PENULTIMAN, VOL. 1
Writer: Tom Peyer
Illustrator: Alan Robinson
Publisher: AHOY Comics
WHAT IS IT?
The penultimate version of an evolved human from the future gets sent back in time to our present-day. Superhero Penultiman is beloved by all in this science-fiction, adventure comic series. Too bad his self-esteem is anything but super.
It's Superman if Superman suffered from self-deprecation and imposter syndrome like Bojack from Bojack Horseman.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Penultiman, a superhuman born in 91st-century Earth, was exiled from his home planet by his ultimately evolved "Parent." As only a member of the next-to-last stage of human evolution, Penultiman did not belong in the time period with the Ultimates. Thus, Penultiman now serves as the 2019 past version of Earth as a hero with powers beyond recognition. Unfortunately, celebrity status fails to satisfy Penultiman.
Failing to fit in during any time period, the self-patronizing Penultiman embarks on a quest of self-discovery. His android understudy, Antepenultiman, attempts to guide Penultiman in his pursuit for fulfillment, but when Penultiman's volatile behavior incites public outcry, Antepenultiman imposes some drastic caveats onto Penultiman.
Will Penultiman ever stop hating himself? Or will self-help books and cookie binges fail to stop Antepenultiman from intervening in Penultiman's personal crusade for happiness?
Despite hailing from a future quite unlike anything we could ever imagine, writer Tom Peyer humanizes Penultiman to a degree that establishes a personalized rapport with readers.
Alan Robinson possesses tremendous talent for indicating emotional reactions on the page. Robinson's illustrations draw expressions straight from the fictional heart of Penultiman's cast of characters. His style is minimalist, yet Penultiman's internal conflicts are extracted outwardly through concrete depictions of demeanors and body language.
Lee Loughridge flavors Robinson’s art with pulpy superhero colors to temper the narrative's often sober tone with comedy and a spirit of light-heartedness.
Both Robinson and Loughridge’s stylistic pairings also manage to emulate the Silver Age comic superhero look that clearly inspired Penultiman.
Rob Steen's lettering is immaculate in every AHOY comic. His pristine speech balloon placement and robotic typeface employed for Antepenultiman's dialogue make Steen an ultimate (and definitely not penultimate letterer) in the comics industry.
The nature vs. nurture theme propels Penultiman Vol.1 from the opening pages of issue #0. Peyer and the artistic team astutely dissect the sociological debate from both sides. Readers will observe Penultiman's behavior in both environmentally affective circumstances and during conversations about Penultiman's genetic predispositions.
At one point, Penultiman’s Parent blips into 2019 from the future and demands Penultiman aid the Ultimates in a threatening situation in 91,019 C.E. The Parent insists on Penultiman’s filial piety, Penultiman eagerly accepts, and is then immediately cast off back to the past. Robinson's illustrations of Penultiman and his Parent in this sequence are paramount in parsing how the manipulation perpetuates another cycle of false hope for Penultiman.
When Penultiman cartwheels through the air at the prospect of his Parent desiring Penultiman's presence in their life again, the hilarious illustration comically juxtaposes with the dialogue communicating Antepenultiman’s rationality. The tension exists blatantly for the readers, but not for Penultiman.
Throughout the volume, Robinson's art conjures Penultiman's oscillating emotions. Readers visibly witness Penultiman's fluctuation between self-antipathy to excitement over the words of a self-help book, drawn with authenticity that grips readers.
Peyer writes Penultiman as a self-destructive, fallible superhero protagonist, which heightens the readability factor of a comic series that could have been written with less nuance.
The back matter shows awesome concept art, including images of Penultiman wearing a suit with different color schemes. Personally, I'm a fan of the purple Penultiman outfit! Perhaps we could see a purple Penultiman in the future...?
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Due to the themes regarding self-hatred inside this comic volume, some readers may find Penultiman's attitudes and behaviors triggering if they are experiencing feelings of the same nature.
Included in this volume is the Penultiman #0 issue that appeared in AHOY's Steel Cage anthology. Issue #1 reiterates the same information in a more condensed format, but is slightly repetitive. Still, including the #0 issue fills in key narrative gaps and functions as a necessary introduction to Penultiman.
The last issue changes the tone quite suddenly. Penultiman's ending proves somewhat ambiguous and leaves open-ended room for further issues. Thus, the conclusion might not feel completely satisfactory for certain readers.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Penultiman's feelings of self-deprecation, uncertainty, and ambivalence about where one belongs in the world conjure a sense of relatability for anyone reading Penultiman Vol.1. Our futuristic, ultra-evolved protagonist desires to fulfill his preconceived notions of parental expectations. Ultimately, Penultiman fails in living up to those suppositions and plummets into a mentally stifling mindset of inadequacy. And what person hasn't endured similar emotions?
Penultiman's story is not unique to the human experience; therefore, Penultiman is utterly relatable. Readers may feel startled at how their own mentalities are reflected in the pages of this comic series. The predicaments Penultiman endures -- whether self-inflicted or situational -- pull from authentic, real-world scenarios. Yes, Penultiman Vol. 1 is a serious comic miniseries built upon themes of self-contemplation and examination. Nevertheless, Penultiman is an AHOY title, so expect satire, comedy, and even cookies!
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Legion of Super-Heroes: The Beginning of Tomorrow by Tom Peyer, Mark Waid, & Tom McCraw
The Wrong Earth: Night & Day by Tom Peyer & Jamal Igle
Project: Patron by Steve Orlando & Patrick Piazzalunga
If you like the art:
Planet of the Nerds by Paul Constant & Alan Robinson
High Heaven by Tom Peyer & Greg Scott
Atlantis Wasn't Built For Tourists by Eric Palicki & Wendell Cavalcanti
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Tom Peyer – Writer (@tompeyer)
Tom was originally a newspaper cartoonist in New York for the Syracuse New Times.
Prolific: He has written dozens of comic titles for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, as well as working as an editor at DC Comics/Vertigo from 1987 to 1993.
Tom Peyer created AHOY Comics with friend and frequent collaborator, Hart Seely.
Alan Robinson – Illustrator (@alanrobinsonr)
Alan has been a professional comic illustrator for over ten years.
He has worked for IDW Publishing, Dark Horse and Beyond Reality Media. He illustrated AHOY's Planet of the Nerds, written by writer Paul Constant.
Outlander: Alan resides in Concepción, Chile with his wife and children.
Lee Loughridge – Colorist (@leeloughridge)
Prolific: Lee is a comic book colorist who has been working in the comic book industry for decades.
He is most well-known for his work on the Batman Adventures titles from DC Comics.
Award Winner: Lee was nominated for the International Horror Guild Award for best illustrated narrative in 2001 for his work on the comic edition of The House on the Borderland. He was also nominated for a Hugo Award for his work on Fables; War and Pieces, and was recognized for his work with a Comics' Buyer's Guide Favorite Colorist Award nomination in 2004.
Rob Steen – Letterer (@RobSteen4)
Dream Team: Rob lettered The Wrong Earth Vol. 1 by Tom Peyer and is the resident letterer at AHOY Comics. You can’t pick up an AHOY issue without finding his name!
Prolific: He has lettered for all major comic book companies like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Valiant, to name a few.
Award Winner: Rob illustrated a children’s book series called Flanimals, written by Ricky Gervais. They won the Galaxy British Book Award in 2007 for Children’s Book of the Year.
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