Spidey Spotlight: Manga Spider-Man


In this week’s Spidey Spotlight, a series which takes a closer look into the Spider-Men and Women of Marvel’s Multiverse, we’ll dive into the origins of a certain Japanese Spider-Man. No, not Takuya Yamashiro (otherwise known as Supaidaman), but the Manga Spider-Man straight from Tokyo: Yu Komori.

manga spider-man mask
manga spider-man mask /

Many Parallels can be drawn between the Spider-Man of Earth-616 and the Japanese Spider-Man of Earth-70019. Like Peter, a student of Midtown High School, Yu Komori was a nerdy bookworm attending Otowa High School in Tokyo. Whereas Peter Parker was bitten by a spider that had been irradiated by a particle accelerator in a demonstration held by General Techtronics Corporation, Yu Komori was the one who infected the spider that bit him with large amounts of radiation while he conducted an experiment at school using radioactivity harnessing equipment (what a school right?).

manga spider bite
manga spider bite /

With countless blood cells irradiated by the bite, Yu soon discovers he has unbelievable strength and jumping ability, and that his hands and feet are able to adhere to anything. This is where another difference between the Yu and Peter is seen, as Yu Komori acclimates fairly rapidly to his new abilities, instantly interested in discovering more about his powers.

In a span of a few days, if not a few pages, Yu succeeds in creating a synthetic spider webbing with amazing adhesive abilities, crafts his trusty web-shooters, and sews a new uniform which he apparently already had an idea for seeing as he created it in no time at all. There’s not much practice involved either, or at least it’s not shown or implied.

manga spider-man tools
manga spider-man tools /

Electro, the Electric Man, is the first costumed villain that Yu Komori runs into. This version of Electro dons a highly similar costume to his American counterpart, which seems to be the main carry over between the American and Japanese version of Spider-Man (the costumes are pretty much the same in both iterations). His powers are shown to be quite powerful; he unleashes very thin and weak-looking electric blasts from his fingers that seem to utterly destroy cop cars and easily melt through a reinforced bank vault during his robbery of a bank in Shinjuku. Yu is present when the robbery take place, but doesn’t get involved as Spider-Man quite yet.

Spider-Man manga electro
Spider-Man manga electro /

The motivational driver of his first confrontation as Spider-Man turns out to be his best friend and pen pal, Rumiko Shiraishi. With her brother missing in action, and her mom in the hospital buried in bills, Rumi asks for Yu’s help in finding her brother’s whereabouts. Unable to do so, Yu decides to earn money and directly help Rumi pay for her mom’s bills. It’s then that the Daily Bugle’s Japanese analogue can be found in the manga as the Joho Newspaper Company, where instead of earning money through his photography, Komori pursues a $100,000 bounty the newspaper puts out on Electro.

Soon enough, Yu easily finds Electro committing another crime and confronts him. It’s through this second encounter that Komori first declares himself as Spider-Man, thinking of it on the spot when Electro asks him what he is. A bemused Electro takes no time at all to sling lightning at his new-found foe, and an untrained Spidey proves unable to stop Electro from killing two officers and getting away with the money.

Spider-man manga electro fight
Spider-man manga electro fight /

Electro’s origin in the manga differs from the American version in that it’s a famous electronics researcher/high voltage engineer that gives Electro his powers, rather than a freak lightning accident. During his third and final encounter with Spider-Man, Electro accidentally zaps his engineer/partner in crime. In his dying breath, the engineer condemns Electro as a man who’ll electrocute anyone he touches until the day he dies, forever unable to touch another person. Enraged by the knowledge he’ll never be a regular human again, Electro renews his attacks.

After a final (and frankly unflattering) punch, Electro is bested and the force of the blow proves to be fatal. The dying Electro’s identity is revealed to be that of Rumi’s brother; after crippling a child in a motor accident, he was forced to pay a $50,000 settlement, so he turned to a life of crime in order to pay it off. The villain succumbs to his wounds and the battle ends.

Spider-Man manga punch
Spider-Man manga punch /

After the ordeal, and quite opposite to his Earth-616 counterpart, Spider-Man is then heralded in the newspapers as the hero who defeated Electro with one punch, with headlines calling him “a champion of justice.” Electro passes away and Rumi returns to her home, leaving a forlorn Yu back in Tokyo. It’s from this point on that Yu Komori begins his career as Spider-Man, struggling with both the death of a person at his hands, as well as the threat of new villains.

Thanks for reading this week’s Spidey Spotlight, and stay tuned for more!