Review: The Kamandi Challenge #9

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

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Kevin Eastman, Freddie Williams II



In a dramatic change of pace and tone, Tom King and Kevin Eastman come together to create a beautiful tribute to the legendary Jack Kirby with their issue of The Kamandi Challenge. After escaping the war-torn island of the wolves and the sheep, Kamandi was swallowed by a never-ending sea monster and trapped in a monotone prison cell within its infinite body. He and his fellow inmates count as the days go by, preparing for the one where a mute automaton enters the cell to drag one of them through a mysterious door.


This beautifully drawn and written issue is vastly different from the work of The Kamandi Challenge’s previous collaborators. This is a slow-moving story that demands the reader pay close attention. It’s a bottle issue drawing power from the claustrophobia of the cell, the arduous passage of time, and the mystery of the other side of the door. It is a story that reduces the “Kamandi Challenge” to its most basic questions; How did we get here? How do we move on? What the hell will come next? It’s a raw and thought-provoking way of continuing Kamandi’s story, and it pays a wonderful tribute to the artist who began to tell it.

Fans of the series who’ve enjoyed Kamandi’s ever-expanding animal-themed social circle will be satisfied with the roster of furry friends our hero gets to spend some jail time with, but this time the friends aren’t magically-endowed or battle-hardened adventurers. This time we’re selling some very vulnerable people (sort of) confined and scared, or delusional, or unbelievably optimistic. It’s a brilliant menagerie to be going stir-crazy with, and all of this issue’s animal-pals contribute to the unique story being told.

This issue also features a brilliant sequence where a beaten and exhausted Kamandi narrates his story so far to his fellow captives, describing the headlines from all the misadventures that led him into his current predicament. It is a beautifully drawn sequence and although the summation of the story would/does sound as fantastical and silly as it’s actually been – there is something about the lack of colour and the cerebral tone of the writing and the artwork that really hits home this idea that this poor guy is really confused and tired.


I have no negative comments for this fantastic issue, however I would reiterate that this issue is remarkably different in its tone, content, and pace to the previous issues. If you’re a fan of The Kamandi Challenge because you love the fast action, the globetrotting, and the vibrancy of the artwork, then this month’s book might not be to your taste.


The Kamandi Challenge #9 is something special. Tom King and Kevin Eastman, Freddie Williams II took a singular, unique approach to the Challenge and produced a thoughtful story that appreciates the atrophy of Kamandi’s odyssey (yes that is a cheap callback to last week’s issue), and ultimately pays respects to the awesome legacy of its creator Jack “the King” Kirby.


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