Kamandi at Earth's End #1
August 29, 2011
Behold the story that gave birth to Superman at Earth's End!
(Shots of that comic are shown)
Linkara (v/o): My ninth episode told the tale of a dark future, where razors no longer existed, cyborg chicken people floated above the skies, twin clones of Hitler tried to create a new Reich, and Superman had trouble expressing his masculinity.
Linkara: "Superman At Earth's End" sucked then and it sucks now! However, I have a confession to make about that review: (hesitates slightly) I... didn't really burn it.
(Footage of Linkara's video of this comic is shown: the ending, in which Linkara allegedly burns the comic in a trash can)
Linkara (v/o): My copy of "Superman At Earth's End" had not arrived yet for the review, so I printed off the cover and slapped it on another book. I burned some other freebie comic. I'm telling you this because I honestly do believe in the ideals Superman embodies concerning truth and justice. For the record, though, when my copy did finally arrive, I promptly ripped it to shreds and disposed of it. Just because I wasn't able to burn it when I wanted to, doesn't mean I wasn't willing to destroy it. In fact, I really did want to burn it, but like I said, it didn't arrive in time.
(Cut to footage of Linkara burning "The Dark Knight Strikes Again")
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and also, in case you're wondering, I did burn that copy of "The Dark Knight Strikes Again". It's why that one is in my theme song now.
Linkara: (standing out in the yard) Greetings, my friends. It occurred to me after the episode was completed that you were still robbed of the opportunity to see "Superman At Earth's End" get burned, even though I had destroyed that other copy I had obtained. So... (holds a copy of "Superman At Earth's End") I got myself another one. And... (holds it up to the camera and opens it, showing the pages) as you can see, this is indeed a real copy of it. You know that, all the crappy pages, twin clones of Hitler, "My God, Adolf Hitler, two of you", that kind of fun stuff. (closes comic) And so, I will give you the burning that you so rightly deserve.
(Linkara takes out a lighter and tries to set the comic on fire with it, but it doesn't seem to be doing anything)
Linkara: At least I would, if this thing weren't made of some kind of indestructible material.
(Later, Linkara puts a piece of newspaper in the comic)
Linkara: I have returned and placed a newspaper inside the comic. It will burn now... hopefully.
(Again, Linkara takes his lighter and tries to turn it on, but for some reason, it's not turning on. The camera speeds up briefly as Linkara tries vainly to light his lighter. At last, the comic does get lit on fire and he puts it in the trash where it starts burning to an ash; cut back to a closeup of the Superman comic)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, I hear creators all the time talking about how they want to write the angst of Superman, show him alienated and alone and embracing a heritage he was never a part of.
Linkara: (sitting on the futon again, pointing to camera) And I say screw that! This is gonna sound weird to many of you, but Superman is the most human superhero of them all.
(Shots of Superman are shown)
Linkara (v/o): He's kind, he's decent, he does good whenever he can, and he genuinely wants to help people and make their lives better. He's the champion of the human race that adopted a strange visitor from another planet. We don't need to see stories about his awkward adolescence or him whining about being different. We want to see Superman kicking ass and being a superhero. If there's any angst to the character, it's in wondering how much he should use his power to help humanity, and also the fact that even though he's so powerful, he can't stop every crime, he can't be everywhere at once, and he fears being seen as a god when he isn't.
Linkara: (irritably) Which is, yet again, why "Superman At Earth's End" pissed me off so much!
(Shots of that comic are shown)
Linkara (v/o): The Superman in that book decided killing was A-OK by the end of it, and especially killing using a ludicrously impossible chain gun. Oh, they tried to tack on some nonsense anti-gun message at the end, but I already covered the hypocrisy there. This was more likely just writer Tom Veitch's vision of Superman: a bearded idiot!
Linkara: But how can "Superman At Earth's End" be even worse than we thought? Well, it's a sequel! Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Kamandi at Earth's End".
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "You're the Best" by Joe Esposito playing in the background; cut to a montage of covers of the comic series)
Linkara (v/o): I briefly touched on "Kamandi" way back in my "Countdown" review, but let's get some basics out of the way. "Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth" was created by Jack Kirby during his time at DC. DC had failed to acquire the license to make Planet of the Apes comics, so Kirby was asked to create a similar premise for a similar title. Kamandi's main series lasted from 1972 to 1978 and was about a human in a distant future, one of the few still remaining after an event called "The Great Disaster" occurred. And according to "Countdown", the Great Disaster was a sentient plague that turns humans into rat-people and rats into... human people, I guess, and that somehow led to nuclear war. Go figure.
Linkara: And naturally, an Elseworlds series about Kamandi in 1993 was inevitable. (pause) No, it wasn't. (holds up comic) Why does this exist?
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, "Kamandi" only has the loosest of connections to the DC Universe as it is, because, of course, there are very few people who want to pin down when this Great Disaster occurs, since otherwise, it'll be a little embarrassing when we reach that point and nothing happens in-universe. Sure, Kamandi has interacted with Superman and several other heroes, but the point I'm trying to make is, why do we need a Kamandi Elseworlds story when "Kamandi" is itself a "what if?" kind of scenario anyway? Oh, it's because, as we can see from the cover, we needed Kamandi wielding huge guns.
Linkara: It's a post-apocalyptic story about a future caveman! What moron said, "Let's give him a leather jacket and guns!"?
(Cut to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Duuuuuude!
Linkara: (looking away) Of course.
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the cover: it's not very good. In theory, it has some nice elements to it, with the ruined city and him emerging from a manhole, but the problem is that logic starts setting in almost immediately. First and foremost, why the hell is the manhole THAT FRIGGIN' LARGE?! No one builds a manhole with the idea of carrying ridiculously huge weapons. Oh, and on the artistic side, Kamandi's hands are each as large as his head. Yes, we're deep in in '90s-style artwork, people. Be very afraid.
Text: The BOY of TOMORROW is BACK-- to KILL the MAN of TOMORROW!
Linkara: (irritably) Oh, good, our hero is trying to kill Superman! (sarcastically) Such a likeable premise.
Linkara (v/o): The reason that kind of thing worked in the Silver Age is because we saw brightly-colored heroes and people who we know are heroic saying it. It draws our attention and makes us want to know what the story is behind it. This, however? Is anyone surprised that someone sporting weapons larger than their torso is trying to kill Superman?
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open on a floating platform.
Narrator: Ben Boxer's Log, September 26, 2101 A.D. The fires are abating in Asia, and it's time to begin our work.
Linkara: (as Ben Boxer) Cleaning up the largest post-apocalyptic dance party ever.
Ben Boxer: (narrating) We are biological machines with free will, created by the Master Scientists Guild.
Linkara: Hate to argue the small points here, buuuut technically, all humans are biological machines with free will. You're really not all that special there, Benjy.
Ben Boxer: (narrating) Our creators are dead, but they left us a duty, and a great mission.
Linkara: (as Ben Boxer) Archiving every episode of Law and Order ever made. (holds up fist) Our masters command it!
Ben Boxer: (narrating) Our duty is to find the cause of the Second Apocalypse.
Linkara: (as Ben Boxer) Our only clue is this: "DC relaunch coming September 2011".
Ben Boxer: (narrating) Our mission to cleanse the Earth of subhuman scum.
Linkara: Ah, genocide, the goal of every great scientist!
Linkara (v/o): We see a wrecked city, with most of it on fire, and of course, huge signs that say "A.C.M.E.", "B.A.S.E." and "F.E.A.R.", though the "F.E.A.R." one I think is a Dune reference, because underneath the word, it says "Mindkillers". Cute, but pointless. Ben Boxer exposits that they still don't know who or what started the Second Apocalypse, but they do know that part of it was a viral disease and that within weeks, most of the human race was dead.
Linkara: So maybe this is the world that Ray Palmer and his band of idiots screwed up in "Countdown".
Linkara (v/o): The remaining human survivors went into bunkers built after the First Apocalypse.
Linkara: How unlucky is Earth that it had not one, but (holds up two fingers) two apocalypses in the span of a hundred years? The insurance rates for the planet have got to be hell by this point.
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Ben Boxer's group goes through a city – that I presume is in Asia, since they were just talking about it – and find a bunch of guys raiding a crashed gasoline truck with a helicopter. I'd question where the hell, in a post-apocalyptic setting, one finds a helicopter, armed to the teeth, no less, but whatever. They attempt to fire on Ben Boxer's battle plate, but are easily annihilated in response. We cut to a bunker, where we meet our glam rock star, Kamandi, standing over the dying body of a guy named Fixer.
Kamandi: Ya hear that, Fixer? Somethin' bad going on topside!
Fixer: It's the Canadians, Kamandi... After the sickness, there was a war... The lousy Canadians invaded...
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The Deadly Mantis)
Tom Servo: Canada, our mortal enemy.
(Cut back to the comic)
Kamandi: It can't be the Canadians, Fixer. That was forty years ago!
Linkara: Ah, yes, the Amero-Canadian Wars. I'm still not on speaking terms with Phelous.
(Cut to Phelous)
Phelous: (annoyed) Yes, you are! I was just in your last video.
Linkara: Shut up, Phelous.
Kamandi: Mother says Canada is a night zone now!
Linkara: Canada would later be renamed "Casino", and thus "Casino Night Zone" in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was born.
Linkara (v/o): Fixer wants to get up to fix the pumps because thousands of people will die without them, but Kamandi says he'll take care of it. Later, we see that Kamandi was just humoring him because there's no one else alive.
Kamandi: Fixer's in bad shape. His mind's goin', too... He should know there's nobody left down here.
Linkara: (as Kamandi) And my mind's in perfectly good shape. That's why I'm talking to myself out loud.
Kamandi: All the brothers and sisters... all the people I can remember from when I was just a little kid... all gone. If it wasn't for Fixer and Mother... and Carol... I wouldn't have anybody. Fixer taught me everything he knows... I can repair a fusion pump with my eyes closed... And Mother taught me everythin' about computers.
Linkara: (as Kamandi) Anyway, audience, I'm glad we had this talk.
Linkara (v/o): Kamandi gets a call on his communicator from "Mother", a computer that helps maintain the bunker. He gets called back, telling him not to worry about fixing the pump just yet.
Kamandi: Mother's acting so strange lately... Something's bother her, I can tell... She keeps talking about some guy who tried to hurt her...fifty years ago!
Linkara: (as Kamandi) You're the only one that understands me, purple hover car.
Linkara (v/o): Kamandi arrives and takes a seat.
Mother: You were always a good boy... You have always obeyed me, and as* I have never regretted adopting you as my son... now at last the time of your manhood has arrived.
- NOTE: Mother did not say, "...and as I have...", she says, "...and I have...".
Linkara: (as Kamandi) Great, Mom! I've been practicing! (holds up fist) I can punch really hard now while declaring that I'm a man!
Linkara (v/o): Mother tells him that he has to leave the bunker and go into the upper world, since she's discovered the man responsible for the Second Apocalypse, and he has to hunt him down. Kamandi won't hear it, though, acting like a petulant child and just demanding to speak to Carol.
Kamandi: What can I do? I'm afraid to go outside. Please let me talk to Carol?
Linkara: Our hero: a neurotic glam rock singer who talks to himself and has the social awareness of an eight-year-old.
Mother: Naughty boy... You displease me. You haven't heard a word I said, have you?
Kamandi: Carol... I want to see Carol...
Mother: All right... You've worked hard today... You may have Carol... We'll talk later about this.
Linkara: And the lesson is: whine over and over and over, and you'll eventually get your way.
Linkara (v/o): So Kamandi goes into his holodeck. At least, I think it's a holodeck; there's no transition to him just suddenly being on a beach, so that's the nearest I can figure. And like any person who would have a holodeck, he uses it for sex. Yes, Carol is a hologram, or at least a computer program, who wants to have sex with him. So, just to reiterate, our hero turns down trying to bring justice to the guy who annihilated the Earth so he can have virtual sex. He gets more appealing by the panel.
Carol: Do you want me to take off my clothes now?
Linkara: That is traditionally how one has sex, but then again, given Kamandi's psychosis, sex could just mean styling your hair for three hours.
Linkara (v/o): Carol takes off her top when an alarm starts sounding.
Linkara: It's the boob alarm! It detected potential nudity!
Linkara (v/o): Kamandi says there's an air leak in the sector near Fixer's location, so he speeds over to get to it, since the air from outside the bunker is apparently full of disease.
Kamandi: Uh-oh... Somethin' smells funny... like rotting meat... Like Grabbers!
Linkara: (as Kamandi, holding up hand) Wait, never mind, it's Monday. It's Mother's night to cook dinner.
Linkara (v/o): Actually, the Grabbers are large, green, pig mutant things, and while they wear no clothes, they apparently do strongly believe in nose and ear piercing, along with spiked bracelets. They may be nudists, but damn it, they have a style to maintain. Fixer tells Kamandi to shoot them, which he promptly does.
Kamandi: One more of those sinister puppies--! God, to think they used to be men... Now they're vicious cannibals who think men are food!
Linkara: (confused) As opposed to the cannibals who don't think men are food?
Linkara (v/o): Oh, I was wrong; one of the Grabbers is wearing a thong. Modesty is very important when you're a vicious cannibal thing that can't speak except in grunts. Fixer dies of injuries inflicted on him by the Grabbers.
Kamandi: Crazy old man... You crazy old man... I love ya, Fixer... You're the best there ever was.
Linkara: (singing mournfully as Kamandi) You're the best around! / Nothing's ever gonna keep you down!
Linkara (v/o): Somehow knowing that there are more Grabbers, Kamandi pulls a chain gun out of his ass... which naturally has two additional mini-guns beneath it; why wouldn't it? ...and blasts them away. He resumes his narration to himself about how the Grabbers once got in and killed hundreds. He blows some more away and then looks at the airlock where they got in.
Kamandi: Mother should have alerted me... She monitors everything... Why didn't she kick in the emergency sealing system?
Linkara: (as Kamandi) Great, I take (holds up whole hand) five minutes to have virtual sex, and Windows 2101 crashes!
Linkara (v/o): Kamandi contacts Mother, who states that she did indeed open the airlock so that he could begin his quest.
Linkara: By putting him in a situation where he could have potentially gotten killed. (nods, then becomes confused) Wait, what?
Linkara (v/o): Kamandi says he isn't going anywhere.
Kamandi: I want to talk to Carol... She understands me.
Linkara: (as Kamandi, crying) I'm gonna go to my room and write poetry and listen to my Nickelback CDs. (singing) This is how you remind me / Of what I really am...
Linkara (v/o): Carol talks to him and tells him that Mother intends to force the matter, filling the area with poison gas to force him onto the surface. Carol gives him a bag of supplies, and he makes his way out.
Carol: Poor Kamandi... You have NEVER touched your naked feet to green grass and gazed up at the blue sky, except in the SIMULATED REALITIES of Mother... Now comes the hour of your SECOND BIRTH forcibly ejected from the TECHNOLOGICAL WOMB that has sustained you for all your seventeen years...
Linkara: (as Kamandi, pretending to climb a ladder) Look, Carol, this would go a lot faster if you stopped your melodramatic narration.
Linkara (v/o): He crawls out of the bunker as Mother tells him that after he finds "the evil man", everything will be all right again. Kamandi emerges right where there are a bunch of flaming cars and piles of bodies. The flaming cars are actually what impressed me most. Based on Kamandi's age and the fact that he never experienced life on the surface, we can reasonably surmise that the Great Disaster occurred at least 17 years ago, and yet those cars are still burning after all this time. And if they were lit on fire recently, then abstract expressionist artwork has probably taken over in the intervening time, considering they've been posed on little hills and all. Ben Boxer detects a life sign emerging from the bunker, which he says is surprising, considering no one is supposed to emerge from it for another fifty years. Kamandi has settled down surprisingly quickly his situation, especially with the piles of skulls and whatnot around him. Mother instructs him to go to Arizona and kill the man responsible for the destruction of the world. She supplied him with a map, and we learn that he's in New York. So, let's see: about 2,457 miles from Arizona on foot? Let's be generous and give him four miles an hour. But also the fact that he doesn't know exactly where he's going. He also has to stop for eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom. Oh, he should get there in about a month if he's lucky. Oh, and what's better? He doesn't go straight to his task; he kind of wanders around the city first.
Kamandi: This must be Fifth Avenue... I know 'cuz I've seen it a thousand times... in Mother's movie databank!
Linkara: (as Kamandi, eyes shifting around) So, uh, it's totally not a plot hole that I know my way around. I just thought I should yell that out for no reason.
Kamandi: A whole city... full of stuff. I could just take anything... anything I want...
Linkara: (as Kamandi) Even though pearl necklaces hold no intrinsic value to me, since I spent all my life in a bunker without an economic system in place.
Linkara (v/o): However, the pearl necklace must have value to mutant people with huge teeth, since one grabs the necklace and blows up the storefront. The mutants run to get to the choppa, shooting things along the way. However, Kamandi is aided by another person with bizarre-looking guns on a motorcycle. He tells Kamandi to get on the bike, which also has about ten headlights too many... Maybe it's a weapon to blind things, I don't know... and says his name is Sleeper Zom. The bike can outrun the helicopter because, as Zom says, it's "hell fast".
(Cut to a clip of Spaceballs)
Col. Sandurz (George Wyner): Prepare ship for ludicrous speed!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Zom figures that Kamandi must be from the bunker because...
Zom: ...your skin's all white like a worm.
Linkara: (confused) Were black people not allowed in the bunkers? Or were there no white people left on the surface?
Linkara (v/o): Otherwise, from the coloring, if he's supposed to be more of an albino because of a lack of sunlight, frankly, Kamandi's hair is whiter than his skin. Not saying it's necessarily wrong, I'm just saying that the color is kind of screwed up if he was supposed to be pale. They arrive back at Zom's place, where he has a big "stay out" sign outside on it. If the mutants come in full force, take one look at that sign, and then leave, utterly defeated. Kamandi is surprised that he has power, since Mother shut off the electricity to the city. Zom explains that he tapped into the bunker's power supply... pretty damn impressive, since I was under the impression the bunker was far underground, but whatever... and brings Kamandi up to the roof. There are cannons there that he plans to use to shoot down the helicopter, but before the battle can get too intense, Ben Boxer's ship shows up and destroys the helicopter. Three of the chicken men come down a ramp at them, naturally not saying a damn word.
Ben Boxer: (narrating) They were both human. Like many of their kind, they seemed inclined to meet life's problems with acts of violence.
Linkara: (as one of the chicken men) I mean, we come in with superior weapons, shine bright lights in their faces, and then act completely silent as we walk towards them with grimaces on our faces. What's not to trust?
Ben Boxer: (narrating) They had no way of knowing that their simple concussion weapons couldn't hurt a Biomech III.
(Editor's note: "Seven, not three. I misspoke.")
Linkara: (as one of the chicken men) Punch us in the stomach, though, and we'll go down like a sack of potatoes.
Linkara (v/o): The other two Biomechs take their weapons, and the two don't try to retreat or anything, and they search Kamandi's bag, finding the hot link to Mother.
One of the chicken men: Look at this, Ben... The kid's in contact with Mother Machine!
Ben Boxer: Okay. That's it. This kid from the bunker is the key... He's going to help us with our mission.
Linkara: (as Ben Boxer) Kamandi, (points to camera) are you a bad enough dude to save the President?
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with Ben Boxer revealing that they want to kill Mother, who, on the screen, looks like Princess Leia.
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic... (pauses awkwardly) was surprisingly not as bad as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, though; it still sucks.
Linkara (v/o): There is no reason why this comic needs to exist. Was there anybody out there sending in letters demanding a story where Kamandi fights in a cyberpunk apocalypse with huge, ridiculous guns?
(Cut to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Dude!
Linkara (v/o): Besides him, I mean. Ben Boxer and his group still look ridiculous, and Kamandi as a character won't shut up and is constantly narrating to himself, as if he had a split personality who needed to be kept up about things. Not to mention, if the tagline on the cover is to be believed, since they don't ever say it outright in the comic, then Kamandi is in fact supposed to be hunting Superman, and he's responsible for the Second Apocalypse. We'll get back to "Kamandi at Earth's End" somewhere down the line, but otherwise, its sequel is still worse than it.
Linkara: Overall, this book wasn't a great start, but hey, it didn't have any pretentious message about the evils of guns. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
So why didn't Mother let him have his purple hovercar, too? Seems like that'd make it easier to travel to Arizona then [sic] having to do it all on foot.
So why even bring up the Asia thing if Ben Boxer was hanging around New York this whole time?
(Stinger: Linkara stands, looking to the left, with his fists up)
Linkara: What, did you think I had forgotten this? I AM A MAN!
(Once again, he reaches out and punches offscreen, but suddenly, the screen glitches, knocking him backwards. He gets up)
Linkara: (thoroughly surprised) Well! That was new!