I think if I wanted to be a hipster, this is the volume where I would declare that this series is “Over.” That’s right “One-Punch Man” is no longer cool because our hero no longer embodies the title of his series. When an alien spacecraft lands on Earth and proceeds to lay waste to the city, all of the Class S heroes (and Saitama) are on hand to fight off the attack. Actually, the S-rank heroes busy themselves with fighting off an immensely powerful shape-shifting alien while Saitama strolls onto the ship and takes the fight directly to the invaders. Things go about as well as you’d expect for the bad guys until Saitama meets their leader. One punch later and… he only shatters the leader’s armor only to unveil his ultimate form! When the last page rolls around, it’s clear that they’ve been trading blows for a while.
Yeah, I know, “*spoilers*.” But c’mon, it’s not like you’re reading this series for its captivating plot. The events of this volume do raise an important question. Namely, “WHAT IS ‘ONE-PUNCH MAN’ IF ITS HERO CAN’T DEFEAT HIS ENEMIES WITH ONE PUNCH ANYMORE!?!?!?!?” The answer is one of two things: Either it’s the end of all good things in this world and all future expressions/experiences of joy will merely be pale echoes of past glories as we try to remember what true happiness really felt like as the seconds tick down towards the ends of our lives and the universe itself.
Fortunately the “or” in this situation happens to be, “Still a really damn good superhero manga.” ONE and Yusuke Murata introduce a ton of new (mostly distinct) characters and set up a seemingly insurmountable threat in an absurd yet undeniably effective manner. The S-ranks’ fight against the shape-shifter on the ground is also involving enough with its expert balance of struggle, action, and humor that it could’ve sustained the entire volume by itself. Yet we would’ve lost Saitama’s hijinks on the ship as he defeats all of their defenses with typical ease until he meets the big bad. Yeah, this may be the volume where the protagonist of “One-Punch Man” no longer defeats all of his enemies in one punch, it continues to be tremendously entertaining. Hipsters be damned.