Heroman, Vol. 4Created by Tamon Ohta, Original Concept by Stan Lee and BonesVertical, 198 ppRating: Not Rated
The superheroic adventures of Joey and his robotic companion, Heroman, continue with Tamon Ohta's Heroman, Vol. 4. The Skrugg have been defeated and a time of peace settles over Center City, but peace is the last thing in store for Joey and his friends. The mad scientist from volume 3 is determined to make Joey and Heroman pay for stealing the spotlight from him and his own robotic creation, and unlike Joey, he's got the aid of the US government backing him!
This is a bit of a slower volume, the main Skrugg plot which dominated the earlier volumes is essentially over and instead we get a chance to watch our heroes enjoy some down time before finding themselves on the run from Minami and the NIA, an intelligence agency tasked with dealing with unusual and potential threats to national security. We're also treated to the introduction of another supporting cast member, namely Joey's sister, Holly. Unfortunately not a whole lot is done with Holly and her relationship with Joey largely feels flat and not terribly familial in anyway. Likewise, instead of using some of the down time to further develop Joey's relationship with his grandmother, or even expand upon the personalities of the rest of the supporting cast, we get a beach episode. Thankfully this doesn't last for long and eventually Minami's insane plan of revenge quickly takes center stage to save us from bad comedy in the form of Cy, Holly and the Professor stalking Joey and Lina on their first date. It's also an interesting but well nodded trope within the superhero genre, the hero on the run from those he'd protect and aid. It's also worth noting that this is the first volume to show a substantial improvement in the translation. It reads much more smoothly, there are fewer awkward phrases and sentences, and the result is a much faster and more engrossing read.
The artwork maintains its strengths and weaknesses from the other volumes. Tamon Ohta does a fantastic job at cramming energy into the action sequences, and even manages to make the quieter moments enjoyable as well. Though at times the before mentioned action sequences can be a bit cluttered and lose clarity for the sake of of motion and energy. This is especially evident in the showdown between Heroman and Minami's robot. At several points during the battle it's difficult to make out the details of what's happening and where they combatants are in relation to each other. In fairness, this probably isn't helped by the distinctly non-human design of Minami's robot. Another stand out feature in this volume is the sheer glee on Minami's face throughout the battle. Ohta's been doing a solid job at conveying characters emotions throughout the series, but Minami's facial expressions just take it to a whole other level and you can't help but smile a little at how over the top and intense his facial reactions are.
Heroman remains an entertaining superhero story, one that seems like it should have a good amount of cross over appeal with American superhero fans. It's just an unfortunate that the first three volumes suffered from such poor translation work. Still, this volume shows that things are finally on track. The action is fun, if confusing at times, but the characters and the plot are pure all ages superhero cartoon-y goodness!
Heroman, Vol. 4 is available from Vertical Inc.