There are two appropriate reactions to reading “The Superannuated Man.” The first is “that was amazing.” The second is “what the actual hell?” Over the course of its first issue, this new 6 issue mini series created, written and illustrated by Ted McKeever and published by Image Comics and Shadowline, absolutely astounds with a singularity of uncompromising vision. We are thrown straight into a world of that is both unrecognizable and instantly familiar, and it’s the single most interesting comic book I’ve picked up all year.
The Image Comics solicits and pre-release hype don’t really do “The Superannuated Man” justice. Actually, to be honest, the solicits almost ruin the book. Explanations like “dystopian future” and “humans are endangered” communicate a sort of standard, known entity that this comic book isn’t even approaching. This isn’t Days of Future Past: Black and White.
This is a super-weird book, with mutated frog-fish speaking the sort of slang that reads, “Run Skeeter Run! We’s too young an’ stoopid T’die!” This is a comic where our protagonist, the lone human (perhaps on earth), spends the first several pages speaking through a scuba mask with an intense lisp. His dialogue only becomes standard when he takes a few moments to share a conversation with a mannequin named Captain. “The Superannuated Man” is in a fiction of its own.
That’s part of the amazing appeal of McKeever’s first issue. The black and white scenic waterside landscapes, the pacing that isn’t afraid to let the art speak for itself panel after panel, all of it goes to develop an amazingly well-constructed world. McKeever doesn’t waste time explaining the world either, which is a well-worn trait of first issues. Instead you’re simply immersed in this bizarre city of frog-fish, hog-spies, and a splash page reveal that’s completely off-the-wall insane. It’s a bit confusing. No way around that. It’s also so captivating and full of detail, that I had to read the issue a second and third time. There’s tremendous value in the sort of comic book that not only warrants but demands multiple reads, and “The Superannuated Man” is in that class.
According to the dictionary, “Superannuated” means “Outdated, or old-fashioned.” In the case of this story, that descriptor seems to apply to the human-race. To borrow the Hunter S. Thompson quote used in the story “It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.” It’s unclear through one issue how much our protagonist will focus on his role as an ambassador for humanity, and part of that uncertainty is what makes “The Superannuated Man” so much fun. I have no clue where this book is going, which means it could go anywhere McKeever wants to take us.
I love “The Superannuated Man” #1. This is an ambitious book, filled with passionate black-and-white world building art and story from Ted McKeever. I fully acknowledge that this comic will not be for everyone, but if you’re a fan of literary oddities, “The Superannuated Man” is going to make pause to consider whether this is your new favorite comic.