Manga in Minutes: Heroman, Vol. 5
The final volume of Tamon Ohta’s adaption of the Stan Lee/Bones joint, Heroman is here! All the hanging plot threads of the previous four volumes come together as Joey, Heroman and his friends find themselves once more defending the earth from the resurrected and enhanced Skrugg forces. Can the final volume of this series deliver an appropriately epic climax?
The book is jam packed and moves along at an incredibly fast pace. There’s a lot of material for it to cover though, and sadly it doesn’t quite do it all justice. The volume covers everything from a tropical island vacation gone wrong, to the return of the Skrugg and the final showdown with their leader in his new, mutated form. Along the way it wraps up various subplots, reveals the origin to Cy’s injury, and much much more. Sadly, with so much material left to cram into a single volume, it often feels rushed and hurried, with certain revelations not getting the time they probably deserved, and battles with veritable armies being glossed over in a handful of pages. The most obvious example of this is with the final battle between Joey, Heroman and the Skrugg Emperor. Despite taking up nearly a third of the book it just lacks the oomph and visceral feel of their first confrontation in an earlier volume. At least it does a good job at revisiting and reinforcing the core theme of who is a hero, can be hero and what being a hero entails. Unfortunately the translation still has a few awkward moments. It’s heads and tails above what it was in the first volume, but phrases such as “don’t come in my way” really feel unnatural. That one is especially noticeable as it’s a line that’s repeated time and time again by several different characters.
The visuals are as solid as they’ve been for the entire run of the book. The action sequences are intense and Ohta’s take on a couple of key moments are lovely to look at. There are some lovely splash and double splash pages that do a good job at emphasizing and driving home the dramatic moments, giving them the visual impact they deserve, even if the lead up sometimes feels lacking. There are still some problems with clarity at times. Sound effects bleed over into other panels and mix with an array of impact lines and effects, sometime causing things to become a mishmash of indecipherable squiggles and lines. When Ohta’s on though, he does a great job at imbuing the action scenes with a wonderfully dynamic and kinetic sense of motion and impact. The quieter moments are handled surprisingly well, with the funeral of Joey’s father standing out as a wonderfully powerful visual, despite its cliched rain drenched setting. The look of despair and loss upon Joey’s mother’s face is perfect.
It’s been a fun ride and one that got off to a rocky start but managed to stabilize itself by the end. The final volume does feel a tad rushed at times, and it really seemed like the story needed a little more time to breathe. Because of this it does lose a little oomph. Despite these flaws, Heroman is undeniably an upbeat, positive superhero read with a good message about taking care of your loved ones, something that seems all to rare in many modern American superhero comics.
Heroman, Vol. 5 is available from Vertical Inc..