In collaboration with Monsutā, Japanese Icons brings you the biggest stories from the birthplace of Monsutā’s lineup of drinks, Japan. Featuring two beers and an alcoholic lemon chūhai, the giant-sized taste of Monsutā’s drinks is made in a country of giant-sized stories and from music to film, sports to gaming, this series celebrates the Japanese Icons that inspired the Monsutā legacy.
The ever-expanding Spider-Verse has treated us to almost endless incarnations of Spider-Man. From Peter Parker to Peter Porker, Miles Morales to Gwen Stacey, Marvel canon has become filled with all manner of web slingers but perhaps none are more baffling than Takuya Yamashiro or The Emissary From Hell. With great power comes great responsibility and with a loose 70s licensing deal came one of the most entertaining incarnations of Spidey yet. From his extraterrestrial beginnings to his influence on The Power Rangers, let’s take a look at how Supaidāman swung his way into Marvel lore.
The story of The Emissary From Hell begins around 1977 with Marvel’s emissary to Japan, Gene Pelc. Marvel’s comics were failing to grab a strong foothold in Japan and Pelc was sent to Japan by Stan Lee and Jim Galtron to develop a licensing deal with Toei, famous in the 70s for its special-effects-laden tokusatsu films and TV shows. Negotiations ended with an agreement allowing Toei free use of Spider-Man over the next three years, the result of which was an interpretation of New York’s favourite masked vigilante that can only be described as “liberal.” The longevity of many tokusatsu series at the time largely depended on toy sales and Toei decided to take a few liberties with the character in order to make him more appealing to young audiences.
In place of mild-mannered Peter Parker, our protagonist in Supaidāman is motocross champion Takuya Yamashiro. After receiving a series of telepathic messages, he eventually gives in to the call and decides to forgo an important race to investigate. He comes across his injured space archaeologist father before being attacked by the evil Professor Monster’s Iron Army. Falling into a cave, he encounters Garia, the lone survivor of Planet Spider, who injects him with his own blood and provides him with the Spider Bracelet. The bracelet gives Yamashiro web-slinging abilities akin to the ones we’re familiar with but carries the added bonuses of being able to summon Garia’s 25,000-tonne, cannon-equipped spaceship and machine gun-equipped flying car which transform into a 60-meter-tall robot called Leopardon. Yamashiro uses these abilities (as well as ninjitsu) to defeat a variety of outer space existential threats to Earth but, forced to take time away from motocross races, also has to pick up a side hustle here and there.
The series ran for just over 40 episodes and one movie between 1978 and 1979 and, despite its relatively short run time, had a massive impact on Marvel’s popularity in Japan and the future of tokusatsu. While the series’ pilot was met with largely stunned silence from American Marvel executives, Stan Lee championed the Japanese series, describing it as a “real-life comic book.” The success of toy sales for Supaidāman’s Leopardon also led to the inclusion of giant robots in Battle Fever J, the third entry in the tokusatsu franchise Super Sentai on which the massive Power Rangers franchise is based. The impact of the series didn’t stop there, with Yamashiro and Leopardon eventually finding their way into official Marvel canon in 2014 and 2018 comic book storylines and are rumoured to make an appearance in next year’s Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse film.
If you’re new to Supaidāman, there are hours of content to check out on YouTube and if you’re new to Monsutā’s lineup of drinks, you can grab them from your nearest BWS Dan Murphys or from Jimmy Brings. Monsutā will be back with another Japanese Icon in a couple of weeks. Until then, crack open a can of Monsutā and discover The Emissary of Hell, Supaidāman.
Monsutā products are available at BWS or Dan Murphy’s or from Jimmy Brings.