Review: Penultiman #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom Peyer
Artist: Alan Robinson
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Rob Steen
Reviewer: Tony Farina
His confidence shattered, 2020’s most magnificent superhero seeks reassurance from a strange source: his incarcerated arch-adversary, terror-scientist Zev Zollo! PLUS: text features and short prose fiction, illustrated to the ultimate!
Penultiman #2 sat with me for a while after I finished reading it, I went back and read it again. Why? Alan Robinson is why. Everything about Alan Robinson’s art is special. There is a moment, toward the end of this issue where our hero is deep in Zev’s lair and we see anguish, fear, suffering and exhaustion all at once. It is a moving page and I want to frame it. Frame after frame in this book tells a story of a man who knows he is less human than an android. Robinson paints his emotions right on his face. It is so real. We have all felt this way at least once. It is so touching and smart.
Robinson’s art encapsulates the story of a man who should be happy. Peyer tells us about the Superman problem in a whole new way. The thing about a perfect being is that he knows he isn’t perfect. Nothing ever is. Of course, the joke is that our hero is Penultiman. He is the second to last and second best. Imagine, being raised, living your life knowing you are never good enough. Imagine knowing you can do essentially everything but that, in the end, it isn’t enough. This book, in the hands of Peyer and Robinson dare to ask these questions. It is a striking piece of literature and social commentary hidden in the pages of a comic book.
I can not find any fault with this issue except that it is only twenty pages AND that it is issue two of five. That means I only have three more issues left. Already. That is simply unfair.
Penultiman #2 takes all that we thought we understood about being a superhero and smashes it with a big bag of hubris and self-loathing. I know it seems like those things should not go hand in hand, but Tom Peyer shows us how they can. I love this book and you will to.