It’s Jack Kirby’s 89th birthday and in recognition of that I present The Tablet of Revelation from Kamandi #29 (May 1975).
All of us fans build our own comic continuity in our heads, keeping bits of lore we like or think should be included and discarding those we feel do not do justice to the characters and their history. Kamandi #29 by Jack Kirby is one of those episodes of lore I keep as a character’s true story.
As far as I was concerned Jack Kirby tells the legend of the true Death of Superman in Kamandi #29. In the story it is revealed that The Man of Steel did not die in a fight scene against a creature that should have been a Highfather clone sent by Darkseid (but wasn’t). Kirby had Superman die as a real hero, preventing the planet Earth from destroying itself and being destroyed in a series of cataclysmic events that included World War 3 called by survivors as “The Great Disaster”. Though the Earth was saved the task proved too much for Superman and he later died. Years passed and all that remained of Superman and an Age of Heroes was his indestructible costume that a cargo-cult of semi-intelligent gorillas worship as a religious talisman. Kamandi, The Last Fanboy On Earth, has his own ideas for the use of the super-suit. He is desperate for a symbol for the beings of his world to rally around and rise above post-apocalyptic barbarism.
Kamandi was convinced that one day Superman would return to fix things and killed a gorilla who desired to misappropriate the costume for his own selfish ends by dumping him into lava. Interestingly, Kamandi was correct that one day Superman would return, however briefly. In a nice hat-tip to Jack Kirby, Jeph Loeb had an alternate time line Superman appear in Kamandi’s earth in Superman/Batman #16 (Feb 2005) and reference the story.
Crisis on Infinite Earths pretty much erased the fate of Superman that Kirby penned but the recent Infinite Crisis brought the possibility roaring back. In an industry where creative teams sniped at each other and rendered invalid another’s work with regularity no one refuted Kirby’s account of the death of DC’s cornerstone character.
That says a lot about the respect Jack earned.
Don’t forget to visit the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center online!