The following recap contains spoilers for Chapter 1039 of the One Piece manga. You can check out the latest chapters in English via Viz Media.
It’s been almost 14 years since the introduction of Eustass Kid and Trafalgar D. Law as among the Supernovas, two “top” rookie pirates who could stand alongside Luffy against a Pacifista. The Sabaody arc was oh so long ago, of course, and just look where we are now. In Chapter 1039, titled “Top Billing,” all indications point to Kid and Law doing what was once unthinkable for many One Piece fans. It looks like they’ve actually toppled one of the Four Emperors.
Yes, a pirate from the “Worst Generation” has managed this before, when Blackbeard technically brought down Whitebeard during the Marineford arc. The big difference is that Blackbeard was only able to do so after Whitebeard had sustained massive damage during the Summit War and was also tremendously weakened from his illness.
This fight is absolutely a different story. Law and Kid measured up against Big Mom, granted in a 2v1 matchup, gave it their all, and received it just as much. This will likely go down as a monumental chapter in One Piece, the first domino to fall in the eventual “breaking” of the Four Emperor system (as I maintain that after Wano, Blackbeard will either bring down Shanks or have him in captivity).
Unlike last week’s rotation around Onigashima, we got a far more focused page-by-page battle between the Supernovas and Big Mom. But there is one quick, but potentially massive check-in that we should address first, since it appears on the first page of the chapter.
MOMO’S HEARING THINGS
As Chapter 1039 kicks off, we drop in on Momo’s efforts to use his “dragon clouds” as a way to pull Onigashima away from the Flower Capital, hopefully ensuring that it won’t plummet to kill the citizens there. And it’s working! Momo hasn’t just slowed down the floating island, he’s managed to pull it backward, away from the city. I do think we’ll soon see Momo’s heroic moment, when the citizens of the Flower Capital look up to their floating lights and see an unfamiliar dragon trying to save them. Or they’ll just think it’s Kaidou, who knows?
But before we head to the big fight, Momo remarks that someone is “calling out” to him. That someone is almost certainly Zunesha, as the manga already established a couple of chapters ago that everyone’s favorite eyeless animal island recently arrived outside of Wano, right by the World Government’s fleet.
I mentioned in my last recap that I could see Zunesha using their trunk to douse the flames of Onigashima, but then I had to reconsider since, well, the island is nowhere near the ocean at this point, right? But after reading this chapter and remembering Momo’s prior connection to Zunesha, I think it might make sense for this to tie into Wano literally “opening up its borders.”
Zunesha can only “do” something when ordered by the right person, and in this case that’s Momo. Since Wano’s borders are mostly inaccessible due to the powerful currents blocking safe passage, it’s certainly reasonable to assume that Zunesha has the ability to change this upon Momo’s command. I hadn’t considered this before, and if I had, I probably would’ve expected this to happen after the raid. But perhaps Oda wants to time this symbolic, cathartic moment with Momo’s expected triumph in saving the Flower Capital.
THE NEXT BEST GENERATION
After just two panels, we jump right back to the ongoing fight between Kid, Law, and Big Mom. Kid’s massive bull attack has knocked Big Mom off her feet, giving them a chance to regroup and make a plan for “round 2.” Last week, I wavered between this fight being conclusive or just a stalling tactic (“we won’t let you get to the roof,” to paraphrase). But the “vs” titling certainly pushed me into believing that this fight would reach its climax and endgame quite soon, and this is where it starts.
Oda has a bit of fun with Law and Kid bickering about who will ultimately get the most credit for this fight, as Law bemoans Kid for coming in with a “big fancy attack” right after his Shock Wille. They honestly remind me of how One Piece fans playfully bicker about the lore and power rankings. Though Kid is unexpectedly the mature one in this argument at first, telling Law “Who cares about that right now?” in response to his ego being bruised.
Though I do get it from Law’s perspective. His internal attacks on Big Mom have been the deciding factor for this fight. Without them, there’s no way “Iron Balloon” Big Mom would be weakened enough for Kid’s physical attacks to make a difference like they have been (Kid even admits this to an extent in the next panel). The truth of it is that both pirates need each other but are hesitant to admit it because glory and bounties mean everything in the New World. So it’s fun to see them knock each other down a peg, with Law teasing Kid about his attacks being seemingly arbitrary in how they’re constructed as animals and Kid getting annoyed at Law trying to figure him out.
Big Mom has clearly suffered a lot of damage and remarks that her arm and ribs have been broken. But her Devil Fruit powers are also broken. We see her use her own lifespan to heal her bones up, restoring some of her health (clearly not all, but enough to make a difference).
Upon seeing this, Law admits that joking aside, this will be it for him. If they can’t stop Big Mom with this next round of attacks, he’s officially down for the count. It makes sense since we know that using Awakened Devil Fruit abilities takes a lot out of a person. I’ve noticed some fans being confused about why Law didn’t use these sorts of attacks against Doflamingo, since that fight was canonically a month or so ago. Though it’s not explicitly stated, it seems to me that Law simply didn’t have enough Haki and stamina to use his Awakened abilities without passing out immediately.
And One Piece seems to go by Dragonball Z rules, in that a fighter experiencing near-death (like Law did) recovers with a huge power boost of some kind. We’ve seen it happen with every arc of One Piece, where the Straw Hats grow in ability through experience and adventure like a role-playing game, even when not really pushed to their limits. But even more-so when they are.
Back to Big Mom, she unleashes her next and possibly most powerful weapon, the “Maser Saber,” which appears to be a combination of Prometheus, Napoleon, and Hera’s Homie powers all combined into a single, sword-like weapon that is just oozing energy. She severs Kid’s mechanical bull in a single strike and taunts them as brats, thematically setting up her eventual downfall.
“We’ve sunk hundreds of people just like you into the sea!! We’ve been reigning as emperors for decades, since the days before you were weaned off your mothers’ milk!!!” This is clearly Oda alluding to what can possibly end the reign of the emperors. Their complacency. They’ve been effectively unchallenged for a long time, simply due to their overwhelming power, and instead of growing even more powerful, they’ve grown their pirate crews. Kaidou by trying to manufacture devil fruits and Big Mom by having more and more children and races under her empire.
So it was only a matter of time for pirates to exploit this growing overconfidence, and here we are. While spouting off, Kid uses this opportunity to use his “Assign” move on Big Mom, putting an “S” on her forehead and an “N” on a tower behind her. So remember, magnets. If the “S” is an artificial “South Pole,” then it will be drawn to a “North Pole,” thus ramming Big Mom against the tower and somewhat immobilizing her. As Law tries to impale her, she uses her incredible to strength to swing around and shield herself with the actual tower.
MISERY LOVES COMPANY
In a dreadful counterattack, Big Mom uses a move called “Mother’s Visit Cannon: 3,000 Leagues of Misery” (a reference to a 70s anime Oda probably watched as a kid), in which a transformed Hera appears out of the Maser Saber and brings a massive hand of, indeed, misery upon Kid, though he probably dodged it, since in the next panel, the attack continues to move, chasing him. We don’t really see it clearly, but Big Mom says as much.
Before the attack can finish them off, however, Law drops another tower on Big Mom, effectively utilizing their numerical advantage. Big Mom still has a lot of strength left, but not enough to quickly deal with both pirates at once, allowing Law to continue his sneak attacks. That’s when Law goes in for his last move, and it’s a big one.
Law uses Kroom again, passing his sword through Room so he can enlarge and extend it. This time, however, he comes right up on Big Mom and sends the sword through her stomach. It pierces her body and goes all the way down Onigashima, through the island’s foundation, and all the way down to Wano’s surface. We even see the sword narrowly miss Yamato and Kazenbo in the armory (good thing it didn’t hit the explosives). We even get a glimpse of Momo still trying to pull the island away.
SHOCK AND AWE
It’s an incredible moment in the chapter, though also a confusing one. Why would Law need to extend it so far past Big Mom’s body? Well, we sort of get our answer, vaguely, as Law remarks that he has to go deeper into the earth before he can use his finishing move. Maybe because the longer the sword is, the more powerful the attack. Or perhaps the shock will be more effective if the sword is in contact is more firmly planted. It’s really hard to say.
Big Mom starts pummeling Law with armament Haki, since she apparently dropped her Maser Saber, but Law astoundingly endures and unleashes “Puncture Wille.” It’s really quite something to see Big Mom say, moments before the attack, “No, don’t” with so much desperation on her face. This really is an emperor on the absolute brink.
The attack leaves a massive crater on Wano, and in the next panel, we seem to see Law’s sword returning to its form, thus making the island “free” again. Momo sees the “giant hole” and has no idea what’s going on, clearly. It looks like Big Mom is down for the count, as she rolls over and again spews blood from her mouth like she did after Shock Wille in the last chapter. But “Misery” is still on the loose and about to kill Law.
END OF AN ERA
Above Big Mom and Law, Kid appears in the sky with yet another scrap metal concoction, but this one hits different. Law tells Kid to “do it” and Kid fittingly yells at him for giving him orders, right before setting his railgun-looking weapon at Big Mom, who looks truly horrified at what’s about to happen.
But she is still Big Mom. Looking this weapon in the face, she says, “You think you can beat me? I’m Big Mom!” She’s unwilling to accept that the world is about to change. That she can’t simply win because she’s Big Mom and they’re a couple of rookie pirates. An emperor who maybe once believed in the impossible eventually lost sight of it due to her own greed and arrogant view of power and authority. It’s what makes the name of the next move all the more fitting.
Kid remarks that her being Big Mom is exactly why they have to “get rid of her.” He fires a blast called “Damned Punk,” the ultimate image of two rebellious youths taking out an evil authority figure. It instantly reminded me of one of the first battles in One Piece, when Luffy, a new pirate just days into his first adventure, took down a ruthless, cocky pirate named Alvida who was much older and more experienced and unable to see her defeat coming.
Big Mom’s eyes white out, and Law declares, “Your era is over!!!” Previous chapters have made it clear that we should expect an official declaration next week that Kid and Law are the winners. One emperor down, one more to go.
GRAND FLEETING THOUGHTS
- No break next week! Been a while since we had three chapters in a row, and I’m ecstatic.
- Also, no cover story this week, but we do get a beautiful color spread that probably has a dozen Easter eggs we won’t be able to decipher until a decade from now. So that’s always fun.
- With Big Mom defeated, I think it’s clear enough at this point that the raid will end in 2022. Perhaps the main Wano arc, though we can probably expect a semi-lengthy “Post-Wano” arc. This is the longest arc ever in the manga, after all.
- I’m pretty curious to see how this fight will be perceived by the world after Wano. Who gets “Top Billing,” Law or Kid? Or do they both get equal credit? It’s easy to argue that Law deserves a little more credit for this win, but he couldn’t have done it without Kid. Really, Law isn’t much of a combatant in this world, he’s a tactician. He’s this manga’s Shikamaru, someone who shines best when supporting a brawler. He knows this, hence he allied with Luffy in the first place, but I guess it’s odd to see him here caring so much about credit, like he’s insecure about his position as a powerful pirate.
- Speaking of which, I’m so excited to see Law, Kid, and Luffy leave this arc as three world powers and rivals again. There will be a lot said of how Kid and Law in particular were able to “power up” so much they could best a Yonko, but I’ll leave that meaty analysis for the YouTubers.