in reply to Possible Next Steps

It may help to reduce the scope of your question, it's pretty broad. And define what you mean by comparable to Perl: another scripting language? text parsing? web programming? speed?

For myself, I approach things like this by figuring out what my goal is, then the path to get there is more clear. For example, if my goal were to get a job in mobile computing. Then the languages are Obj-C(iPhone), Java(Android), HTML5, CSS, and jQuery.

That's just an example. What is it that you want to do?