In One-Punch Man Volume 12, while Saitama and Suiryu crush the martial arts tournament, Blizzard, Child Emperor, Pig God, and other Hero Association members have their hands full with monsters. Genos slogs through this monster armageddon, turning his power up to eleven in his desperation to allow Saitama’s martial arts tournament to continue uninterrupted. Though it’s a nice thought, and Genos seems unstoppable in his accumulation of victories over monsters, ultimately Genos falls, and the monster army’s titanic general gloats as a preface to turning the screws on City Z.
When Garo’s attentions shift to the intriguingly overpowered Furry superhero Watchdog Man, the spotlight turns to that popular, powerful hero as well. In some ways, Watchdog Man, with his baldness, impassive expression, impressive strength and speed, and indefatigable and unbeatable prowess fighting monsters, is reminiscent of Saitama. Likewise, Garo’s analogue is Suiryu, who has an amoral philosophy to rival that of the Hero-Killer. While Garo believes good and evil should have a fair playing field, and vanquishes heroes to rack up the victories that evil deserves and thereby correct the injustice inherent to the moral universe, Suiryu believes the playing field of good and evil is beneath the notice of the powerful. With these analogues established, the upcoming Watchdog Man / Garo and Suiryu / Saitama battles seem to be set up as opening numbers to set the stage for the Garo / Saitama showdown.
But that’s not all! Everyone’s favorite fraudulent hero, King, plays more video games and bluffs supervillains in another bonus manga. Though a lot of bonus manga in other titles are written to create exclusive content that will sell more manga, the One-Punch Man bonus manga seem created especially for fans that already buy it. To me, it’s like a Christmas stocking—in dozens of pages, the One-Punch Man characters take a break from advancing the plot and live for themselves, in an unlooked-for comedy.
Yes, Saitama isn’t the most active ingredient of One-Punch Man Volume 12, and he isn’t even the star of the bonus manga. Yes, Saitama is still wearing the most ridiculous wig ever, and experiencing a martial arts tournament as if it was Disneyland. Yes, in the last few volumes, it seems that ONE and Yusuke Murata are focusing on everything other than Saitama in order to sell the concept (with a Poorly Disguised Pilot) of an expanded One-Punch Man universe to rival Marvel, DC, Valiant, and the other companies so lucky as to have a heavily monetizable shared superhero universe. Yes, a One-Punch Man expanded universe would be a wonderful thing, and I’m on board with wherever this monster goes. Yes, like all the volumes before it, One-Punch Man Volume 12–the token participation of Saitama notwithstanding–is the best one ever.
One-Punch Man Volume 12 arrived in stores on July 18th, 2017, and if you find it sold out, you can buy it through this hyperlink to the Viz website.
Viz Media sent the review copy.