Today, DC released the first issue of The Kamandi Challenge, with an introductory section by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen and then a main story by Dan Abnett and Dale Eaglesham.
The concept of The Kamandi Challenge is that each incoming writer/artist team will leave a cliffhanger to be picked up by the previous team, "challenging" them to get the characters out of the mess they've put them in.
SPOILERS AHEAD for the first issue of The Kamandi Challenge. If you want to see a less-spoilery preview, click here.
"I love the concept of this series, so I eagerly picked up the challenge that Dan and Keith had set," Abnett told ComicBook.com. "There were many ways to go with it - they didn't leave me in an easy situation - but I went for the idea that was the most dramatic, and that best set up the direction I wanted to go in. Dale did an amazing job of realizing that scene."
The challenge he was handed? The setup for the series -- in this case that Kamandi had been living a relatively normal-seeming life up until the moment it all came crashing down on him and everyone around him -- from his grandmother to Kamandi creator Jack Kirby himself -- was shown to be a robot.
The whole series was conceived not only as a fun event series and a way to make the Kamandi property something that DC can use again, but as a celebration of the hundredth birthday of Jack Kirby, which will come later this year.
"I've always been inspired by Kirby," Abnett said. "His genius permeates so much of superhero comics. With this, it was great to be more than inspired. It was an effort to really capture the flavor, the tone, the dynamic urgency. To try and imagine 'what wild place would the King have taken this to?' and then see if I could come even close to matching that energy."
That wild energy of Kirby's created some of the most beloved characters and strangest worlds in comics. And of course it's in the spirit of that exploration and passion that the idea of The Kamandi Challenge pays forward the cliffhangers.
In Abnett's case, he ended the issue with Caesar, the father of Prince Tuftan of the tiger people, about to blow up the city by mistake when he sets up a nuclear warhead as a religious shrine.
"I put in the biggest cliffhanger I could think of, one that (to me) grew organically out of what I was setting up," Abnett said. "A rogue nuke ticking down was a perfect fit for the post-apocalypse world and the nature of Tiger City culture, and you can't really get a bigger, more immediate threat than that. I wanted to throw down the gauntlet too... but playing by the rules of the game, it was at least a scenario that I knew how I would get out of (in the most dramatic fashion possible). I can imagine several 'solutions'... but which delivers the biggest dramatic bang (uhm, no pun intended)?"
How will the next team (Peter J. Tomasi and Neal Adams) get out of it? You'll have to read next month to find out...and then check back here for a conversation with Tomasi about what he's leaving to the next writer.
You can check out both of this issue's cliffhangers, along with a note from Dan DiDio about the impetus behind the series, in the attached image gallery.
The first issue of The Kamandi Challenge is availble in comic book stores and online at ComiXology today.