With Penultiman’s confidence at an all-time low, he resigns himself to his base to read self-help books while Antepenultiman takes his place as Earth’s favorite superhero. But when Antepenultiman goes on a work’s night out as Penultiman’s alter ego, Penultiman has no choice but to be a superhero again.
As always with AHOY Comics there is more than just the standard comic book. This issue boasts two Kek-W prose pieces: “How to Create More Compelling Protagonists” and “Two Fisted Franz Kafka Combat Tales: The Hill,” illustrated by Joe Orsak and Rob Steen respectively. There is also the prose story “Dizzy Spells” by Kirk Vanderbeek also with art from Joe Orsak.
This issue builds on the story developing between Penultiman and his android Antepenultiman. A good chunk of the humor of this series comes from these two, with the robot ironically feeling more human. At its core the series is becoming an investigation of what it means to be accepted. It’s been hinted at before, but this issue implies it the strongest: Penultiman is his own worst enemy.
While the image of a superhero staring intently into a self-help book is inherently funny, there’s a darkness to this man who can’t understand why he doesn’t fit in. Shunned by his own timeline, that pain is following Penultiman no matter what good he does. Meanwhile, Antepenultiman fits into society seemingly effortlessly. This issue features a great scene as Antepenultiman plays the alter ego and goes on a human night out. His ability to listen to the colleagues puts Penultiman to shame, quite literally.
It’s a really engaging read and we probably all know at least one person who could learn from Penultiman’s tale (although if you recommend them this book it might be hard to take any way other than insulting). All through this, however, the humor elevates it beyond morbidly depressing. Penultiman reiterating his self-help book to a civilian in peril is one of the funniest scenes of the series so far.
Alan Robinson’s artwork is still fantastic and this issue gives him more situations to play with, including people turning into dinosaurs. The AHOY extras are all great, with Kek-W’s pieces being hilarious stand outs.
There’s little to complain about here. Penultiman’s character is beginning to inch closer to the ‘alien evil Superman’ trope in that he’s so lacking in empathy it’s hard to see how he can ever evolve. Perhaps that’s the route the series is beginning to take, but for the time being it’s getting harder and harder to relate or empathize with him. Antepenultiman is taking over as the more empathetic character in a TNG Data kind of way.
Penultiman #3 is another stellar installment of the series that asks “what if the world’s greatest hero didn’t feel like he belonged?” There’s just the right balance of humor and emotional beats (Penultiman’s pained, forced smile being particularly relatable and amusing). As with any AHOY Comic, there’s plenty of extras to make the issue even more worth it.
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