A Tribute to the of

This one might end up being a little self-indulgent. Do you remember a couple of entries back when I mentioned the old DC Superpac’s? Somehow it kinda got stuck in my head and I decided to see if, against the odds, such a thing existed any longer. The first one I stumbled across (and shared with the webmaster) was this offering on eBay.

Pretty astonishing really, but…awfully pricey. I can understand, to an extent. It’s incredibly rare that something like that would still be around, 50+ years later and of course the seller even hinted that this would be a nearly unheard-of opportunity to crack the sack and have some mint copies that could be *shudder* slabbed.

So, I’m cruising eBay again at a later date and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a seller with a handful of them, smack dab in the middle of my childhood timeframe of 1973 and all starting at a very reasonable $9.99. One out of the batch was even something I don’t remember seeing, a 2-pack of 52-page issues. Did somebody get an old warehouse lot? Who knows? I was just blown away at the number of them and that they had survived in the first place. I put every one of them on “watch” and the night they ended, I actually scored the first auction, which was probably fortuitous, because at least one of them went for over $100.00, which was more than I was willing to spend and I got mine for about a third of that and was absolutely thrilled.

It was nearly as big a kick as receiving my first eBay purchase, a copy of Adventure Comics #353 [Sage #1] or the time I got my copy of DC Special #5 [Sage #296] back in the mail with a fresh Joe Kubert signature on the cover, dedicated to me. My Superpac will be put in my wonderful spinner rack as soon as I figure out a good way to do it, but meanwhile, I’m savoring the fact that I’ve managed to score another piece of my childhood without breaking the bank. Again, I’m flabbergasted that you can find an unopened Superpac and by the way, I have no intention of cracking mine open.

So, since you’re doubtless dying to know, it contains a copy of World’s Finest #219 and, as I suspected, a less appealing offering hiding in the center, Lois Lane #133 (though I don’t know how they knew that; there must be a listing someplace, because it’s very difficult to see what the middle comic might be) and on the back, Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, #9.

I’ve never reviewed a Kamandi story (I did review the back up tale in Kamandi #45, Sage #210, as a lead in to my interview with Joe Rubinstein) so maybe this is a good time. Fear not, I have access to an electronic copy, so rest assured that no Superpacs were harmed in the making of this edition of the Silver Age Sage.

Before I get started, let me mention that one of the markers for the twilight of the Silver Age or perhaps the dawning of the Bronze Age was Jack Kirby’s return to DC in 1970, so this is appropriate, even though it’s not Silver Age material.

Credits for this issue are short and sweet. The cover was drawn and inked by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer, respectively. “Tracking Site!” was written, drawn and edited by Jack Kirby with Mike Royer on inks and lettering. The interior is a direct take off on the cover, with Kamandi and a couple of other men aboard a balloon, being attacked by giant bats who are inexplicably wearing clothing.

Now, I realize that Kamandi was a take off on the Planet of the Apes film and that anthropomorphized animals are a big part of the formula, but I just have to ask: How did they get the clothes on the bats?

Right off the bat (ha!), some interesting effects are used by Kirby when the figure of Kamandi and whomever the guy in white is, are shown imposed over a photograph and soon they’re entering a hollowed-out globe that looks like a planet. And in a mere 5 pages, Chapter one is complete.

Chapter Two has them literally splashing down in the basket that has been disengaged from the balloon into a sort of reservoir within the globe, that seems to have metallic sides, complete with rivets and so forth. It is called “The tracking site,” and there are robots on hand, called serviteks, described as walking computers. They are basically caretakers of this place.

They transport Ben Boxer and the others to a mock-up of an aircraft carrier via raft and they are piped aboard, in accordance with tradition. Row upon row of the serviteks are assembled, saluting the returning party, or survey crew as they keep referring to themselves.

Soon they are at some classic Kirby machinery and pay a sort of fealty to the “Nasa mind” at mission control, where their suit cartridges are read and stored when they place their hands on it. The idea is that the Nasa mind will compile an accurate picture of the outside world from the inputs provided by the survey crews.

Just then, a servitek arrives and abruptly attacks the crew with what looks like a spray gun. He spares Kamandi because he was not part of the survey crew and therefore not in the robot’s programming that he para-shock them. Kamandi exclaims that the servitec has ambushed Ben, Renzi and Steve. He then scoops up a weapon and exchanges blasts with the servitek until he strikes a back-mounted tank that blows the automaton to junk.

Chapter three is called “Murdering Misfit” and Kamandi is confronted with an odd creature that looks a lot like Marvel Comics' MODOK (check out Tales of Suspense #94, October, 1967 True Believers!), being held aloft by another servitek. He calls himself the Misfit and explains that he can control the robots with mental commands.

The Misfit is about to take control of Kamandi’s unconscious companions, but the boy tries to awaken and warn them. For his insolence, the Misfit orders he be fitted with a harness seat. It seems that the more he struggles, the tighter it gets, so he relaxes and is able to breathe, but now he is hauling around the Misfit in the seat behind him like some screwy baby-carrier.

The Misfit then shows Kamandi his diabolical creation named Morticoccus, the ultimate germ, carefully contained in a jar within a large, metal cask. He boasts it has the power to destroy all life on Earth. He then continues to take Kamandi around the Tracking Site and to see the desolation. The Misfit explains that all human life had been wiped out, but he and Ben Boxer and company are not truly human and therefore survived.

Kamandi quickly makes a daring move when he notices an electrical unit by lunging backward toward it. The powerful jolt has knocked the Misfit for a loop, but he then warns Kamandi that he has just deactivated the defense systems and now the bats are entering the Tracking Site.

Kamandi scoops up the Misfit and flees as the bats begin a merciless attack. The strange creature sends out mental commands to the serviteks to engage, but they are soon overrun and now there is a danger that the germ will be released. The Misfit sends another mental command to awaken the survey crew and they show up just in time to blast the bats with weaponry, saving Kamandi and the Misfit, but there are more on the Tracking Site when the story ends on that cliffhanger, but the final panel promises, “Next month – more about Ben Boxer! The Misfit! And Morticoccus-! THE KILLER GERM!

You know, ordinarily, for whatever reason, I typically enjoy post-apocalyptic stories and I readily acknowledge the nearly incalculable contributions of Jack Kirby, but this just didn’t do it for me. Now, I won’t dismiss Kamandi out of hand. Of the work Kirby did for DC during this time period, Kamandi seems to have the most staying power, going an impressive 59 issues, Jack having total creative control over 37, but if this is indicative of the typical tale, I just found it…weird.

Despite that, I’m still overjoyed with my Superpac and it will hold a proud place in my collection.

Thoughts or comments? Make yourself heard. Fire off an e-mail to: professor_the@hotmail.com. I’m always looking for feedback of all kinds.

C’mon back March 1st for another trip into the four-color past. We’ll be waiting with a new review right here.

Until next time…

Long live the Silver Age!

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