Steve Orlando does what no previous writer has done on the Kamandi Challenge. He brings back Renzi, the mutant friend of Ben Boxer and Steve, in the latest issue of Kamandi Challenge, and takes us to one of Kirby’s unseen locations.
Overall I had been hoping for more characters, locations or references to the original run of this series. While I have enjoyed the first half of Kamandi Challenge very much, that was one area where the series had fallen short.
Well, no more. We have Renzi, travelling by a balloon, reminiscent of the craft Ben Boxer used on the way to Tracking Site, and we even get taken to Russia, the realm of the Communist Bears.
In the original run of Kamandi a world map had been printed. Many of the locations given on that map were not explored before the series was cut short. Orlando allows the reader to explore his interpretation of what Kirby had outlined, and does this very well.
The bears operate through a sort of group mind, with the “leader” unable to act of his own volition, driven by the will of the many. This proves to be less than desirable for Groznovo, the bear wearing the “crown,” and he winds up defecting to escape alongside Kamandi.
How does this all happen, when Kamandi was left without any internal organs at the end of the previous issue? Well, geez, I’m not going to tell you everything.
While I was very happy to see that Renzi, when not in his metallic form, is wearing the classic costume from the Kirby run, I had to admit that the art in this issue, by Tan and Rapmund, is my least favourite of the issues so far.
Particularly towards the climax of the issue, when Mishkingrad rises, it just doesn’t look very good to me. I was disappointed, much as I hate to admit that. And the cliffhanger to close out the issue didn’t quite feel on par, either. A shame, because the start and middle of this issue were really fun.