Monday, August 6, 2012

Kamandi Ka-Monday: The Beginning

My Kamandi collection is incomplete. One of the issues I'm missing is number one.
Lucky for me I do have number thirty-two which is a double size issue with a reprint of number one.
It's a known fact that some parts of early Dungeons & Dragons were influenced by many sources including comic books.

The Kamandi series by Jack Kirby started in 1972. According to the Wikipedia aticle:
"DC editor Carmine Infantino had tried to acquire the license to make Planet of the Apes comic books but when this failed to happen he asked Jack Kirby for a series with a similar concept. Although Kirby had not seen the films he knew the rough outline and he had also created a very similar story, "The Last Enemy!", in Harvey Comics' Alarming Tales that predated the original Planet of the Apes novels. He also had an unused comic strip he created in 1956, called Kamandi of the Caves. So Kirby brought all those elements together to create Kamandi.[1] Although his initial plan was to not work on the comic books themselves, the cancellation of Forever People freed him up to do so."

Metamorphosis Alpha, the precursor for the Gamma World game, was published in 1976.
We have some ideas as to the inspiration of the game from this Wikipedia article:
"Ward, the game's author, stated that the original inspiration for the game was Brian Aldiss's classic science fiction novel Starship (aka Non-Stop) (1958). In the British RPG magazine, White Dwarf, issue 1, Ian Livingstone wrote a review of the game and published his own additional rules for playing Metamorphosis Alpha on Aldiss's ship. However, it is often suggested that the game was inspired by Robert A. Heinlein's 1941 novel Orphans of the Sky.[2][3] James M. Ward has stated that he was not familiar with the 1973 Canadian TV series The Starlost, a show with a similar concept, and that Metamorphosis Alpha is not based upon that series."

In any case, I'm going to be reading through the Kamandi series from the point of view of a Gamma World or Mutant Future GM.
I'll be comparing the characters, creatures, gadgets and such to published Gamma World material. I'm looking for any evidence that the comic series could have inspired parts of the game.
It's all just a theory at this point, but it should be fun at least.

Also, for an in depth look at Gamma World 1st edition please check out James Maliszewski's cover to cover posts on his Grognardia blog.
Issue one opens with a splash page of Kamandi paddling his raft through the waters of a flooded New York city-scape.
We are told that his name is "a dramatic tribute to the people who once populated Command "D", the last section of  a large underground bunker complex." (Italics are mine. More on that later.)
He is returning to the bunker where he was raised by his grandfather. He was sent out to explore what is left of the world and find any signs of civilization
He appears to be a pure-strain human equipped with minimal survival gear and armed with some sort of pistol.
After several days travel he spots what appear to be humans along the water's edge.
For reasons unknown to Kamandi, the people are startled by the sight of him. In a panic, they retreat into the forest and run away.
Later Kamandi arrives at the entrance to the bunkers. He finds that the booby-traps he set against intruders have been set off. Invaders have made their way inside.
The structure reminds me of a location in one of the scenarios in Gamma World module GW1: Legion of Gold.
Again, see the Grognardia blog for a discussion of this adventure.
Once inside, Kamandi races toward Command D to check on his grandfather.
As described in the panel, there are "miles of time-worn corridors filled with circuitry of a vanished technology!".
Sounds like a perfect set-up for a Gamma World mega-dungeon.
Also notice in the forground there is a broken sign reading "Command A".
Is it possible there could be other pure-strain humans out there named Kamanay, Kamanbee, Kamansee? Who knows?
Then...Kamandi arrives at the vault door entrance to Command D. The door is labeled "Strategic Planning Center" and apparently there are books and maps inside.
This must be the legacy of pure-strain humans and why some of them have a better grasp of the workings of high technology.
It's also reminiscent of the Vaults in the Fallout video games.
Kamandi enters and finds that the bandits have killed his grandfather.
Then he gets his first look at an intruder. He is shocked to find that it's a mutated humanoid wolf!
Very similar to the Ark species found in the Gamma World game.
A short melee ensues in which Kamandi demonstrates a superb skill in martial arts. In fact, he says he knows karate!
He is disarmed but knocks the wolf off it's feet. He must have a fairly high Dex score because he dodges gunfire and runs away into the bunker.
In a passage with water on the floor, he climbs up a wall and pulls an electrical cable off some device and drops it in the water.

As the wolfoid draws closer and walks through the water, Kamandi flips the switch and electrocutes him.
In game terms, Kamandi has demonstrated the workings of technology and electricity and has also taken advantage of the envirnment around him.
With nothing to keep him in the bunker anymore, Kamandi decides to leave and explore the larger world.
Outside he finds a vehicle that belonged to the mutant wolves.
He easily makes his "use artifacts roll" and begins his journey of exploration.
What's next for our hero? What mysteries to be encountered in this radioactive sandbox?


  1. I have no Kamandi in my comic or graphic novel collection and realize this is grossly inadequate. I do have a few issues of Creatures on the Loose featuring Thongor and hope to, eventually, acquire the complete run.

  2. Someone on G+ informed me there is a Kamandi trade paperback collecting the whole series or maybe just the Kirby issues. I'm gonna check Amazon or somewhere.
    The only drawback is it's black and white. But I don't mind with Kirby art.

  3. On second glance at Amazon, I think it is in color.

  4. The Kamandi Omnibus is excellent, and at even at that price, cheap compared to trying to put together the whole collection.

    You will also want to check out Mighty Samson, which predates Kamandi:

    You'll not the reference to the Atomic Knights; thhis series is also worth looking up:

    Both have reprints in hardback; again, expensive, but quite worthwhile, especially the Mighty Samson collection, as the classic issues can get quite expensive, even the poor-quality reading copies. Avoid the modern reincarnation of Mighty Samson; it was very disappointing.