Some interesting bits of history of teen characters:
One of Jack Kirby’s least recognized creations, Kamandi existed in a post-apocalyptic world where a “great disaster” had all but eliminated humanity and evolved other species to the point of sentience, leaving various animal factions vying for supremacy. Kamandi debuted in 1972 under his own title, but his series ended in the aptly-named “DC Implosion,” which saw DC cancel several of their comics in 1978. Unlike most of its fellow canceled lines, Kamandi had been a consistent seller.
The reason for its cancelation was explained in Infinite Crisis. During the storied comic series, it is revealed that Kamandi’s world is one of the alternate versions of the DC Universe and is actually one of several dreamed up by the Atomic Knight Garnder Grayle, because comics. Though this folded Kamandi into the DC Universe proper, he didn’t regain his own title until 2017.
Anyone remembers why the implosion happened? I think I’ve read once about it but cannot remember.
The late ’90s Teen Titans series was a strange take on the iconic team. Instead of group of sidekicks to more famous heroes striking out on their own, this version of the team consisted of the children of an invading alien force who bred with humans. They were led by a de-aged Atom and Arsenal. Though it introduced comic readers to the likes of Risk and Argent, the title was canceled after only two years.
A major factor in its cancellation concerned a poll that writer Dan Jurgens had released which asked readers who they’d like to see join the team. Tim Drake’s Robin won the vote by an overwhelming margin, but Jurgens was stonewalled by Batman editors and had to use Captain Marvel Jr. as a last-minute replacement. Fans felt betrayed and when sales refused to rise, DC pulled the trigger on this series.
Thanks, Bat-editorial -.-
After inexplicably returning from their deaths at the hands of the Beyonders, Starbrand and Nightmask go on fantastic space adventures until the latter realizes they are both slowly losing their connection to humanity. In response, both of them return to Earth to attend college while maintaining their superhero identities. Though the characters were created by Jonathan Hickman for The Avengers, they were given their own series during the 2015 Marvel relaunch written by Greg Weisman.
And therein lies the problem. Greg Weisman, for the uninitiated, is the creative mind behind beloved but short-lived projects like Young Justice and Spectacular Spider-Man. He seems to suffer from an industry curse where none of his work lasts more than two years. Unfortunately, Starbrand and Nightmask got caught up in the curse and was canceled in 2016 after just six issues.
It cannot be stressed enough just how unfortunate the curse of Weisman is. The Young Justice television show was stellar and critically acclaimed and the Young Justice tie-in comics took what should have been a generic exercise in corporate management and turned it into a universe-growing outlet of expansive creativity. When the show was canceled, the comics didn’t last past another issue, meaning both were shot down due to the same reason.
So why were these great projects ended? Money, of course. The show was a risk for Cartoon Network and was primarily funded through a toy deal with Mattel. But the show was so good that it attracted an older, more diverse audience and toy sales failed, costing the cartoon and the comics their budgets.
Hey, you know what else cannot be stressed enough? That Greg Weisman asked people to not go talking around that he is cursed because it will actively make it harder for him to get new projects greenlighted! What the hell, CBR?!
As part of DC’s New 52, Static Shock was among the mass title relaunch. One of the major draws of the production was writer John Rozum, a key writer of Milestone Comics who responded enthusiastically when DC asked him to write for the series. However, editor Harvey Richards and co-writer Scott McDaniel actively shut Rozum out of the creative process and the series visibly suffered as a result. Poor critical and audience reception was largely blamed on Rozum and he resigned from the company in fury after four issues.
With him gone, Static Shock lasted only four more issues before being canceled, essentially killed because of a writer’s squabble. Apparently the basis of the creative differences lay in Rozum’s desire to make Static, the hero of the series, look like a powerful hero deserving of his own series. Go figure.
I haven’t read Static’s New 52 series, so I need to ask what exactly they wanted him to be if not a hero. But considering it was New 52, total chaos on every front and creators leaving all the time due to editorial fuckery, I dread the answer.
Caught up in the recent explosion of Marvel cancelations, Black Panther and the Crew is one of the more shocking picks for the chopping block. Focusing on heroes of color trying to keep the peace in a restless Harlem following the death of a civil rights activist, the title was arguably more important than most comic fare because it concerned itself with the realistic depiction of issues which typically would take a backseat to colorful and symbolic villains.
The comic was canceled in six issues due to bad sales, which is indicative of numerous problems, none of which have to do with the title’s quality. Marvel didn’t give this series a chance to tell its full story and connect with audiences. And even if they did, canceling one of the most socially important comics to come out in quite some time over a low profit margin was terrible PR for the company.
And this one both so nobody says the article only shits on DC’s fuckery and to maybe show that Marvel is expressing behavior not too-different from that of DC back when they canceled those books.
Ladies and gentlemen, DC Comics is proud to give you, straight from the mind of James Tynion IV… SCIENCE Jaguar!
I totally want to play that guy in an rpg game one day now.
Kamandi Challenge #4 surprises me with one thing – consistency. We’re at one-third of the series and so far one thing was consistent though every issue. Namely that this book is batshit crazy! In the span of 4 issues we had robot Jack Kirby, nuclear warhead used as a Trojan Horse to hide a gun-toting gorilla, society of animal people growing plant people they can eat, jaguars worshipping giant jaguar god who turns out to be a a machine piloted by a mad scientist jaguar and then we end this part with a society of kangaroos hunting for sport. This book is awesome.
Leave it for a team of Tom King Kevin Eastman (co-creator of the original, dark Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Freddie Williams II (artist on Batman/TMNT and He-Man/Thundercats crossover) to tell a story unlike any other in the series both in writing and the visuals.
There is a cave or maybe belly of the sea serpent. There is a metal door. Each day a robot comes out of it and takes one person and drags them behind the door. Each day Kamandi tries to stop it and fails. Each day it takes someone else. Some go bravely, other not. Some welcome it, only to be ignored. Others try to protect their families before realizing they themselves are the target. Some it takes in the middle of their work, like a little bird who was writing her book. Some wonder what could be behind the door. Is it bad? Is it awesome? But every day the robot comes. And it takes a person and drags them behind the door. And there is nothing Kamandi can do to stop it.
Really fucking good issue - possibly darkest in the entire series but not in the typical, trying too hard to be edgy manner, but thanks to the atmosphere, inevitability of the threat and Kamandi’s inability to overcome it. After many issues of jumping from one mad adventure to another such slower, the atmospheric issue really stands out and its ability to be viewed on its own yet still adhere to rules set by the format of this series are a testament to Tom King’s writing skill. Some say artists did the most of the heavy lifting here, but I think that it’s missing the point in comics - good writer will know where to step back and let the artist carry the story and King does that here, allowing Eastman and Williams to build the atmosphere and visuals unlike rest of this book that truly sells this issue.
Holy shit Jack Kirby did design for Thundarr The Barbarian.
Comic book writer-artist Jack Kirby worked on the production design for the show. While many people believe that Kirby was the primary designer of the show (mainly due to his similarly themed Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth), the main characters were in fact designed by fellow comic book writer-artist Alex Toth, who also designed the popular character Space Ghost for Saturday morning television. Toth, however, was unavailable to continue working on the show, so most of the wizards and other villains and secondary characters that appear on the show were designed by Kirby. He was brought onto the show at the recommendation of comic writer Steve Gerber and comics and animation veteran Mark Evanier, who realized that the same imagination that produced Kamandi could contribute significantly to the series. Indeed, the evil wizard Gemini, the only repeating villain on the show, resembles Darkseid, an infamous Kirby villain.
It’s almost impossible not to recognize Jack Kirby’s contribution to comics, and to pop culture in general. As co-creator of Captain America, the X-Men, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four and numerous others, his vision has reverberated throughout the popular collective unconscious for decades. What’s easy to overlook, however, is that while Kirby was adept not only at creating icons but also at tapping into the zeitgeist of the times in a way that resonated with readers, he was much more than a keen-eyed populist. Jack Kirby was an artist with seemingly boundless imagination. He was a risk-taker with a unique individual style. While it’s always entertaining, much of Kirby’s work is also challenging and complex, rich with the obsessive detail of the true visionary, one who creates not just to appeal to a wide audience, but to fulfill something within themselves, to explore and express something fundamental to the core of their being.
This is nowhere more evident than in Kirby’s less popular work from the 1970s. After his success with the aforementioned Marvel characters, he moved to DC in 1970 and created some of the most beautifully imaginative, boundary-pushing, medium-elevating work in the history of comics. Witness Kamandi, a 1972 series initially conceived as a knock-off of Planet of the Apes, but which built a vast rich mythology around the last boy on earth’s journeys around a post-apocalyptic world where humans have been supplanted by various species of intelligent animals.
Far from a simple adventure story, Kamandi is loaded with intriguing ideas and striking creative flourishes. Visually, it’s Kirby as his most brilliant. Each panel is loaded with so much dynamism, they threaten to explode off the page. The work seems to pulsate with vibrancy. Kirby’s rubble-strewn landscapes of our fallen civilization are at once breathtaking and heartbreaking. His signature double splash pages are incomparable, whether they depict the New York City skyline submerged in water or a colony of sentient apes maintaing a monstrous pastiche of techno-primitive machinery.
Kamandi is the kind of narrative that passionate readers dream of, the kind of fictional universe that vibrates with such robust vitality that it takes on a life of its own. Do yourself a favor this holiday season and take some time out of the hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping and family gatherings to let yourself be engulfed in the phantasmagorical wonderland Jack Kirby’s imagination. You’ll be thankful you did.
Harris Smith is a Brooklyn-based comics and media professional. In addition to his role as a Senior Production Coordinator at comiXology, he edits several comics anthologies, including Jeans and Felony Comics, under the banner of Negative Pleasure Publications. He’s also the host of the weekly radio show Negative Pleasure on Newtown Radio.