Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth Vol 1 #58
(August-September) September, 1978
"Enter the Legionnaire"
Script: Jack C. Harris (with thanks to Bob Rozakis)
Penciller: Dick Ayers
Inker: Danny Bulanadi
Letterer: Shelly Leferman
Colourist: Mario Sen
Cover: James Sherman (pencils) and Bob McLeod (inks)
Editor: Allen Milgrom
Doctor Canus, Mylock Bloodstalker, Doile, Pyra, Spirit
Mission Monitor Board:
Fictional movie martial artists; Lobster people; the Lord of Time and Major Disaster (cameos)
The issue begins where Karate Kid Vol 1 #15 left off, with Dr. Canus and Myles Bloodstalker watching in horror as Kamandi stars in a re-enactment of Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon." Karate Kid has also been inserted into the movie, his body imprisoned in an egg-like contraption that is actually a sophisticated projection booth, and finds himself aiming a flying kick at Kamandi. Karate Kid tries to understand what's going on and why he's attacking the "blond kid" with a horde of Kung Fu students. While the Kid stands back and the martial arts students attack Kamandi, Karate Kid doesn't think much of the blond kid's fighting abilities. Suddenly, the martial arts students can no longer see Kamandi. Karate Kid attempts to talk with the blond kid, but believing him to be another image from the movie, Kamandi attacks him. As the two start to fight, the scene shifts and changes and Karate Kid states that he believes this to be another time trick on the part of the Lord of Time and Major Disaster. He recalls the events leading to the creation of Diamondeth, his trying to take her to the 30th Century, ending up in the alternate reality with the talking dogs. Kamandi interrupts him, and the Kid says that he knows Dr. Canus and Bloodstalker. As the two continue to fight after the scene change, Karate Kid's instincts telling him to do so, Kamandi realizes that Karate Kid is "real", explains that they are fighting movie images. He points towards the exterior view that they can just make out, and Karate Kid realizes they are trapped in a drive-in movie!
Outside in the real world, Dr. Canus and Bloodstalker conclude that they are dealing with a movie and that the projection booth they are nearing is where it is originating from.
Back inside the movie itself, the scene changes and Kamandi and Karate Kid find themselves in a romantic scene with several lovely young women. Karate Kid tells Kamandi that he can feel one of the women when she touches him, and Kamandi says that's due to the fact that he's not going against the role he's been cast in. Kamandi tells him they need to figure a way out of the movies and fast, as from what he knows about the old movies, another fight scene is due any moment.
Outside the projection booth building, Dr. Canus and Myles Bloodstalker are confronted by several Lobster men guards. The two manage to dodge the paralyzing rays of the rifles that are fired at them, and take cover. Bloodstalker says they need to get hold of the rifles themselves, and use some deception. They pretend to be frozen from the paralyzing effect of the rifles, and when the two guards get close enough, they snatch the rifles out of their hands and turn them on the Lobster men. With the way now clear, Bloodstalker and Dr. Canus break in to the projection room. They see that both Kamandi and Karate Kid are trapped inside two pod-like casings hooked up to the other machinery.
Back inside the movie itself, the romantic scene with the women fades away, and Karate Kid and Kamandi see that the drive-in's Lobster men customers are annoyed, as they want to see the two "Gods" perform. Kamandi realizes that's their way out - if they don't move, don't perform, the Lobster men will be disappointed and beg for a different show, with different gods. Over the next while, surviving clips from various classic movies play (including "Robin Hood", "King Kong", and "Frankenstein"), during which the two humans don't act or move in the story in any way.
Outside, in reality, the Lobster men are angry and annoyed, and charge the projection booth building to get the film changed and the two "Gods" replaced. Dr. Canus, seeing the mob charging the booth, fears the end is near for both himself and Bloodstalker, but the latter tells him that the mob is going to remove Kamandi and Karate Kid from the projection pods. As the mob breaks in, the two allies stand aside and watch the Lobster men remove the two heroes from their pods, freeing them, and assailing the projector itself. As the delicate machinery is torn apart, the giant screen bursts into flames. The Lobster men lament the fact they can't watch *any* Gods now... Meanwhile, Dr. Canus and Bloodstalker grab up the confused Kamandi and Karate Kid and use the massive fire as a distraction to escape and flee.
The glow of the flames of the burning giant screen can be seen for miles away, and is detected by Kamandi's other friends aboard Pyra's alien vessel. Pyra tells the others that it is coming rom the island where Dr. Canus and Bloodstalker went to help Karate Kid. Arriving at breakneck speed, Pyra opens the ship's hatch and Spirit spins a ladder for them to pull the four stranded friends below up to the ship. Karate Kid is the last to make it safely onto the ship, the Lobster men having pursued the four and almost having caught them. Down below, the God-Watchers conclude that the two humans rose to the heavens, taking the ultimate trip, \"...maybe to the pad of the Academy — to be in tune with the great god Oscar!" They decide Kamandi and Karate Kid really *were* Gods! The God-Watchers go back, to begin repairs to the giant screen and the projection room, and get back to watching the Gods until they decide to "fade in" again...
Back on Pyra's ship, Kamandi asks her where they are going in such a hurry. She tells Karate Kid that she managed to change Diamondeth back to Iris Jacobs, but says that she was too shocked by what she saw, and so Pyra returned her to that state once more. She tells him she cannot change her back. Pyra says that he is displaced from his own time stream, and that if he remains there he many never be able to return to his own reality. She doesn't know if her ship can use the energy from the place known as the Vortex, but if he is willing to volunteer himself, his companion and his time bubble, she will be able to experiment. However, she says that this far from the Vortex, she can only return Iris to normal or return them to where they belong. Not both. Karate Kid decides that he has to take the chance of getting back to the 30th Century where he belongs and hope that some of the technology there can return Iris to normal. When Kamandi asks, Pyra tells him that yes, she believes she's located the Vortex, the power source of the Great Disaster. She tells him that she has, ever since they've continued travelling west, but doesn't know whether that power can re-energize her ship and help her return to her own world and save her people. That will depend on whether Karate Kid's time bubble can harness the energy of the Vortex.
Elsewhere, the Lord of Time and Major Disaster are watching these events unfold. The Lord of Time confirms to Major Disaster that they are indeed watching an alternate timeline but he fears his plans to keep Karate Kid trapped there are doomed to failure. He says that the alien woman (Pyra) is tapping the Vortex; all who dabble in time travel know of it, as its power is awesome and its secret the greatest in all time and space. He tells his co-conspirator that even he cannot tap that source of energy and that if the alien woman can, Karate Kid may well elude them for all time.
On Pyra's ship, the power field is generating maximum energy and Karate Kid's time bubble starts on its travels. Before he leaves, Karate Kid tells Kamandi it was an honour to face danger at his side. In his future, he is part of a group called the Legion of Super-Heroes and that even though Kamandi has no powers, he would have made a fine Legionnaire. As the time bubble fades away, Dr. Canus tells Kamandi that perhaps in Karate Kid's reality, his counterpart is already one of his partners, a Legionnaire.
Meanwhile, Pyra continues to fly her ship and tells the others that they are almost at the Vortex. It lies just a few miles west, over the large island they are overflying. However, before they can reach it, they find tenselves facing the Wondrous Western Wall that seems to stretch on forever...
This story wraps up the plot begun by Bob Rozakis in Karate Kid Vol 1 #15, the Legionnaire's comic having been cancelled due to poor sales (among other things). I don’t really have a lot to say about the story, as Karate Kid is merely a guest star in the comic. His role is not all that large, though he is a focus point in a couple of cases (the sequence inside the movies and the ramifications of using the Vortex (more on that in a bit)). Jack C. Harris does a fine job with the story and while I can't say I was a huge fan of Kamandi, I was familiar enough with some of the basic concepts to have a rough idea of what was going on. He has an excellent grasp of the characters central to the Kamandi tale, and did a decent job in his portrayal of Karate Kid as well, though once more Val comes across a bit dense at moments, but is more true to himself here than he has been in much of his own comic series.
The how and why of Kamandi being trapped inside the drive-in movie, with no way to free himself and desperately wanting that freedom, is mirrored by Karate Kid's own struggle and insertion into the movie. Karate Kid is, to say the least, an unexpected guest star in Kamandi's comic, but the two get along when it comes right down to it, though as usual, they have their initial "disagreements". While the reader may find themselves troubled by this double drive-in movie occurrence at first, Jack C. Harris eventually connects all the dots and does so by tying it in to the Great Disaster.
It has been previously established in the Kamandi series and reiterated here that Pyra has been searching for the energy source of the Great Disaster in order that she might save her people. After a very long time it seems, Pyra and her friends have discovered that source, called The Vortex - and it is that very same energy source that allowed Karate Kid's enemies to transport him to this alternate reality. At one point, Pyra tells Karate Kid that she can use the power of the Vortex to return Diamondeth to her human form or to aid him in using the time bubble to return to the 30th Century. Figuring that he will be able to help Iris when he returns to his proper reality and time, he makes the only choice that a Legionnaire can.
I rather liked Karate Kid's last words to Kamandi, and the following sequence. As per Dr. Canus's thoughts, it's an intriguing idea that Kamandi's counterpart in the Legion reality is already a Legionnaire, but that raises the interesting thought of pondering who that character might be. I don't believe that matter has ever been addressed in Legion continuity of this time or among the fans, but it would have been interesting to explore some parallel types of plots in Legion continuity.
Finally, I had thought that Danny Bulanadi's inks in the second story of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #242 were sub-par, but based on his work here over Dick Ayres's pencils, I've come to conclude that it was Arvell Jones's pencils in the Legion story that really were problematic. The artwork in this story is very clean and finely layered in places, and Ayres and Bulanadi do a fine job. The combat sequences don't have the same "motion" feel as what we got used to in the Karate Kid series, of course, but that's not what Kamandi is all about. At least Karate Kid comes across as more European Asian in this story, as compared to the final batch of tales in his defunct title.
This story continues from Karate Kid Vol 1 #15, the final issue of the Legionnaire's defunct own series. In a totally ironic situation, Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth! Vol 1 #59 is also the wrap-up for that series as well. Both series were cancelled due to events going on with the great DC Implosion of 1978...
While some would say that this was the first crossover of DC Comics' future universes (Legion and Kamandi), one could argue that the first one actually happened in Superman Vol 1 #295 in 1976. In that story, Superman is sent by the Time Trapper into Kamandi's future and battles a descendent wearing his costume...
Then current Legion artist Jim Sherman provided the cover to this issue. It was his only Kamandi cover...
King Kong, the Frankenstein Monster and Robin Hood appear as movie screen characters. The Frankenstein Monster is based upon the Universal Pictures movie version and should not be confused with the DC character known as the Spawn of Frankenstein...
Kamandi and his troupe's story continues in Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth! Vol 1 #59...
The Lord of Time is mistakenly called The Time Lord throughout this story. Say Who? :)...
Karate Kid (and Diamondeth/Iris Jacobs) returns to the 30th Century and next appears in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #244...
Karate Kid returns to the 30th Century with Iris (as Diamondeth) just in time to meet Superboy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl at the end of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #244 as Mordru is revealed to be the one behind it all. Iris is taken to Mercury and cured early in issue #246, and returned to the 20th Century. She makes one more appearance, in Brave and the Bold Vol 1 #198...
With the disappearance of Iris, that seems to be the end of the Karate Kid time-travelling story. We never find out what Major Disaster and the Lord of Time were trying to do by tormenting the Kid. Nor do we ever see any follow-up meeting between Karate Kid and King Voxv of Orando where the Kid has to report back to His Majesty how he had fared in the past, or how he had "suffered" enough to prove his worth to the King. He simply returned to the ranks of the Legion and continued to date Princess Projectra.
Next Issue: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #243