Kohei Horikoshi's My Hero Academia is no stranger to shoutouts to outside superhero series and franchises, but its spin-off manga My Hero Academia: Vigilantes goes the extra mile with even more blantant pop culture references.
How blatant? Well, the latest chapter of the series totally just introduced an evil Thomas the Tank Engine as one of the series' villains.
Chapter 44 of My Hero Academia: Vigilantes starts off with a hilarious bang as Koichi quickly came face to face with a charging villain. It chases Koichi through the streets (as Koichi makes hilarious train puns like "Got a villain's off the rails here!"), and when fans get a closer look at this train villain, it's a dead ringer for the various characters in the Thomas the Tank Engine universe.
With a large, contorting face and saying only "Toot Toot!" this villain is dispatching as quickly as it arrives, but was around long enough to make a huge impression on fans. Vigilantes has seen huge references to franchises like X-Men, Kamen Rider, Dragon Ball, and that's only recent chapters. It's a series filled to the brim with them, and is undoubtedly having fun with the idea of wild hero characters that Horikoshi can only tease in the original My Hero Academia.
My Hero Academia: Vigilantes is a spin-off series based on original concepts from Kohei Horikoshi's My Hero Academia. It's written by Hideyuki Furuhashi and illustrated by Betten Court and is based on original concepts by My Hero Academia series creator Kohei Horikoshi. You can currently read some chapters of the series at Viz Media for free (and the entire back catalog with a Shonen Jump subscription), and new volumes of the series are released every four months or so.
My Hero Academia: Vigilantes is officially described as such:
"My Hero Academia: Vigilantes is set in a superpowered society, where there is nothing ordinary about evil anymore. Heroes, trained and licensed to protect and defend the public against supervillains, stand above all the rest. Not everyone can be a hero, however, and there are those who would use their powers to serve the people without legal sanction. But do they fight for justice in the shadows, or for reasons known only to themselves? Whatever they fight for, they are called... vigilantes."