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Manga Spider-Man

manga spiderman 1 (marvel)


In the late 1970s, Marvel Comics attempted to break into the lucrative Japanese manga market. They started by reprinting translated versions of early Spider-man stories in a Japanese publication, but the public response was not favorable. A second attempt was made with the same title and underlying premise, but the main character would be Japanese and the stories would be set in Japan. The series was written and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami.

Yu Komori is a studious, unassuming young man whose biggest concerns are getting good grades and writing with his pen-pal Rumiko (Rumi). Late one evening, Yu is running through a series of experiments he things may be on his exams the next day. A spider passes through a piece of radioactive equipment and bites him on the hand. Yu doesn't feel well for the rest of the evening and through the exam the next day. Leaving the exam early, he stumbles through the streets as he makes his way home. He bumps into a man who retaliates by throwing a punch at Yu. He dodges the punch and throws one of his own which misses the mark, but connects with a steel beam. The metal bends and causes other beams being lifted to plunge down towards him. Instinctively, he jumps out of the way and finds himself clinging high up on the side of a building. Over the next few weeks, he researches spiders and is able to create a version of their spider webs. He sews together a costume and the Spider-man is born.

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Yu receives a letter from Rumi indicating that she will in town to visit. On his way to meet her, he learns about a nearby bank robbery by a villian named Electro (who has the power to control electricity). When me meets up with Rumi, she enlists his help to find her brother who has gone missing. Everywhere they look is a dead end. Nobody knows where her brother is now. She is trying to find him to help pay for an operation for her mother. Seeing a reward for the capture of Electro, Yu uses his new-found powers to put an end to Electro's crime spree. As they battle, Electro is thrown against an electrical generator which overloads his suits and gives him a fatal jolt. As he lay dying, Yu unmasks Electro and sees that it is Rumi's brother. Yu gives the reward money to Runi, but she blames Spider-man for his brother's death. Yu can never tell her his secret. For readers of the American Spider-man comic, this storyline is similar to the one between Peter Parker and Betty Brant. Betty's brother is not Electro, but he had gotten killed in the crossfire in a gangster's office as Spider-man comes to rescue Betty. She blames the Spider-man for her brother's death and it ultimately stands between them and prevents their relationship from being anything but friends.

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The second villian Yu meets is the Lizard. The Lizard has been attacking the factories of Koda Pharmaceuticals, trying to stop the manufacturing of a new miracle medicine. Yu's friend, Araki (son of the chief chemist for Koda Pharmaceuticals), is kidnapped by the Lizard. This brings the Spider-man into the search. He agrees to accompany Araki's father to deliver the ransom. At the drop-off point, it is revealed that the Lizard was the former partner of Araki's father and was left for dead when Araki's father tried to kill him to profit from the secrets of the new remedy. In the battle to free Araki, the Lizard is killed in an alligator pit he had set up to dispose of Araki.

The third villian is the Kangaroo, a wrestler who has gone on a deadly rampage. Spiderman tries to intervene, but the Kangaroo escapes. Considerable damage is left behind and Spider-man is branded as a public menace. The local papers are clamoring for pictures of the next fight between Spider-man and the Kangaroo, so Yu approaches a local paper for a photographer's job. The Kangaroo steals a vial of a deadly bacteria which causes mass public panic. Spider-man tracks down the Kangaroo, subdues him, and retrieves the vial. Fearing he may actually be the threat portrayed in the papers, Yu throws his Spider-man costume into the river, determined to never be Spider-man again.

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In the weeks that follow, reports continue to surface about criminal acts the Spider-man is following, but it is not Yu behind the mask. Someone must have retrieved the costume and is using it to commit these crimes. No longer wanting to be Spider-man, Yu does nothing. Rumi comes back to town for consolation. Her mother has not survived her illness. On their way back from an amusement park, Rumi and Yu are separated. Worried about her safety, Yu finally manages to find her the next day. As they talk, the fake Spider-man swoops down and snatches Rumi's purse. Yu finally puts on a spare costume and starts his search for the fake Spider-man. At the same time, a character known as Mysterio emerges in the newspapers - a champion to rid Tokyo of the menage of Spider-man. Realizing that Mysterio is probably behind the attacks, he eventually tracks him down and prove his innocence.

This next story arc begins with Yu witnessing an attack on a woman. Not having enough time to change into his costume, he jumps in and fights off the attackers. Unfortunately for him, the woman thinks that he was part of the group and he is blamed for the attack. crying freeman vol 1Yu recognizes the leader of the gang that attacked the woman - Mikawa, captain of his school's kendo team. Trying to get close to Mikawa and clear his name, Yu joins the kendo team. Hoping to lure Mikawa into making a mistake, Yu quickly demonstrates superior skill and challenges Mikawa's role as captain. On his way home from practice one night, Yu is picked up by the brother of the woman that was attacked and Yu, himself, is attacked. The following night, Yu and Araki follow Mikawa and his gang into the woods where the gang waits for their next victim. Making Araki hide, Yu confronts the gang and subdues them. The truth about the attack comes out and Araki vows to tell the police and clear Yu's name.

In the following story arcs:

  • Yu is on vacation with his friends when they are taken hostage by an American soldier who is having delusions
  • Yu encounters an abused woman who is able to control the weather and unconsciously freezes all those who attempt to do harm to her. The story ends with her leaping to her death.
  • Yu is a blood-donor to an accident victim who gets his powers. Unlike Yu, he uses the powers for gain. His reign of terror comes to an end when the powers he absorbed run out and he falls to his death.
  • In the final translated story, Yu follows a sad little girl who he has a hunch about. The little girl is abducted and Yu is taken because he is a witness to the crime.

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This marks the end of the series translation. The translation of that final story arc was never finished as Marvel cancelled the series with issue #31.

As mentioned earlier, the translated American comic was not very popular in Japan. Likewise, the translated Japanese manga series was not very popular in the states. They Japanese audience did not like the fast-pacing of the American comic while the American audience didn't like the slow pace. The 31 issues of the series translated the first two volumes of the Japanese comic, leaving much left untranslated.


All images contained within these pages are copyright © Ryoichi Ikegami and associated publishers.
All text contained within these pages is copyright © Darren T. Andrews, unless otherwise indicated.