Manga: One Punch Man Vol. 1
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
With a slew of superhero stories being told, the Viz Media title One Punch Man takes a new approach at the superhero genre (yes, I practically consider it its own genre) by brining a comedic appeal to manga readers. One Punch Man was originally a self published webcomic back in 2009, and after much anticipation Viz Media reached a successful negotiation with the series creator for a remake that began in 2012 as an ongoing Weekly Shonen Jump title. One Punch Man introduces us to Saitama, or “Caped Baldy” a 25 year old superhero with strength capable of defeating any opponent in a single punch. (Just like the title says, it’s pretty self explanatory.) Unlike many heroic figures, Saitama is created to be the most average-joe superhero, with a slender appearance, bald head, and an expressionless attitude stemming from his lack of a rivalry. In the first few pages, we are shown a dangerous villain wreaking havoc that sets up an intense beginning to a story, but Saitama’s presence instantly shifts the series to comedy by showing the uniquely designed character with little interest.
The only other character who leaves an impression like Saitama is introduced a few chapters into the manga and is known as Genos. Genos is a cyborg introduced during one of the early chapters and plays opposite of Saitama. Where Saitama is generally a bland presence to the story with little indication of his feelings, Genos strives to better the world. Genos holds a tenacity and dedication to abide justice, but his first battle leaves the aspiring hero questioning his abilities. Just about his entire introduction provides a back-story for Genos, and plays at emotions to mold him as the hero that readers will root for like a classic superhero archetype. For example, when the two cross paths the first time, Genos provides a full length summary of his life and the simplistic Saitama responds by saying he needs to shorten his biography. With Saitama being the most powerful around, Genos becomes fascinated by him and becomes the apprentice of One Punch Man.
The plot in regards to One Punch Man is fairly face value for the first volume. It embraces a superhero formula that works by using each chapter to introduce a new villain that always meets an abrupt death from the title character. With the inclusion of Genos and the occasional recurring villain, the structure of the series actually works well and feels like an accurate spoof on superhero tales, and the triumph of good vs. evil. There is a two chapter arc (which is rare for the series already) that pits the pair of heroes against a mosquito woman who controls hordes of the blood sucking insects. Even though it sounds like a campy villain or power, the arc actually brings humor while creating a great example of suspense by witnessing mass amounts of people in danger from the monster. The fact that they could incorporate the seriousness and comedic moments in this chapter gives me hope for future volumes of One Punch Man,
The art in the series is completely admirable in the ongoing series in more ways than one. Each character has well defined qualities, and can actually make characters that appear more humorous or more mainstream, but the goofy approach of using both seems to start of in a stellar way to find its direction for future volumes. The first volume of One Punch Man is a fun read, and will bring out some much needed laughter. I enjoyed the first volume and the techniques used to shift from a typical superhero story, it will surely provide entertainment to its readers looking for comedy.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-Saitama makes a perfect lead character, even with his general appearance and careless persona.
-Genos is a nice addition to the title, and gives a better look at an idealistic hero.
-It makes me happy to know that independent writers and creators can have their work appreciate in masses, turning from a webcomic to a published series.