Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Catch-up ball: the disturbingly active social life of the Last Boy on Earth.

We're one panel in, and it's already better than the remake of Planet of the Apes. Back when I was mocking Kamandi, I was looking for this issue, and didn't find it until about a month later: Justice League Adventures #30, "This Better World." Written by Stuart Moore, pencils by Tim Levins, inks by Robin Riggs. It's 22 pages that make more sense than any of the Kamandi/Great Disaster stuff in 52, but moreover, for me it makes a good conclusion to Kirby's original Kamandi series. Blasphemy? Let's take a look!

As you saw above, Kamandi, Chichi (the monkey) and Tuftan (the tiger, accidentally called a lion three pages later for some reason) are racing ahead of the monkey army through the ruins of Metropolis. Tuftan sacrifices himself (off-panel, this is the kids'-friendly Justice League!) to give them time to get to a time machine, in the hopes of stopping their whole crummy future. They start to bring something through...

Meanwhile, in 2004, Superman, Green Lantern, and the Flash are visiting S.T.A.R. Labs. Days without accident: 0, as Flash is zapped by a malfunctioning raygun. As if that wasn't bad enough, Flash is thinking about "quitting the hero business."
I don't know, it's like, life is nothing but an unending series of Crises.  Crisises.  Crisi?
Superman gives Wally a pep talk about how all they can do is just help one person at a time, but is interrupted by their reason for being there: Professor Hamilton presents a monkey.

It's a potentially dangerous monkey, however, that "spoke a few crude sentences," distracted a zookeeper, then released half the animals in the zoo. Professor Hamilton says the monkey has a gene not unlike the Metagene that gives several DC heroes their powers, and wants to "jumpstart the little fellow's intelligence with this ultra-sonic brain enhancer." I know this is a comic ostensibly for little kids, but doesn't that sound like a spectacularly bad idea? Even if you'd never seen a Planet of the Apes movie? "Hey, this monkey nearly started an animal revolution. Let's make it smarter." Guh.

Superman, who is usually too polite to outright call B.S. on anything, is about to; when a weird red thing opens up in the lab. Flash goes to take a look, and promptly disappears. In the year 2156, Chichi and Kamandi were trying to get the ape and stop the experiment, but got the Flash instead. Kamandi explains to the befuddled Flash what everyone reading probably figured out: monkey+super-smarts=enslaved, then extinct, humanity.
Wait, do cheetahs usually attack apes, or am I just thinking of old Tarzan comics?
Before they can send Flash back, the ape army storms the building. Chichi is captured, and Flash and Kamandi are forced to flee. Kamandi guides Flash to his allies, the Cheetahs. Who dress and talk like pirates. I dunno, Jack Kirby, that's why. Kamandi rescued their chief's son from a tree. In short order, they manage to free the last of Kamandi's people (the apes were still working on the time machine, and thus had divided their forces) but Flash is dismayed to realize most humans are little more then cavemen now. He worries again that nothing ever gets better, but Kamandi, like Superman, points out that by helping him, Flash may have given them all a chance.

The Cheetah captain tells Flash and Kamandi that the time machine is almost unguarded, if they hurry. Kamandi sends Flash back to the past, promising that he'll never forget how the Flash helped make things better. (Wally figured he wouldn't remember if history changed.)

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Professor Hamilton theorizes that Flash disappeared when he started the brain enhancing experiment, so maybe he should activate it again, which just proves that he's bound and determined to destroy humanity. Flash arrives in time to tell him to quit it, and leave the monkey to evolve, or not, on its own. Even though he doesn't know for sure if the future's changed or not, Wally knows "I did manage to help one person. And that's the first step." Good advice. I'd say the second step is killing. All. Monkeys. (Not really, but still...)

Meanwhile, in the future, both humans and animals are intelligent, brave, and cooperative.
Until the next retcon, anyway.

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