Penultiman’s confidence is damaged by his robot counterpart’s ability to be a better Penultiman than him. In a strange twist of fate, Penultiman confides in someone for reassurance. That person: Zev Zollo, Penultiman’s arch enemy.
Along with the main chapter this month, readers can enjoy two short prose stories: “Rookies” by Joachim Heijndermans and “What to Do with It” by Martyn Pedler. As always with AHOY, readers should expect more.
There’s something surprisingly fresh about Penultiman’s attitude. Everyone’s had that feeling that they just aren’t good enough, that they’re missing something. Seeing that in a character like Penultiman forces readers to confront their own feelings of self-worth. If the world’s greatest superhero feels useless, how must the rest of us feel?
The series is becoming one of the more relatable stories on shelves. Especially in a climate where people spend most of their time indoors, with social media usage so high, people around the world are constantly confronted with people supposedly doing better than they are. Penultiman captures that feeling and gives it a fun, Silver Age coat of paint.
Penultiman and Zollo’s conversation along with the scene of Penultiman handling a disturbance at a supermarket really highlight the heart of the series. Not all comics need superheroes with anxiety and self-esteem issues, but when it’s done well, especially with heroes who typically are presented as gods, the effect on the reader can be quite strong.
Speaking of that Silver Age coat of paint, the artwork from Alan Robinson is fantastic. His traditional comic book style along with Lee Loughridge’s vibrant colors really contrast with Penultiman’s inner strife.
As if that’s not enough positives for one issue, the book comes with two backup prose pieces. In all, readers are getting a substantial amount for their money.
For a series like this, there are really no negatives so much as aspects that won’t appeal to all people. For example, Penultiman’s inner monologues are a highlight of the issue, but may not be what everyone wants from a comic book. The name of the series really gives the tone away, but to new readers who are won over by Alan Robinson’s glorious cover they might be surprised by what the story is really about. Still, that’s barely a negative.
Penultiman is 2020’s hero: the man who can do anything but still feels like a letdown. The superhero who believes his android does a better job than he does at being himself. It’s the perfect series for lovers of superheroes and for those who love fresh twists on classic ideas.
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