Superannuated Man #1
Written and Illustrated by Ted McKeever
Published by Image Comics
Superannuated Man is a comic book about isolation. One man appears to be the sole remaining human being in a community of sentient, English-speaking animals, all of whom regard him with suspicion and fear. The setting is vaguely post-apocalyptic, or at least has followed some catastrophe which removed all the other human beings. One panel hints at some kind of nuclear or radioactive catastrophe, which might explain why all of these animals are enjoying sentience.
The book begins with two animals observing the man’s ship from a distance, talking about him with a mixture of fear and suspicion. He scares them off before returning to his ship with a bag of scavenged goods. With no food left, he’s forced to venture into town, which he acknowledges in a monologue with a mannequin may be dangerous. What we see of the world is not dangerous so much as run down. Everything left in this town appears to be crammed together or made out of junk, with garbage and the detritus of man littering the streets. Animals have inherited our mess, though they don’t particularly mind. The comic ends by following a few of the animals around the town they live in.
Ted McKeever did the artwork and the writing for this comic. The artwork has positives and minuses associated with it. The black-and-white style really lends itself to this run-down, post-collapse world. Everything has a grimy feel to it, with the black shading enhancing how dirty and poorly kept the buildings and streets are. At the same time, it also makes it hard to see what some of the panels are about. There appears to be some kind of mutated whale that appears in the middle of the comic book, but without any dialogue or narration, the reader can only guess at what it actually is. The theme of isolation is certainly an interesting one. The man doesn’t appear to have a violent relationship with the animals, but his relationship isn’t peaceful either. In promotional materials and interviews, Ted McKeever has indicated that the theme of the comic book is about a man who refuses to abide by the conventions of this new community. It will be interesting to see how this is developed in future.
For a first issue, Superannuated Man is not particularly engrossing. Of course, what’s depicted there will later prove to be significant to the plot or the comic, but in an opening issue, it leaves the reader with a lot of open questions. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that what we see is doesn’t feel immersive. In the latter half of the comic, who we see are a few animal characters that we collectively know very little about and there’s no explanation of what they’re doing or what their motivations are. With the benefit of future issues, this may make more sense, but it doesn’t work particularly well as a hook here. The comic has an interesting premise, but it needs a second and third issue to really flesh it out.