From the pages of last year’s Steel Cage one-shot comes the new series for the victor: Penultiman! From creators Tom Peyer and Alan Robinson, Penultiman is the world’s greatest hero. The only problem for him is that while the 21st century idolizes him, he’s from the 91st, where he was banished for being less than ultimate. Can he live in a world that loves him even though his home will never accept him?
On top of the main chapter, this issue features prose backups from Kek-W, Chris Lundy and Phillip Ellis. These extras have art by Rob Steen, Joe Orsak and Elliot Mattice, respectively. As is always the case with AHOY Comics, there’s a lot for readers to sink their teeth into.
Penultiman hits some poignantly existential notes for a comic about a superhero that hails from the 91stcentury. Don’t let the colorful characters like Zev Zolo tell you otherwise: this is a thought-provoking comic. It feels like this series is landing at the right time to ask the questions it does. What if our greatest superhero was secretly depressed? With the year that 2020 has been, it’s refreshing to see a superhero comic tackle a subject like this.
The idea that Penultiman is centuries more advanced than everyone else but still behind the people of his home time is incredibly interesting. The comic captures that big fish in the small pond feeling. There’s even a bit of Sisyphus in there, and the existential questions get more pronounced as the comic progresses.
It’s impossible to talk about this comic without heaping praise onto Alan Robinson. There’s a Silver Age appeal to Penultiman’s design, and Robinson manages to play up the larger than life aspects of the character while giving him emotional depth. His style is consistent throughout while the artwork conveys both comedy and tragedy.
While talking about how good this issue is, it’s worth asking when AHOY Comics will be considered one of the best short story magazines. They consistently put out solid prose pieces in their backups, and this issue is no different. At what point do short stories become good enough to stand on their own and not be considered an extra? The fact that each short is good enough to challenge the very noun “extras” really says something.
There’s nothing to complain about here. Penutliman’s existence feels like something to be grateful for after the summer of 2020. At times during the chapter, Penultiman’s naivety borders on hard to believe, but this feels like something the series as a whole will explore.
AHOY is onto another winner with Penultiman #1. At this stage it’s worth it for the extras alone, but the main chapter is great too, so readers are getting a lot for their money. This is a series to follow.