Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sci Fi Trifles: A Ninja/Power Ranger/Shogun Warrior-style Spider-Man?

Surely everybody reading this site is familiar with the iconic Marvel superhero Spider-Man who has become a household name since making his big splash in comics back in 1962 (and more recently on the big screen). But did you know that back in the 1970’s that the Japanese did a live action television series featuring an altered version of the character (which is not to be confused with the short-lived CBS series from 1977)? And that this foreign made version gave us a series that looked something like the web crawler meets Ninjas meets The Power Rangers meets the Shogun Warriors meets Ultraman?

japanese-spidermanYou see, Marvel entered into a licensing agreement back then with Toei Company that allowed for Japanese adaptations of several of their better known comic book characters. Toei started with Spider-Man and produced a 41 episode series with a character whose costume and powers closely resembled the Marvel version, but who added quite a few changes from the original. This web crawler had alien origins and he received his powers from his 400 year old “brother” from the planet Spider (where else?) and had to fight the sinister Professor Monster who commanded the Iron Cross Army. Along with his customary powers, the Japanese Spider Man had at his disposal the giant Shogun Warrior-like robot “Marveller”, a super-high tech car, and a vast assortment of other high-tech little gadgets.

The series quickly headed into Power Rangers type absurdity with episode titles like “To the Flaming Hell: See the Tears of the Snake Woman”, “The Hero’s Shining Hot Blood”, and “From the Unexplored Amazon: Here Comes the Mummified Beautiful Woman”. It’s all great cheesy fun and definitely worth seeing as Marvel is currently streaming several episodes of the show on their website. And we can only hope this one will get a good DVD treatment before too long as it would be great viewing late at night with a group of friends and plenty of alcoholic beverages!

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