DC's The Kamandi Challenge kicks off in less than a week, and it will be the most fans have seen from Jack Kirby's beloved Last Boy on Earth since he appeared in a weekly strip in 2009's Wednesday Comics.
The series will celebrate Jack Kirby's hundredth birthday, which will be on August 28, 2017. Kirby himself only lived to be 76, but because of his importance to the comics community, his family's continued involvement in the industry, and the esteem in which he was (and his work remains) held by creators and publishing professionals alike, numerous people and organizations typically put on events to celebrate "The King."
The cover of the first issue features trade dress that puts Kirby's face, complete with his trademark cigar, on the cover, surrounded by Kirby Krackle, the word "King" and the number 100.
Inside the issue, the tribute is no less subtle, as ComicBook.com learned when DC provided us with an exclusive preview of the issue, which will run tomorrow.
The oversized first issue appears to feature two different stories, including one taking place closer to today than in the apocalyptic future of Kamandi. In that sequence, a young man is walking down the streets of what looks like Greenwich Village when he encounters a familiar face...
"Through the power of his imagination and seemingly endless energy and creativity, Jack Kirby made not just an indelible Kirby-Crackled mark on the world of comic books, but he ended up shaping the entirety of pop culture as it exists today," said DC Publisher Jim Lee. "The vastness of Jack's imagination and his powers as an artist and storyteller remain unmatched to this day. I sincerely doubt we will ever see the likes of Jack 'the King' Kirby ever again."
Cover art for issue #1 was provided by Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), with interiors by Dale Eaglesham, Scott Kolins, and Keith Giffen.
DC characterized The Kamandi Challenge as one of "the first steps in an ongoing plan to recognize Kirby's contributions to DC."
The KAMANDI Challenge consists of twelve teams, where one writer and artist are paired randomly and assigned one of 12 sections of Earth A.D., the post apocalyptic world inhabited by Kirby's young hero, Kamandi. The first team begins the story in one section, while the last team ends the story in the same location. Each issue will take readers to a different portion of Earth A.D., and all teams are working completely independently of each other, so they have no idea what stories are being written. Some parts of Earth A.D. were fully developed by Kirby, while others weren't, and it's up to the creative teams to create stories worthy of Kirby's character and the world he created.
"Over two dozen of the comic industry's best and brightest talent have been selected to participate in one of the greatest comic book adventures of this, or any other decade, the Kamandi Challenge. Over two years in the making, we expect this series to reach heights of excitement and adventure worthy of 'The King' himself," said DiDio.
The first issue of The Kamandi Challenge hits the stands on Wednesday. You can get one from your local comic shop or pre-order a digital copy on ComiXology.