One of the most popular tropes in superhero comics is seeing the heroes fight each other. We want to know what would happen if Superman fought Batman, or who would come out on top if Captain America went toe-to-toe with Iron Man. These fights are usually based on contrivances or convenient misunderstandings, but Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia has the prefect excuse built right in: training.
As popular as hero vs. hero stories are in comics, tournament arcs are even more popular in manga, so the superhero vs. superhero tournament training arc is another example of how well My Hero Academia blends manga and superhero comics to produce one of the most fun, exciting superhero books since Chris Claremont was writing Uncanny X-Men.
The cool thing about these arcs is that they introduce a bunch of new characters and give a spotlight to lesser-used characters. There are more superheroes in this volume than there were in Avengers: Endgame and we get to see fan favorite supporting characters like Shoto Todoroki and Momo Yaoyorozu really strut their stuff.
The star of this volume, however, is Katsuki Bakugo. Bakugo might be the most interesting character in this series — early on, you would almost peg him as a villain and a bully, but his growth through the series has been amazing. Not only is Bakugo now clearly a hero (okay, maybe a bit of an anti-hero) but the core of his character never changed, just grew and matured the way you’d expect a high school student might as they grow up.
Bakugo is reminiscent of characters like Vegeta and Wolverine while Midoriya is more like Superman or Goku, and the fact that Bakugo had been the golden boy of their class growing up adds an interesting twist to their dynamic.
More than he had in any previous volume, Bakugo proves here that he’s more of a hero than anyone realized. While his cocky and gruff exterior isn’t exactly an act, he has depth beyond that and in this volume he shows a quality we haven’t really seen from him before: leadership.
Midoriya is pretty much in the background of this volume until the last few chapters when his team finally takes the field. But that’s mostly set-up for the next volume.
All and all, this is a great volume of My Hero Academia. Tournament arcs are usually a lot of fun, and when you add actual character growth into the mix you see exactly why this is such a popular book.