The Marvel Comics Connection To Super Sentai And Power Rangers [Video]
You may have already noticed that I'm a pretty big fan of going really deep into the origins and minutiae of my favorite characters. That's one of the reasons that I really appreciate what ToyBountyHunters has been doing with their in-depth It's Henshin Time! series on the origins of the massive, long-running Super Sentai series, the franchise that gave us the source material for our American Power Rangers. They spend a lot of time discussing the origins and development of the series, an as someone who really likes that stuff, it's fascinating.
The same goes for their latest video, the third part of their retrospective, where they turn their attention to the connection between Marvel Comics and the development of Super Sentai -- and while I already knew all about the tokusatsu series about Spider-Man -- known colloquially as Japanese Spider-Man -- there's a lot in there that I wasn't familiar with, like how Battle Fever J started out as a Captain America show.
For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the Japanese Spider-Man show (also referred to as Supaidaman to differentiate it from his American counterpart) is basically amazing. A while back, erstwhile ComicsAlliance editor Caleb Goellner and I did in-depth breakdowns of the first few episodes, and while I love it for its own merits, it's really remarkable for how different it is from its source material. Takuya Yamashiro bears very little resemblance to Peter Parker -- Parker starts out as a nerdy outcast, while Yamashiro is pretty much the definition of a cool guy, a handsome motorcycle racer with truly magnificent hair, and rather than a fateful spider bite and a lesson about power and responsibility, Supaidaman gets his powers from an alien from Planet Spider named Garia and gets charged with a very specific mission to defend Earth from the Iron Cross army. The really fun thing is that it's his girlfriend who's a news photographer, and her editor is secretly Amazoness, Professor Monster's second-in-command, which is basically like having the Green Goblin turn out to be J. Jonah Jameson.
It's pretty weird, but in all fairness, Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger is about noble warriors descended from dinosaurs and not teenagers with attitude who hang out at a juice bar, so, you know, fair's fair.
The really significant thing, as the video goes into in depth, is that Supaidaman provides the source of one of the most significant elements of Super Sentai: the giant robot. The Marveller, a spaceship that transformed into the sword-wielding Leopardon, seems completely out of place for Spider-Man, but it was the start of a long-running tradition of Sentai teams slugging it out with giant monsters in robots of their own. As a result, Supaidaman has a huge historical significance in the genre, and forms a bridge between Shotaro Ishinomori's Kamen Rider, in which a motorcycle riding solo hero was charged with battling a sinister worldwide organization of monsters, and Super Sentai, where the scale of those battles was upgraded to these towering robots.
Of course, Kamen Rider also spent his first few adventures fighting Bat Man and Spider Man, so there's always been a little bit of a connection mixed in there somewhere.
Unfortunately, while Supaidaman was available to watch on Marvel.com for a while, it appears to have been taken down recently. There is hope, however, especially with the Emissary From Hell set to appear in the current Spider-Verse crossover, presumably taking his place as the best possible version of Spider-Man.