Friday, 22 January 2016

One Punch-Man, Volume 1 Review (One, Yusuke Murata)

One Punch-Man is about a superhero who can, yes, defeat enemies with one punch. It’s also intended to be that stupid because it’s a parody of martial arts manga like Dragon Ball, etc.

The pretentiously-named writer “One” immediately sets the tongue-in-cheek tone right from the start: a Piccolo-lookalike begins destroying “City A” but stops in front of a crying schoolchild literally labelled “School Child”. Then One Punch-Man arrives - he’s a hero for fun, that’s his whole origin! - so the villain can announce that he’s Vaccine-Man. Why? The Earth is a living organism, humans are germs, and he’s the vaccine - he actually says that! And then One Punch-Man punches him once and it’s over. 

Clearly it’s meant to be over-the-top silly, post-modern and satirical. But once we’re past the amusing first chapter there’s nowhere to go. It’s a single gag/observation and that’s all this comic’s got! One tries introducing a mosquito villain which makes it hard for One Punch-Man to defeat because there’s so many mosquitoes, and a cyborg becomes our hero’s apprentice, but no semblance of a story emerges by the end of this first volume. All that happens is that a villain is introduced only to be punched once - repeat ad infinitum! 

Yusuke Murata’s art is fine if indistinct and generic, like most Shonen Jump manga, but One’s script is very lacking. The concept would be fine for a one-off joke strip in an anthology - the first chapter is clever, funny, entertaining and feels fresh - but as a series? I’m amazed they even got one full book out of it, let alone an entire series! And after this first volume, I can’t say I’m at all interested in seeing how One Punch-Man develops in later books, if indeed it does! 

One Punch-Man? More like One Note-Man!

One Punch-Man, Volume 1

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