Monday, October 7, 2019

My Hero Academia: Vigilantes Volume 6 Review

Team-Up Trouble!

Story: Hideyuki Furuhashi
Art: Betten Court
Translations: Caleb Cook
Lettering: John Hunt
Cover Price: $9.99
Release Date: October 1, 2019

Review by Luke Hollywood

(MAJOR Spoilers ahead!)

Compared to everyone else on the review beat here at Weird Science DC Comics Towers, I've got things pretty darn sweet, don't I? I can just stroll on in once every two months or so, jot down a few rambling paragraphs and slap on one of my trademark overly-positive scores and call it a day! But not this week, dear reader! As I mentioned in my review for My Hero Academia Volume 21, Viz media are pulling out all the stops this month with multiple new titles released under the My Hero Academia 'family of titles, including the very volume being reviewed here! Sure, Viz is keeping this reviewer on his toes, but when it comes to Vigilantes, I'm always happy for more of this underrated gem of a series. The last volume kicked off what I dubbed the "second season" of Vigilantes, so how does this volume fare? How will Koichi and the gang manage to come to grips with a world without Knuckleduster, and how will the Villains up their game as well? And how come the Crawler looks so darn cool on the front cover?? Read on and I attempt to explain it all!!

Explain It!:

As much as I was hyping up this series in my introduction to this review, I must admit that this volume started a little slow for me. Not that there's anything really bad with the first two chapters of this volume, with one showcasing some light-hearted antics with the Feather Hats performance group, and the other focusing on a little one-shot for Detective Tsukauchi, but they do feel like they're spinning their wheels in place a little. We made some headway in the last volume with the introduction of the new antagonist in the form of the speedy scarred man and the undercover police bust on the Trigger drug distribution, so it is a little unfortunate that steam we picked up just kind of evaporates here. In a way, these chapters serve to wrap things up temporarily with minor characters such as the Feather Hats, and even their manager Makoto, before the story shifts focus to different characters. It also helps that these chapters are pretty funny, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the time should continue with the developments from the last volume. Furuhashi must've read my mind because the following batch of chapters afterward provided plenty of action and drama for me to sink my teeth into! We shift our focus back to our central protagonist, Koichi, who is trying to upgrade his moves now that his master Knuckleduster isn't around. It looks like it'll come in handy too, as there's a powerful new villain loose on the street that is even giving Pro Hero Eraser Head a hard time. But just when it looks like it's all over for our favorite Rational Hero, the Crawler slides in to save the day!

It's always great to see Pro's like Eraser-Head make guest appearances from time to time, but the real highlight of these chapters was, surprisingly, Koichi himself. While he is a fairly constant presence in this series as it's main protagonist, a lot of the time these chapters don't feel like they're necessarily ABOUT Koichi himself. Because of his easy-going personality and his tendency to usually serve as the butt of most of the series' jokes means that the focus isn't on Koichi but the people around him and the events that he finds himself bumbling his way into. So it was a really nice change of pace to see Furuhashi give some decent development time to The Crawler, specifically in the form of a new Ultimate Move! These quirk-based finishing moves have been a staple of the main series for a long time, so it was great to see Furuhashi's spin on the concept with the debut of the Crawler's SGB (shooty- go blam)! It may be a silly name, but it's a neat and natural extension to Koichi's abilities with his slide and glide quirk. They may be fleeting, but the rare moments where The Crawler gets to have a genuine hero moment are always satisfying. On top of the Koichi upgrade, these chapters also provide a bit of world-building for the super-powered society of My Hero Academia, as we see the unfortunate reality of living with an unconventional quirk and getting neglected by society. While the unfortunate Praying Mantis Man's points are ultimately pish-poshed by his buddies, it was an interesting scene that showcases Furuhashi's knack for really exploring the world of My Hero Academia to an extent that the main series doesn't really get a chance to. Finally, it also gives us some much needed background on our mysterious Scarred speedster, revealing a past with a Hero mentor and a connection with the big bad orchestrating the Trigger deployment. This mentor figure is also brought up on numerous occasions throughout the volume, so it might be a good idea to keep him in mind (especially because he has a kick-ass costume design inspired by the Flash, according to his design notes!) With all that world building, action and quality time in the spotlight for Koichi, these chapters are definitely an improvement to the slow start we had earlier. But the volume isn't over yet!

The other main 'story' contained in this volume is a series of chapters devoted to an undercover operation to bust another Trigger pusher and an unexpected team-up in the form of Pop ☆ Step and... Midnight?!? Apparently, the perpetrator strikes during College mixers and left a slew of victims in their wake. Ever the opportunist to witness the flowers of love blossom in youth, a disguised Midnight is on the case to shut down the pusher, and she ends up roping poor Pop in on the undercover action as well. And of course, Koichi manages to bumble his way in as well, and even becomes the man of the hour with the ladies for a while, which the secretly-smitten Kazuho definitely doesn't appreciate! Like Midnight, she is also in disguise, not that a dummy like Koichi would notice anyway (he turns out to be completely oblivious to the whole operation afterward, much to Kazuho's chagrin.) In an unexpected twist, it turns out the real culprit behind the Trigger druggings is not the social butterfly organizing the mixers, which Midnight pegged to be the culprit earlier on, but in fact her quiet friend who is actually OBSESSED with her socialite friend to the point of extreme jealously and envy when she focuses on the guys instead of her, leading her to... drug them up and make their quirks go haywire? So you can have all the attention for herself, I guess? Admittingly it's not the most rock-solid plan I've ever heard, but it appears that this shy girl might have a few screws loose upstairs (in one scene we see her sucking up her friends vomit off a dirty towel, yuck!!), so I doubt she was able to come up with a strategic masterplan, anyways. Anyway, Midnight is able to put an end to the proceedings in short, amicable order, and Pop is left still trying to get that dummy Koichi to notice her feelings for him. Keep trying Kazuho! The volume wraps up with the police putting the pieces from these last two events together, and figuring out the Villain Factory's new goal of enhancing their Trigger victims into bigger, more powerful villains (as we see throughout this volume). By following the trail of the scarred speedster they're able to deduce that the drugs are in fact Asian in origin, imported from the Chinese market. However, it seems another player is a step ahead of the police themselves, as over in Hong Kong a hooded figure starts to make some noise, looking for answers behind the drugs. He pulls off some slick and very QUICK moves, hinting that he may be connected to our scarred speedster villain as that mysterious mentor figure, but if you thought that was interesting, wait till you see who's underneath the hood...

Now that's how you end a volume on a high-note!!

Bits and Pieces:

After a somewhat slow start, this volume proceeds to shift into high gear to deliver two unexpected Pro-Hero team-ups that are both very satisfying reads. While I personally found the Eraser-Head/Crawler team-up and it's focused on Koichi getting an upgrade to be the highlight, the Midnight/ Pop☆Step team-up was a lot of fun, even if the villains' actions were a little unbelievable. Having both events add extra layers to the Villain Factory's whole operation, and seeing the police and Heroes start to put the pieces together was also very satisfying, as you really get a sense of traction with the main plot of the story moving forward. And of course that all crescendo's with this volume's final page and the triumphant return of Knuckleduster!! But why does he look so washed-up, and where has he been all this time? And what history does he share with the scarred speedster? There's plenty of questions left to answer, and this volume left me hungry for more Vigilantes, which is always a good thing!


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