Sunday, December 20, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: ONE-PUNCH MAN Volume 19


ART: Yusuke Murata
LETTERS: James Gaubatz
EDITORS: Jennifer LeBlanc; John Bae
ISBN: 978-1-9745-1170-3; paperback (March 2020); Rated “T” for “Teen”
232pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

One-Punch Man is a Japanese superhero franchise that began as a webcomic created by the writer-artist ONE.  Later, ONE joined artist Yusuke Murata to create a digital manga remake of One-Punch Man, and it began publication on Shueisha's Tonari no Young Jump website in 2012.  VIZ Media has been publishing an English-language edition of the digital manga as a paperback graphic novel series under its “Shonen Jump” imprint, beginning in 2015.

One-Punch Man focuses on Saitama, who wants to be a hero.  Beginning his superhero training when he is 22-years-old, he becomes a hero when he is 25.  He really does not look like a superhero, with his lifeless facial expression, bald head, and unimpressive physique.  But he beats the snot out of super-villains with one punch, and he even has his own disciple, the young cyborg, Genos (who really does not need any training).

As One-Punch Man, Vol. 19 (Chapters 91 to 94; entitled “All My Cabbage”) opens, the Hero Association gathers its forces before it launches its most important mission.  The Monster Association has kidnapped Waganma, the son of Mr. Nakiri, a man who has some kind of influence over the Hero Association.  Nakiri has already seen his “Nakiri Private Force” torn apart during its mission to rescue his son.  “Class S” heroes will lead the mission, with Class A and B acting as back-up, but some previously respected Class A heroes are not wanted on this mission... including a familiar face.

Elsewhere, Garo, the so-called “Hero Hunter,” invades the Monster Association's underground lair in order to rescue another kidnapped child, the sniveling, always-in-the-way, Tareo.  The boy, however, has already been chosen for some torture fun and games.  And Garo's rescue mission will bring him face to face with the most powerful monsters, including the top two monsters.

Meanwhile, Saitama is at home wondering why he has to share his hot pot with uninvited guests.  And it seems as if they are going to eat all the cabbage in the hot pot.

[This volume includes the bonus manga story, entitled “Reality Punch.”]

THE LOWDOWN:  As the year 2020 approaches its end, I can say that I have dedicated myself to the One-Punch Man manga.  It is my favorite superhero comic, and I have read at least seven volumes this year.

One-Punch Man Graphic Novel Volume 19 offers the usual battle manga.  However, of late, creators, writer ONE and artist Yusuke Murata, have focused on the half-human/half-monster, Garo, who is known as the “Hero Hunter.”  He is a great character, and I dare say as good as Saitama.  It pains me to write that because I really like Saitama, and I always look forward to him punching out a giant monster.  Still, Garo is quite the unstoppable force himself, and I find him to be as attractive an anti-hero as Marvel Comics' Wolverine once was (before Marvel Comics overexposed the character via a flood of comic book publications).  So I am recommending One-Punch Man because it has two great characters, and I wouldn't be surprised if ONE and Murata gave us a third great character sometime soon.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of shonen battle manga and of superhero comic books will want to try the “Shonen Jump” title, One-Punch Man.

9 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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