I mentioned in the main Manga Discussion thread a few weeks back that perhaps a different, retrospective approach to the manga covering completed plots might be beneficial now, rather than just a cycle of 'hot takes' on developing story increments. So I've put my money where my mouth is, with The Super Re-Read. This is directly modelled on the 'DB Rewatch' threads over in the General Franchise Discussion forum, and aims to do much the same thing, only for the Super manga. If this goes well, I'll aim to continue this with a new thread every fortnight. So hopefully this does well!
This series will aim to run across 4 Chapters of Dragon Ball Super per go, starting with plot summaries and chapter notes of whatever occurs to me (a lot of credit, unsurprisingly, belongs to Kanzenshuu as a resource, particularly in their copious archive of interview translations, which are often linked in the Chapter Notes - Japanese chapter titles and publishing dates are also taken from the website), but more importantly, the aim is getting people here to dust off their Dragon Ball Super manga and have a re-read of the content, and encouraging discussion of how y'all feel about the chapters, both in themselves and in the broader context of Super.
(Note: You don't have to like the Super manga to contribute, but even if you're critical of the work, please contribute constructively and reasonably. If you want to just bash the series and spread negativity, you can do it elsewhere; please don't do it here. Thank you.)
So, without further ado, we start with Chapters 1 to 4, which covers the whole of the 'Battle of Gods' arc, and corresponds to the first 'Super' movie (technically a Z movie, but you know what I mean). At this stage, the Chapters are much shorter than they will eventually become, and the manga's treatment of the material is abridged compared to the other modes in which it appears - but it also has some unique content and emphases of its own, which are pretty cool to see and which set up the manga's own next arc.
(EDIT: Upon reflection, I think it's probably better to do the whole re-read in a single thread, so I'll be doing future updates here too).
Chapter 1 - The God of Destruction’s Prophetic Dream/God of Destruction's Premonition
20 June 2015
- "Time has passed", but I'd be interested in knowing just how much for the Earth-bound parts of this issue, and whether the action is telescoped a bit overall. Yo! Son Goku and Friends Return!, set 2 years after the fight with Buu, has Goku tell Chi Chi that Mr. Satan gave him money to keep quiet, which exchange this issue seems to be depicting.
- Goku's spending his time farming (boring himself on his tractor), but it's clear enough that he's a cash-crop farmer rather than a subsistence farmer - firstly, because there's no way he could actually manage to feed himself at the rate he eats, secondly, because he mentions that his work is to "make money", and finally, in 超 #27, Goku appears to be leaving his produce at market. Perhaps his crops include the 'Thank-Goodness Seed Radishes' that appear in Yo!.
- Everything appears to be made by Capsule Corp - including crappy old tractors, apparently. Bulma will be more generous in giving Goku a top-of-the-line Gull-Wing air car to help with his work in 超 #27.
- Goku trains in SSj and fights against his imagined foes, Freeza and Cell, and sees himself beating them both with relative ease. If Goku's imagination is accurate, this would indicate he's now rather stronger in SSj than Perfect Cell.
- Goku scolding Goten for not doing his job always gives me a chuckle - shades of TFS Goku, almost.
- Goten mentions that even Gyuu Mao is totally broke now, so things have moved on from DB #426, where Chi Chi says that her money from Gyuu Mao was running out by the time of the 25th Budokai, to their logical conclusion.
- Favourite art: Beerus picking dubiously at the food served him by the bug aliens - seems to sum him up in a panel, somehow.
- The bug aliens are so surprised by Beerus accusing them of trying to poison him, that one of them reveals the poison bottle from behind his back in the reaction panel.
- In the Viz manga, there's a panel where they neglect to censor Satan's name on his flying car.
- The interstitial between 超 #1 and #2 touches off a running gag that I always enjoy - "Vegeta impoverishes Bulma/Bulma the Piggy Bank". This time Vegeta refuses Satan's money, but he also does it in the Tournament of Power arc when Bulma ends up agreeing to pay Android #18 and Roshi to enter, and at the end where Android #17 is gifted a huge cruiser, which hugely aggravates Bulma.
18 July 2015
- Beerus mentions that he asked Freeza to destroy the planet Vegeta - so, Freeza's motivations for eradicating the Saiyans to date include the rise in power of a number of Saiyans (DB #257), a potential union of Saiyans against him (DB #257 and #262), the premonition of the rise of a powerful Saiyan, even a Super Saiyan (DB #262 and DBminus) or the Super Saiyan God (DBminus), and now Beerus's own instructions to destroy the planet. By this point, you feel he'd've been stupid not to do it...
- Beerus remembers wiping out the dinosaurs on Earth for their rudeness - obviously, it's a gag, but Dragon World still has dinosaurs on Earth in the present Age (see, e.g., DB #207 and #209).
- It shocks Beerus that anyone could beat Freeza, which interests him - another confirmation, if any were needed, of how far above the rest of the mortal realm Freeza was, even nowadays (with the exception of the threats that show up specifically on Earth from time to time) - compare that with DB #445, where Freeza is likewise the measuring stick.
- We get our first look at Beerus's planet - pyramid-shaped, and dominated by one huge tree. Presumably, given Beerus's connection to Kaioshin (超 #15), it is in the same realm as the world of the Kaioshins (though it could be in the afterlife, like Kaio's). The Egyptian-influenced visual theme for Gods of Destruction will reappear throughout the rest of the series, as other Gods of Destruction emerge.
- Goku is back on Kaio's world - restored as of 超 Bonus Comic #1 (see below) - though Bubbles and Kaio remain dead. Apparently, Kaio's continued state of death has done nothing to affect his position, despite the information given by Toriyama in the Super Exciting Guide (Character Volume) that says following death of the incumbent, a new Kaio is chosen by lottery from other Shin-jin.
- Kaio describes Beerus as a God of "Chaos", and the Elder Kaioshin will assume that Champa wants Dragon Balls for some malign purpose in 超 #3, but Toriyama has already given a fuller and more nuanced description of the respective roles of the Kaioshin and Gods of Destruction in Chozenshuu 1. Beerus will likewise claim in 超 #15 that he acts with a view to the cosmic balance (accurately, but still a little dubiously, given his personal M.O. - Whis does laugh at him for saying it, after all).
- Beerus notes that all Saiyans have black hair - established by Vegeta in DB #333, as a reason why Trunks can't be a Saiyan.
- Goku moves up through the SSj gears against Beerus, showing SSj, SSj2, and SSj3 - he did this last to buy time against Buu in DB #474, and he'll next do it in 超 #29, to satisfy the Zeno twins. It's not typical for him to do this just as part of an evolving fight, though sometimes he will transform into selected lower forms as an initial test of strength (before escalating to an appropriate form), to buy time, or for specific advantages. Beerus seems to notice the difference between SSj and SSj2, though - it becomes a bit of a gag that Zeno can't tell the difference between Goku's SSj and SSj2 in 超 #29, directly referencing Babidi's comment.
- We get the first mention here that only Gods can sense the ki of other Gods - confirmed again by Piccolo in 超 #4, and various other characters after this.
- Champa mentions that Beerus is "already awake", maybe implying that at least some of his actions in Universe 7 were undertaken while Beerus was still asleep. He will later state that he's been collecting them for decades, so given Beerus's tendencies (and the movie line that he'd been sleeping for 39 years - "barely a cat-nap"), this would fit.
- Favourite art: SSj3 Goku vs. Beerus - punching a hole through a planet is a new one, and the panels really show the difference in power between Beerus and Goku - I'm particularly fond of the panel where Goku tumbles after Beerus flicks him - that one's very dynamic.
- SSj3 Goku blasts a hole clean through Kaio's planet before Beerus beats him, which is not the first time Kaio's had his planet damaged through Beerus's presence - Toriyama notes in a Q&A for the Full-Colour release that the planet is really a fragment of Kaio's original planet, which Beerus destroyed after losing a game.
21 August 2015
- The ocean liner where Bulma's birthday party is taking place is named the "Princess Bul(u)ma".
- Even Bee the dog is present here, and seems as shocked as the Humans at how Buu is overpowered by Beerus, which is pretty funny.
- Vegeta's bingo dance doesn't make it into the main material, but the interstitials before and after this issue show him practicing it, and then miffed that he didn't get to do it. I think this is a nice touch, as fans tend to regard his willingness to abase himself like this for the sake of his friends and family to be a major character development - it's good that it's referenced.
- In Vegeta's flashback, we get one of our few manga views of Planet Vegeta (last seen in DBminus), and our first of King Vegeta (King Vegeta III, as Vegeta is designated as "Vegeta IV" by the Galactic King in 超 #43). He seems to be modelled generally on his classic anime depiction; he'll look slightly different in Dragon Ball Super: Broly. He's not in his most dignified mode here, I guess.
- Beerus figures he'll have to destroy Planet Vegeta eventually, since the Saiyans are "out of control"; this is probably the first manga indication that the Gods of Destruction have a legitimate role in the cosmic balance - as we've seen, though, Beerus will end up delegating it to Freeza.
- This issue continues a theme of Vegeta's deepening bond with Bulma - that they have a connection appropriately described as "love" isn't addressed till DB #462, but becomes a feature of the Buu arc at various points. It's development will be continued in the series with (openly) mutually-expressed possessiveness (超 #3, #6, #46), a growing attachment of Vegeta to Bulma and their shared life (particularly 超 #27), and an increase in tenderness generally (超 #26). Toriyama notes that Saiyans don't generally bond romantically or have much notion of family, and also that his relationship with Bulma, started by his wounded pride, changed Vegeta bit by bit. To be sure, the development of the relationship in Super represents a complete change from Vegeta's expressed attitude in, say, DB #347.
- In this instance, Vegeta gets a massive rage boost - with the important exception of SSj transformations, rage boosts per se don't happen for Vegeta up to this point; they're really more part of Gohan's power profile rather than that of any other main character. But this establishes rage as one of the features of Vegeta's path to power, and will come again in 超 #40, when he gets SSjBe.
- Favourite art: Vegeta's flurry against Beerus - a real sense of motion and power here, enhanced by some cool water effects. We've seen battles over and under water in Dragon Ball before, but I don't think the manga has shown us one that skims over its surface.
- The Elder Kaioshin says "There's no way [Champa] will use [the Dragon Balls] for good", implying that Champa is a malign presence, as such, rather than part of the Universal order (it isn't explicitly stated yet that Champa is a God of Destruction, but the visual similarities with Beerus should probably clue the reader in). The Elder clearly speaks as if he knows Champa personally, but perhaps his perspective is a little skewed when it comes to Gods of Destruction just as a Kaioshin, or even on a personal level, since Toriyama has stated that Beerus sealed him in the Z-Sword after a spat way back when (thus also casting doubt on his claim that "a bad guy" sealed him away "because he was scared of me", in DB #479)...
19 September 2015
- The food stalls in the background on the ocean liner get a couple more additions - in all, we see stalls for 'Takoyaki', 'Sushi', 'Ramen', 'Okonomiyaki' (Videl's fave, according to the Super Exciting Guide), and 'Western Things'.
- Whatever time we may place parts of Issue 1, Videl's pregnancy fixes the date for 超 #2 - #4 at no earlier than 4-and-a-bit years after the fight with Buu (assuming Pan is close to turning 5 years old at the 28th Budokai, which is 10 years after the fight with Buu - there isn't any wiggle room for the overall gap here, either, as Uub is stated to be 10 at the Budokai.
- Of course, I've always regarded this particular incident as (retrospectively) the time Goku refers to in DB #518, when Goku says he visited Bulma "five years ago". Of course, by this reckoning Goku will have visited a number of times since then as well, though most times this would've been 'on business' (e.g., getting a new Dragon Radar, training with Vegeta, etc.).
- This is the first manga evidence (besides the Revival of F promo manga, which was released first) that establishes that Gohan is still at least able to activate the SSj transformation since he received his power-up from the Elder Kaioshin.
- Despite the high-impact nature of the fight, the God of Destruction manages to destroy surprisingly little - despite the fact that the fight goes straight through a city, just like in the movie, it leaves it completely pristine.
- Unlike the movie, Goku doesn't absorb the power of SSjG into his own, and despite Toriyama's comments on this score, SSjG will be added to the roster of Goku's accessible transformations on top of the standard SSj ones he can already access, and it shows up in every manga arc from this point (超 #13, #22, #29, and #51 for Goku alone, besides a number of appearances where Vegeta also uses it). As the manga has had 2 years to reflect on what the movie shows us (and even some months after Revival of F, so it can factor that in), it may be that the manga is already travelling in this direction - Goku will next demonstrate SSjG in 超 #13, published 21 June 2016, which I think is rather earlier than the anime, which relies on SSjB for much of the time.
- 超 #3 already had Champa address the Kaioshins as belonging to Universe 7, but Beerus spells out that there are 12 Universes (and Whis will deepen this in forthcoming issues).
- Favourite art: The final clash up in the Stratosphere, particularly the panel of SSjG Goku unleashing his Kamehameha.
- Of course, we see the link with Revival of F in seeing the travails of Freeza's ailing army - we got Avo and Cado in Yo!, we see Garana (RIP), Tagoma (also RIP), Shisami (though he isn't named here - also also RIP) and Sorbet (also also also RIP) here, and Tagoma, Shisami and Sorbet all appeared in the promo manga as well. Garana is described as the 'second strongest' - presumably Tagoma, "on par with Zarbon and Dodoria" is the strongest until Freeza offs him (or else maybe Shisami, who likewise has this description applied in the movie - he is not named or made much of in any of his manga appearances).
- This issue seems to me to re-establish (and take to the next level) the classic Dragon Ball theme of "No matter how strong you are, there's always someone stronger". Goku obtains a whole new level of power, and despite this, fails to win, and then learns that this is just the beginning. This type of world expansion completely upturns the picture Goku has of his power as of the Buu arc, where he's way stronger than everyone else, whether alive or dead (until Buu eats himself, which touches off a new escalation). Dragon Ball Super takes this to heart as its most abiding theme to date (arguably even more than Dragon Ball did), as Goku effectively spends much of his time losing his way to victory. It's great to see in its faithfulness to this theme, and it's good that so far the series is holding its nerve in this regard. When it stops doing that, it's time for the series to end - so, long may it continue.
18 July 2015
- I get that this is a gag bonus comic, but it seems Porunga can understand English for the lulz, when he wants to shaft Kaio. What a jerk.
- Again, getting that this is a gag, but there seems to be a tendency in modern Dragon Ball to forget that both dragons should have multiple wishes, as Porunga pops off after a single wish; Shenron does the same in Battle of Gods (though arguably, he just wants to get away from Beerus), and after 2 wishes in the Revival of F movie (he just gives one again in the manga) - maybe this is an indicator of how soon after Battle of Gods this is, since the Dragon Balls can be restored after 4 months if not all of the wishes are used, which would place Revival of F about 8-10 months after Battle of Gods (in the movie, Piccolo estimates Freeza's arrival at around 6 months after his revival) - but it may have just been forgotten that Shenron should still have 3. The anime doubles down on this in one episode by having everyone fight over Shenron's one wish, and he likewise has one wish again in Dragon Ball Super: Broly. Fortunately, the Moro arc is in line with the 'non-gag' continuity by at least having Porunga grant 3 wishes in 超 #48.