[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Steve Rude
After Kamandi crash-lands his glider into the sea, he and his neck-sucking parasite wash ashore onto an island divided by holy war. Wolves form one tribe, and believe Odysseus is the correct name for their prophesized messiah. The Goat tribe on the other hand believes that the same messiah is called Ulysses, and both factions are committed to wiping each other out in the name(s) of their lord. Unfortunately for Kamandi, both sides believe him to be their promised divine leader.
This issue of The Kamandi Challenge sees the kid struggle unaided by any new animal friends while he’s torn between the warring religious factions. This provides a little more time for Kamandi to narrate his own feelings on the bizarre situation, which isn’t something we’ve experienced much in the previous seven issues. Kamandi’s internal rants are hilariously entertaining to read, and forms a great contrast to the grievous preaching of the tribal zealots.
This issue also contains some darker moments. Although there has been plenty of sickly twists in the tale so far (open-chest surgery being one of the toppers there), we’re only now beginning to see Kamandi suffer from the sheer surrealist nature of the world he’s caught up in. Kamandi has whizzed through locations and plot-points at breakneck pace from the beginning of the series, picking up and losing companions like a mad sex-bot with a Tinder account, so it’s very rewarding to see his scarred psyche expose itself as he morns his lost friends and wonders about his family.
The conflict of this issue plays heavily off Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, the classic Ancient Greek epic about a mythic hero named Odysseus in some Greek translations and Ulysses in the Latin translations. The Wolf-Folk even have their own Penelope prepared for Kamandi. Although I did have to look-up some of the references (I haven’t watched Hercules in a while…), the overall effect of this ideological struggle works very well as the tone shifts quite quickly from farcical to tragic.
Is a Goat-Man really a Goat-Man if he has hands and thumbs instead of hooves? How much time passed before the first non-hooved Goat was born and the creation of all the cultural mosaics? Do the thumbs help or hinder there inherent climbing abilities? Listen, I know it’s a pretty moot point but that doesn’t abate my curiosity.
Moving swiftly forward with its usual breakneck pace, but reaching new depths as the madness unfolds, this latest issue of Kamandi is another excellent installment to the madcap wasteland caper. Enjoy a sort of ancient Greek epic and witness the beginning of the end to Kamandi’s sanity.