Konbonwa everyone. After a long wait, we have finally hit the end of this train ride of Spider-Man in Japan. We’ve seen a television series that had him piloting a giant mech, a series that left us asking “What the heck does the J stand for?” We even had a series that seemed like it was more horror then what our favorite web-slinger deserved. So where does that leave us? Well lets take a look at something that in itself is not Japanese, but inspired by it. Let’s take a look at the Marvel Mangaverse.
Marvel Mangaverse was an imprint put out by Marvel in 2000. It was meant to be an homage to the graphic novels of the east. Let me get this out of the way. It did NOT succeed in this. Their method of doing so was to jam as many tropes from manga and anime into the various series as possible. Honor bound warrior loyal to his “lord” to a fault? Check. Giant mechs piloted by more techno jargon then should be allowed by law? Check. The punisher was a Japanese school mistress that dressed as a geisha and used a riding crop and (I shit you not) a feather to “punish” people. They had one series that DID accomplish what seemed like an homage to the style that they were emulating, and that’s the one that we are here to look at today.
Well, okay series is not an accurate term. See, Spider-Man’s entries in the Mangaverse were more spread out. It was one singular issue, a five issue mini series, and a chapter in an issue of Spider-Man Family. He was also a main character in the New Mangaverse: The Rings of Fate mini series. So lets begin again by looking at our main characters.
First we have Peter Parker.
Peter Parker is a member of the Spider-Clan of Ninjas. He was trained by his sensei and uncle, Ben. One night, when he is returning home to the dojo for training, he finds his uncle killed by a former member of the the clan, Venom. In this universe almost all of Spider-Man’s abilities can be chalked up to ninja training. His agility and strength are from the various martial arts he knows. His spider-sense is from a real world analogue referred to as “No Mind”, While in the comic it refers to “Focus on nothing, and you will see everything” in the real world it just means to act without thinking. Letting your instincts take over. Anyway, his ability to crawl walls is from a claw like device that he wears on the palm of his hands called shuko claws. The only one of his abilities that is not from his ninja training is his ability to shoot webs. Originally he used rope and spider shaped grappling devices to swing around. However recently he somehow managed to shoot organic webbing from his wrists. He is unaware of how he does this.
So what is Spider-Man without a love interest? Lets look at Mary Jane.
Mary Jane is a recent edition to the Spider-Clan, having been brought in and trained by her boyfriend, Peter Parker. She has all of the same abilities as Peter except for the web shooting. She still uses the spider shaped grappling hooks. Also it seems that she is an incredibly quick learner, as while in her short time in the clan, she has learned enough to be on par with Peter’s skills.
Next we take a look at this Spider-Man’s greatest adversary, Venom.
Venom is a former member of the Spider-Clan. He left the clan in pursuit of a dark power. In search of this power he joined with the Shadow Clan of ninja, a dark reflection of his former clan. However this wasn’t enough and he eventually parted ways with them as well. At some point, he came to lead the Kuji Kuri Syndicate, a mercenary group that is comprised of “ninja” versions of Spider-Man’s regular rogues gallery. I put ninja in quotes because, well, how can there be a ninja Rhino? I mean really? Any who, at some point Venom returned to his former clan to dispatch his former mentor and step-father, Ben Parker. Yep, in this world Spider-Man and Venom are cousins.
Speaking of Uncle Ben, lets look at his wife.
Aunt May in this reality is a lot like her 616 counterpart. She is Peter’s doting aunt, who always worries about him. She is also Uncle Ben’s widow. However she has some key differences. For instance in this reality Aunt May is the mother of Venom, however not with Uncle Ben. She is also one of the two initial surviving members f the Spider Clan. That’s where things get kind of interesting. See in this reality Aunt May is… Well she is kind of a trained ninja assassin. She is also aware that Peter is Spider-Man. Mainly because Spider-Man uses the techniques of the Spider Clan and her and Peter are the only two remaining members.
Mangaverse Spider-Man had really two major stories to him though. One was his desire for revenge against Venom. A desire that blinded him to the actions of his friends father and allowed him to be manipulated by the Shadow Clan. The other story saw him becoming a founding member of the Avengers as so many heroes were hunted down and killed.
If you are a fan of Japanese manga and are amused by the tropes of the genre, I advice looking up Mangaverse Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Legend of the Spider Clan, and New Mangaverse: The Rings of Fate.
Well with that the sun sets on this series. However I should give a brief mention to the issue of Spider-Man: Fairy Tales that was based on a Japanese folklore. I enjoyed it, but honestly have no clue what tale they are referencing. Look it up, its good. Until next time, this is Mops signing out.