Review: Kamandi Challenge #5

by Michael McGale
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[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers!]

Writer: Bill Willingham

Artist: Ivan Reis



Kamandi and Vila make a costly escape from their pursuers, as Kamandi’s stumbling journey through the post-apocalyptic Australian outback breaks strange new waters and beyond. Our hero gets some more help along the way from a merry crew of free-trading sailors aboard their good ship the S.S. Typhon who provide Kamandi with an introduced to Raja, a private detective currently working a missing persons case. The chaos of the wasteland seems Kamandi fall into the paws of the deranged, albeit genius Doctor Vokolo.


This story is imaginative and dynamic. This issue maintains the rapid pace of the previous issues, where the dangers of the twisted wasteland society incessantly tear at Kamandi’s heels. The marauding raiders, bounty hunters and blood-sport enthusiasts constantly threatening the well-being of what seems like the last living human being in this anamorphic dystopian future are the perfect combination of threatening and laughable, balancing the sheer comedic value of a Tiger wearing a vest & fedora combo and the serious fear one might feel at the thought of a 6ft5in man-Tiger wearing a hat chasing me through the jungle.

The issue isn’t one large chase scene however, and the downtime is well used to introduce another round of charming characters like Babal Crow, First Mate of the S.S. Tycoon and “sea dog extraordinaire” during our hero’s brief voyage out on the coastal waters, or the first encounter and subsequent expedition with Raja, the private detective – who I hope to all that is good in the world is going to pull an oversized magnifying glass out of his trench coat pocket before this run is through.

This series also isn’t afraid to get gritty, if that means exploring some of the more twisted aspects of apocalyptic society – especially medical research. This evil scientist/doctor architype has already wormed its way into this arc so far, what with the cheetah that built an animatronic behemoth cheetah-god from spare parts and so on, however Doctor Voloko made a distinct impression during his short few panels in the climax of this issue. The inhumanity, the lack of compassion or any resemblance of a comforting bedside manner whatsoever contributed impact to this particular villain and raised the bar for this book’s cliff-hanger ending.


Okay here’s a pedantic, some might say trivial problem that I have with Babal Crow and the rest of the Typhoon crew leaving canoe-Vila behind when they picked up Kamandi on the open ocean. They said they mistook the magic tree girl for a bundle of twigs and sticks, now; why would the dog abandon the twigs and sticks. Not a good dog, that’s for damn sure. I know the animals don’t act like animals necessarily, but I argue that some basic instincts are inevitable and one of those is a Labrador fetching sticks, as well as shipwrecked humans.


This issue was a fun but thoughtful addition to the run. It added more charm, stakes and sensibility to the ongoing sprint from ever-present danger. Raja is a great addition to the character roster, but Babal can’t play fetch. Lemurs make for traumatic doctors. Vila should consider suing someone at this point.



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