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Shortly after the movie Planet of the Apes became a hit, a DC editor asked artist/writer Jack Kirby to create a series with a similar premise; Kamandi was the result (but note Kirby had not seen the movie, and in fact he used the chance to revisit some older ideas of his.) Unlike most other comics Kirby created for DC, the title lasted for many years, though Kirby left before its conclusion.
In the original series, a mysterious incident known only as "The Great Disaster" caused the collapse of human civilization. A human boy survived with his grandfather in a bunker called "Command-D". When he dies, the young man — named after the place — sets outs to find more people. What he discovers is that most humans are now primitive and unable to speak, while some animals became humanoid in form and gained human-level intelligence (apparently from the effects of an experiment being carried out shortly before the Disaster). All races were now in a conflict to survive while scavenging among the ruins. Humans were treated as animals, and the animals developed their own civilizations that were suspiciously similar to ancient human ones; e.g., the tigers had a culture like the Roman Empire.
The main conflict was between the Tigers and the Apes. Kamandi tried to help the humans while avoiding the animal armies. He made friends with some of them, though, such as Doctor Canus, a science-minded hound. He also did find some humans who could speak, but they were actually androids.
During the miniseries Countdown to Final Crisis, a present-day version of Kamandi and his grandfather, after becoming involved with a sentient satellite he created and a trip to Apokolips are trnsported to an Alternate Universe where a plague from the future has re-created the setting of the original series.
Kamandi was one of the series featured in Wednesday Comics.
Tropes involving Kamandi:
- After the End
- Alternate Company Equivalent: There are plenty of similarities between this series and the animated series Thundarr the Barbarian. (Note that Kirby worked on that show.)
- Alternate Reality: Kamandi's world was just one of many possible futures for the DC Universe (and is now a Parallel Earth).
- Some of the comics featuring Kamandi were explicitly out of continuity.
- Apocalypse How: The Great Disaster was a mystery: The original series established that it had not been a nuclear war, but not what it actually was. Later Retcons did establish that it had indeed been a war, and most recently, a plague.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Cortexium, the drug that mutated the animals.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Possibly justified in that the animals may have been influenced by surviving records.
- Made of Iron: Kamandi's android friend, who could turn his body into living steel like Colossus of the X-Men.
- Multiple Choice Past: Exactly who Kamandi is supposed to have been is a mystery in itself. Kirby hinted that Kamandi was the grown-up version of the boy who starred in his version of The Sandman; later this was changed to making him OMAC's grandson. And later still, he was made to be an Alternate Universe version of DC's Space Policeman, Tommy Tomorrow.
- Science Fantasy
- Shiny New Australia: according to a map appearing in one issue, Australia was ruled by the "Kanga Rat Murder Society".
- Talking Animal: Variation: Some of the animals can talk, but humans can't.
- Title Drop: Kamandi apparently is the last boy on Earth- who can speak, that is.