In Dragon Ball Super Vol. 4, Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks face off against Goku Black! Will they master the new Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan Blue forms? Will Goku Black’s Super Saiyan Rosé form overcome them? Will Zamas outsmart them and execute his genocide on mutantkind? Is this volume good?! Tune in to this review of Dragon! Ball! Z–…Super!
Joking aside, I didn’t love this volume. I think this arc suffers from interesting ideas that don’t hold out over time. From the villain’s gimmick to the protagonist’s new power levels, there’s a lot going on in Super that piques my interest upon reveal but begins to make my eyes glaze over after a chapter or two. Goku and Vegeta’s new Super Saiyan God form feels like little more than a stepping stone to get to Super Saiyan Blue, which makes me wish they only had Blue as a new upgrade and left out the red hair we only really see in colored cover art. The idea of Goku Black was fun when it was introduced, but I don’t think series creators Akira Toriyama and Toyotarou did enough with Goku’s possessed body to really sell the gimmick through to its end.
The plot of the four chapters contained in this volume consists almost entirely of Goku and Vegeta’s fight with Zamas and Goku Black. I was excited to see Goku execute his plan for defeating Zamas, but seeing it result in little more than a shrug and a return to regularly scheduled punching was a bit of a letdown. This series capitalized on humor and personality in its preceding volumes, and while there is a joke mixed into Goku’s plan, I was hoping at least one of the two antagonists would be conquered with a bit more style and personality, but Toriyama and Toyotarou have other plans. While Zamas and Goku Black’s attacks have some pizzazz and will make for great anime, the fisticuffs are hard to feel invested in with characters so powerful they make the stakes feel nonexistent.
Even if I had trouble caring about the action on the page, Toyotarou continues to do a great job keeping Toriyama’s vision alive while injecting his own personality into the linework. The dark future setting allows for a lot of scenery to be destroyed in the Saiyans’ fight. Toyotarou is exhaustive in detailing iconic Toriyama-style architecture exploding into smithereens as a blue-haired Saiyan is hurled through it. The fight choreography always comes across clean and very readable and the characters’ emotions express a lot through Toyotarou’s distinct lines that don’t clutter up faces with unneeded detail.
Overall, this was a volume of Dragon Ball Super that looked great but failed to really keep me interested in the action. The new Saiyan forms seem better on paper than in execution and the villain has gone from powerful enough to raise the stakes to so powerful they feel impossible to invest in. The volume also ended on a beat that feels less like a cliffhanger and more like an interruption which left me even more indifferent to it.