Spider-Man: The Manga #1
Marvel Comics (December, 1997) I would love to list the original Japanese publisher but I can’t confirm that info even looking through the untranslated manga I ordered because I didn’t know it wasn’t translated. This is from the American style comic translations.
WRITER/ARTIST: Ryoichi Ikegami
TRANSLATION: Mutsumi Masuda & C.B. Cebulski
RETOUCHING/PRODUCTION: Dan Nakrosis
EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
Japanese student Yu Komori is doing some late night experimenting at school when a spider is hit by a massive dose of radioactivity and bits Yu. The young man slowly develops spider-like powers and comes up with an artificial webbing and costume but without an Uncle Ben is unsure what he should do next. Then his pen pal, Rumiko, comes to Tokyo seeking his help in finding her missing brother on the same day Electro, the electric man, robs a bank.
What they got right: Straight up trying to translate US comics to Japanese as a trial run came up goose eggs so they would later try again giving a more Japanese makeover, only without the giant robot and alien invaders seen in their TV series. It was a good idea. This is a more Japanese take on Peter Parker, only Yu Komori isn’t a one-on-one replacement. For example I’m not convinced his experiments were going to go well for the students who look down on him as a “bookworm”. As you saw in this morning’s video post he doesn’t have Peter’s morality, but this is a version of Spider-Man that Japanese readers may be able to relate to, and the section chosen, while not featuring Spider-Man in action, does introduce the four important characters: namely Yu, his aunt, Rumiko, and Electro.
What they got wrong: By this point manga was at least more well known in the US so maybe releasing it in the original volume size rather than typical US comic format might have been a better option. At least you get a decent amount of pages for the book presented, but I know some manga fans will be put off with the flipped pages, left to right instead of right to left. I will defend that as Marvel trying to introduce their regular readers to this take and thus better off being closer to what they expect, but your mileage may vary. (Of course nowadays manga is kicking Marvel’s butt, though that’s a whole other commentary.)
What did I think overall: It’s an interesting take on Spidey’s origins, but we’ll have to see how well it goes in the long term. I get mild horror vibes, given what little I know of Japanese horror manga, but considering Spider-Man made his debut in the last issue of a horror anthology that’s almost fitting. This Spider-Man doesn’t have a giant robot so not as many people know about him but what issues Marvel did translate will be reviewed here for awhile.