Bravoman was once an ordinary salaryman, but after meeting Alpha Man of the Planet Alpha, a strange egg-shaped alien who bestows upon the anonymous salaryman a metal rod, a tuning fork, and 100 yen, he suddenly becomes a hero with ultimate stretchy powers and the ability to transform into a submarine. This opening exchange sets the stage for a hilarious, wacky, fourth-wall-breaking, webcomic based on a 1980s Japanese video game series of the same name. Now in a collected edition, no prior knowledge of the video game is necessary to read the comic.
In Volume 1 of Bravoman: Super-Unequaled Hero of Excellence, we are introduced to an array of intentionally bizarre heroes and villains, such as Anti Bravoman, an emo, masked wannabe villain; Waya Hime, a bubbly, pink-haired ninja who is assigned to kill Bravoman but also wants to be his girlfriend; Benjamin, a heavy metal cyborg ninja; Brave Man, an actor who makes money by dressing up as Bravoman; Lottery Man, a hyper robot who brings the heroes snacks; Dr. Bomb, a mad scientist; and Pistol Daimyo, Lord of the Fan Dance. Almost all of the characters existed in the original video games, with some modifications made to their design and personalities.
Artist Dax Gordine’s dramatically expressive characters combined with his bold color choices bring life to writer Matt Moylan’s dialogue. Each page consists of one four-panel comic, followed by comments from the artist and author and a rough sketch of the layout. The comments provide a window into the creators’ minds and are sometimes just as amusing as the comics themselves. While there is almost no continuous storyline, Bravoman will be most enjoyed when the strips are read in order.
Volume 1 collects over 130 comic strips, each dated at the bottom. Unfortunately, ShiftyLook, a website created by Namco Bandai to introduce old video game characters to new audiences in webcomic form, shut down in 2014. The Bravoman webcomic is no longer available online, and Bravoman: Super-Unequaled Hero of Excellence will be the only bound volume published.
The style of humor used in Bravoman is reminiscent of the popular anime and manga series Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, which stars a hero who uses his retractable nose hairs to fight evil. As with Bravoman, characters are often self-aware, making jokes about being in an anime.
Bravoman has appealing cartoon-style artwork and many laugh-out-loud moments. It will be best appreciated by children who don’t need their humor to be logical, and it should have no problem finding an audience in most public libraries.
Bravoman: Super-Unequaled Hero of Excellence!, vol. 1
by Max Moylan
Art by Dax Gordine
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12