Warning: SPOILERS for One-Punch Man chapter #173The manga is definitively moving away from , and it's the best thing that could happen to the series. The most recent chapters of the manga prove that the story is taking a whole new direction, focusing on characters and plot threads that the webcomic only barely sketched out, including the mysterious villain known as God.
began as a webcomic created and self-published by mangaka ONE. Later, after the webcomic went through a long hiatus due to the author's personal issues, it attracted the attention of accomplished artist Yusuke Murata, who helped turn it into a successful digital manga published by Shueisha. While , in recent times it has started moving in a different direction, especially during the epic battle between Saitama and Garou, which developed in a really different way.
Chapter #173 confirms this trend, as it shifts the focus of the story towards the sinister and enigmatic creature called God, who is clearly shaping up to be the overarching villain of the series. In the chapter, one of the executives of the Hero Association, Sitch, reveals to a group of selected heroes , the S-Class Rank 1 hero who has been fighting a secret war against that creature for twenty years. Meanwhile, Genos also discloses to the present the real power of his self-appointed sensei, Saitama, and the fact that he has rewritten time itself during the battle against Garou. None of this happened in the webcomic.
The weight of the revelations concerning God and Blast is proof that the manga is moving in a bold, new direction. In the webcomic, Blast never appeared in person, and God only did it briefly. While , the manga is revealing more and more about the villain, including his connection with Blast, which will give this mysterious character a very important role in the future of the series. Also, ONE is unlikely to keep working on the webcomic. The author is busy with the digital manga and he also dedicated himself to other projects, such as and a recently announced . In light of that, it's good for the manga to avoid some of the story arcs, such as the Neo Heroes Saga, that the author could never complete.
It's important to remember, however, that ONE is still writing the manga's story, even if Murata has a lot of freedom and contributes to the plot too. This means that the new direction taken by the manga is not a betrayal of the original story, but rather ONE's true and updated vision for his creation. By deciding to focus on God, Blast, and on building an overarching plot for the series, has definitively moved away from the webcomic, and it's the best thing that could happen to the series.