Co-created and written by Marvel’s Stan Lee, Heroman combines the best of American superhero stories and shonen manga tropes into a fun, action-packed gateway manga series for tweens and younger teens.
In volume one, readers are introduced to Joey Jones, a hardworking middle school student who lives with his grandmother on the west coast of the US. Though he works at a restaurant in order to support himself and his grandmother, Joey leads a pretty ordinary life. He isn’t popular at school and he’s often bullied, especially by his friend Lina’s athletic older brother, who thinks Joey isn’t worthy of his sister’s attention.
Joey never complains about his situation, but when he sees a commercial for the Heybo, a high-tech remote control robot that costs over $300, he wishes he had the money to buy it. The announcer on the commercial promises that if you purchase one, “you’ll be a hero too!!!” which is all Joey wants. When he gets to school, he sees that the rich kids are already playing with the expensive toy. As luck would have it, the Heybo gets damaged, and since its owner doesn’t care about the cost, the robot is tossed aside like trash. Joey thinks he can fix the Heybo, and not only that, he can make it even better than before. Thus Heroman, as Joey calls him, is born.
Around the same time, an insect-like alien race known as the Skruggs initiate their plans to infiltrate and attack Earth. When Lina is kidnapped by the aliens, Joey wants to save her, even though he knows he’s too weak to do anything. As if in sync with Joey’s desire to rescue his friend, Heroman transforms into a gigantic, intelligent fighting machine, and together they do some serious damage to the alien landing party.
At the beginning of volume two, Joey is conflicted about his partnership with Heroman. He tries to separate himself from the giant robot and any danger that arises, but when more Skruggs make their way to Earth, Joey knows he must fight alongside Heroman to save his home. By the end of the book, Joey realizes that he can’t rely on Heroman alone; he must believe in himself and work harder to gain the physical and mental strength he will need to become a hero too.
Heroman is fast-paced with clean art and engaging, easy-to-follow battle scenes. As expected, Stan Lee makes a cameo as a nameless character in volume one, praising Joey for his hard work at the restaurant. The character design of the Skruggs is another high point for the series, as each new invader resembles a different insect; for instance, their leader Goggor has fierce eyes and a sleek, grasshopper-like body. I hope that the Skruggs will be fleshed out in later volumes, as the first two installments only scratch the surface of this intriguing and villainous alien race.
Heroman is appropriate for all ages. This is a great introductory manga series with a relatable main character and setting, an exciting robot superhero, and the name recognition of co-creator Stan Lee. Heroman would be a nice addition to school or public library collections. Five manga volumes have been released in the U.S. and the 26-episode anime series is available in Japanese with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.
Heroman, vols. 1-2
by Stan Lee
Art by Tamon Ohta
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9781935654582
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9781935654599
Publisher Age Rating: 10+