERRY CONWAY wrote the last three stories, and JOE KUBERT drew the last seven covers), even if it did take me 45-odd years to finally get there. I doubt I'll ever bother tracking down the other 19, non-Kirby issues - unless they're published in an inexpensive softcover edition. I now have every published mag that Jack produced for DC in the '70s, either in original issues or Omnibus collections, but re-reading them makes a fella realise just how much Jack benefitted from collaborating with STAN LEE.
Look at that first paragraph on the back cover below. "After shaking the very foundations of the DC Universe in the 1970s with his classic 'Fourth World' titles..." Well, DC are trying to sell the thing, so we can forgive them a spot of hyperbole, but though Jack's arrival at DC in the '70s might've rattled a couple of windows, his initial new series never really took off with most readers and were soon discontinued. It was their failure, in fact, that made titles like Kamandi possible, as Jack had a contract to produce 15 pages a week, so DC had to keep him working. Which is not to say that Jack's DC work was bad when judged on its own terms - it wasn't - but it just wasn't a patch on what he'd done at Marvel.
I'm sure that others will disagree, but I've now read everything he produced for both companies, and I know which I prefer. What about you?
Posted by Kid at Monday, February 18, 2019