With the Great Disaster currently looming in the DC Universe, and with Karate Kid's adventures in Countdown somehow connected, I can't help but think that these two comics, Karate Kid 15 and Kamandi 58, may be the most important back issues around right now:
I also think we can all agree with Karate Kid here that, with its record-breaking blizzards, Carter Administration, Jonestown Massacre, 3 Popes, and birth of Ashton Kutcher, 1978 needed a good punching.
Right around the time that these two comics were published, DC cancelled a whole bunch of titles in what quickly came to be known as the "DC Implosion." For most Implosion titles, the cancellation came swiftly and without warning (much like the gastro-intestinal distress I felt from the chicken salad I made yesterday). With Karate Kid , readers were warned of the oncoming cancellation in the title's letter page (much like I should have been warned by the large amount of curry powder I put in the chicken salad). To close out Karate Kid, then, writers Bob Rozakis and Jack C. Harris, along with editor Allen Milgrom, put together this crossover featuring two 30th-century heroes from alternate futures.
Ironically, Kamandi would meet its premature end in the following issue, 59. That month launched the highly touted "DC Explosion," where DC raised the price and page count of its regular titles, with most series taking on 8-page back-up stories. Kamandi's back-up was another Jack Kirby creation, OMAC, written and drawn by Jim Starlin.
Karate Kid 15 wraps up a storyline developed over several issues, where Karate Kid's 20th-century girlfriend, Iris Jacobs, tired of always being rescued and jealous of her super-powered rival, Princess Projectra, volunteers for some dodgy experiments at S.T.A.R. Labs, the DC Universe home for ethically questionable scientific practices. These experiments go horribly wrong--or wonderfully right, depending on your perspective--and Iris is turned into a mindless, indestructible killing machine called "Diamondeth." After subduing her, Karate Kid decides that only 30th century science can cure her, so he loads her in his time sphere for a return trip to his home era.
Meanwhile, the Lord of Time and Major Disaster--two villains who have been screwing with Karate Kid from issue 1--continue their dickish ways and send him on a detour to an alternate future: the post-Great Disaster future of Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth!
Upon landing in this new time, Karate Kid realizes that this isn't his 30th century when he sees Dr. Canus and Mylock Bloodstalker, two evolved dogs who are a part of Kamandi's posse. Behaving like any good superhero does when he meets a new, previously unknown group of people from whom he could learn about cultures different from his own, Kamandi proceeds to kick them in the face:
Once that's taken care of, the rest of Kamandi's crew, sans Kamandi, spends about 10 pages catching Karate Kid, and the reader, up on what's been going on in Kamandi's own book. It turns out that Kamandi has been kidnapped by some surfing lobster men, who treat him as if he were a god. All this time, Major Disaster and the Lord of Time are watching over Karate Kid, and Major Disaster chooses this moment to create a tidal wave that brings the surfing lobsters to our heroes:
After a brief and unbelievably lopsided fight, where Karate Kid discovers that his punches and kicks have no effect on the lobster men's hard shells, Karate Kid is coldcocked by a lobster man and taken prisoner. As it turns out they also worship him as a god.
You may be wondering, then, what the religious ceremonies of the lobster men look like First, their gods are placed in egg-shaped containers. Then, those containers are inserted into a projection machine, and the gods' consciousnesses are loaded into an already-existing film, which is projected onto a drive-in movie screen.
And in what movie do Karate Kid and Kamandi get to participate? Oh, it's better than you could possibly expect!
Perhaps, with this being 1978 and all, you were expecting that year's Oscar winner, The Deer Hunter, or the touching Vietnam veteran drama Coming Home, or even Woody Allen's foray into Bergmanesque drama, Interiors. However, Rozakis and Harris make the best of all possible choices by making the heroic duo the stars of Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon!
Next: the story comes to a shocking anti-climax in Kamandi 58!