Tiger & Bunny
Barnaby Brooks Jr. (Bunny) is the rich kid who got into heroing for the fame, even going so far as to use his real name instead of a super hero nom de plume, at least that’s what we’ve thought for the first two volumes. But as it turns out, he has a past. His parents were murdered, and he believes a secret organization called Ouroboros is responsible. He became a hero because he thought that it would help him track down the killers.
The first episode in volume three of Tiger & Bunny is mostly comedy, and centers on Kotetsu (Tiger) trying to put together a surprise party for Barnaby with the help of the other heroes. But what the episode is really about, is the division between Barnaby and the others. He has no interest in associating with them in any capacity. He’s consumed with his quest for revenge and has started to resent Tiger and all the time he wastes. Barnaby also seems to have tired of Kotetsu’s spirited belief in justice; perhaps because he suffered such a great injustice himself.
The second episode focuses Fire Emblem. He’s the gay superhero and his character design, as you can see, is somewhat… let’s say ‘exploitative.’ But the character himself is portrayed fairly inoffensively. This episode is notable for bringing Barnaby’s secret mission out into the open, and introducing the series’ major antagonist, a NEXT named Lunatic.
One of the things I love about Barnaby’s truth coming out is that it isn’t dragged out or over emphasized. It’s just him, Kotetsu, and Fire Emblem sitting in a room while Barnaby tells them everything. It’s a nice change of pace from shows with mysteries that piece out tiny bits of truth like bread crumbs.
Lunatic is a very powerful NEXT, making him a worthy adversary. What’s interesting about him is that in a series about superheroes, the antagonist isn’t a super-villain, but another hero. Lunatic’s enemy isn’t heroism, it’s the justice system that he feels is coddling criminals. Of course, Lunatic is right that the justice system is faulty, but the problem isn’t the punishments, it’s the fact that it has been turned into entertainment. In the third episode, the heroes are ordered by the Hero TV producer to hold off storming a criminal hide out until they go live on air, a delay which ends up having disastrous results.
Lunatic can be a good foil for Barnaby, who himself is seeking to punish criminals outside of the justice system.
The added depth to Barnaby’s character, and the introduction of a larger story arc and a main nemesis make this the best volume of the series yet.