When we last left our hero, PenultiMan, he had returned to his home world, where he had hoped to be finally accepted as an equal. Before he left, he had put his Android doppelgänger AntePenultiMan in charge. Things didn’t work out like he had hoped, and he reluctantly returned home. However, upon his return, some changes had been made. His alter-ego Agent Wayne Cruz was being treated respectfully…almost as if he was liked. That NEVER happened at work. In addition, he had found that his arch-enemy Zev Zolo had apparently turned a new leaf. A change he credited to Penultimate Man. Surprised by this turn of events while he was gone, he goes to his orbital HQ and asks AntePenultiMan what happened?
For his part, his Android cohort didn’t initially think he had done anything wrong. As far as he was concerned, he had fulfilled his responsibility as expected. He proceeded as closely as he could to what the real Penultimate Man would have done. At least he thought so. Penultimate Man didn’t agree. He had went to great lengths for people to underestimate his alter-ego Wayne Cruz. By his co-workers looking down at him, he distanced himself from his super hero self. Having them treat him any differently put his secret in jeopardy.
Come to find out, AntePenultiMan had assumed that PM’s attempts at being unassuming was just a manifestation of his battle over self-worth. Especially since his own people still consider him non-superior. That was the last thing his boss wanted to hear. If he wanted to be psycho analyzed, he would hire a professional. It didn’t help that while he was venting, AntePenultiMan was looking away from him. Come to find out, he was not being ignored. AntePenultiMan was picking up a disturbance at a local shopping center. While still aggravated, he knew he needed to go to work.
Clean-Up in Aisle 5
He found a massive upheaval going on at the store. Citizens were fighting, vandalizing, and basically out of control. Seeing this, Penultimate Man followed his normal procedures to quell such disturbances. Surprisingly, it did not have the normal calming effect that it usually does. After closer examination, he detected a subsonic signal that he was familiar with. Created by Zev Zolo, it could cause groups of people to lose control and behave badly. Well…that still works. It’s source, surprisingly enough was the intercom announcements in the store. Mixed into sale advertising, and music was the signal causing the issue. To alleviate the problem, he broke through the office wall and literally crashed the office computer to kill the signal. Penultimate Man wins again! Except….
Without the signal, everyone in the store went back to normal…including the store manager. He didn’t seem to realize that anything had been eschew. All he knew was his office was destroyed as was his computer…and PenultiMan was the culprit. How typical. However, what wasn’t typical was he couldn’t seems to smooth the store manager’s feathers. He ALWAYS was able to get the citizens to embrace his good deeds. Not today. Just another thing to make him doubt his self-worth. But he didn’t have time for that. That signal was Zev Zola’s handiwork. How did he initiate it from prison? There was only one way to find out.
Paying Zev a Visit
Upon arriving at the Prison, he found his former arch-enemy literally in tears. He had been reading short stories by Tennessee Williams. Who knew Zola was so deep? Once PenultiMan told him about the store, Zev seemed visually moved. He hoped that no one had been injured. Zev also explained that his former assistant Veck had access to such equipment. He told him where his hidden base was and that he should destroy them all and apprehend Veck. What the heck happened to this guy? That exactly what PenultiMan wanted to know. He had tried continuously to get Zola to reform, but it never worked. What had changed? So he asked him. What had he said that made a difference this time? It was nothing that he said, Zola explained. It was that he listened. Hmmmm…
With all that to ponder, PenultiMan journeyed to the hidden base. All the way he continued to question his beliefs, his self worth. He wasn’t sure what made him angrier. Having self-doubts, or letting them apparently distract him. Maybe he should have sent AntePenultiMan for this. He apparently had a better grasp of things than he did. Upon breaking in to the secret base, he saw all of the creations that Zev told him about. But he also found something else. A statue of himself, sitting on a throne, and what looked like humans crawling up the front of the throne. He stared at that statue, and then exploded, blasting the throne to rubble. Looking at the destruction, he knew one thing…he needed help. Where was a good Psycho-Analyst when he needed one.
This storyline details a fascinating look at a hero that is not the confident, strong willed stereotypical prototype. He was originally made to be Superior. However, his own people deemed him substandard. Hard to feel particularly heroic when you are characterized as a failure from the start. It didn’t help that he was basically exiled to Earth. As deflating as that was, he was still a hero and the people of Earth generally accepted him as such. As Tom Peyer’s story continues, PenultiMan must somehow come to terms with his own self-esteem and move on. And what’s up with Zev Zolo? Has he really turned a new leaf or is there a deeper plot involved. I’m kind of betting on the latter. But that’s a pretty big supposition about a character I basically only was introduced to in the first issue. We await what the masterful Mr. Peyer has up his sleeve.
Once again Alan Robinson rules with his artwork. Just like in the first issue, he captures the angst in the our complicated hero’s face with skill. And seeing as he is working through a lot, he is getting plenty of opportunities to do so. And when it comes to action, Mr. Robinson is just as adept, with a nice variety of panel configurations to move the tale along. Along with Lee Roughridge’s vibrant color work, it is a brilliant book maintaining the quality that Ahoy has set a standard for.
PenultiMan continues to be an original journey through a Hero’s psyche. A brilliant expose into what makes a person accept themselves for what they are and not what other people label them to be. I so look forward to what comes next. If you haven’t read this title thus far, please check it out. Let us know what you think, here at Geek Vibes Nation.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.