With Peter Parker bringing the Spider-Verse to the MCU in Spider-Man: No Way Home, now’s a good time for Marvel and Kodansha to bring back Yu Komori.
The Spider-Verse is coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in Spider-Man: No Way Home on Dec. 17. Fans of the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man film franchise and the more recent The Amazing Spider-Man films are in for a real treat, as Spider-Man: No Way Home will be canonizing those films as part of MCU Multiverse. Not only will this create interesting new opportunities for the future of the Spider-Man film franchise, but it’ll especially create new opportunities for other media outlets as well.
The concept of the Spider-Verse is, of course, not new. Even before the 2014-2015 Spider-Verse event comic established a whole multiverse of web-slingers like Spider-Gwen, alternate universe versions of Spider-Men and Spider-Women were already in existence. These include the versions of Peter Parker and Miles Morales who resided in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe and May “Mayday” Parker from the MC2 Universe. The latter is the daughter of Peter Parker and his iconic love interest, Mary Jane “MJ” Watson in that universe. An even earlier predecessor to those characters, however, is Japan’s very own Spider-Man, Yu Komori, who appeared in Ryoichi Ikegami’s 1970 Spider-Man manga.
In many ways, Yu Komori is really the first true AU Spider-Man that saw publication. When Marvel licensed their Spider-Man property to Japanese publishers in the late 1960s, they did so with the goal of gaining more Japanese fans. The manga publisher that took up the task of reinventing Spider-Man for a Japanese audience was Kodansha, which contracted Ryoichi Ikegami of Crying Freeman fame to reinvent Peter Parker as a Japanese character. The end result was a Japanese junior high school student named Yu Komori who made his Spider-Man manga debut in 1970.
Despite being younger than the 16-year-old Peter Parker in the US, Yu is conceptually similar to his American counterpart. Like Peter, Yu lives with his widowed Aunt Mei (Aunt May’s Japanese counterpart) in Tokyo and also has a love interest in the form of Rumiko “Rumi” Shiraishi. The latter is loosely based on the characters of Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy and is a childhood friend of Yu’s who lives in Hokkaido. He is also academically smart like Peter, but instead of being socially awkward, he is socially withdrawn.
When Yu gets bitten by a radioactive spider that grants him spider-like abilities, his storyline starts to diverge from that of Peter Parker’s. Whereas Peter wastes no time in capitalizing on his new spider-like abilities as Spider-Man by becoming a television sensation, Yu doesn’t want to stand out and decides to keep his powers a secret. It’s not until his world’s version of Electro starts attacking Japan that he goes public as Spider-Man for the first time. This is where more differences between Yu and Peter get established.
Originally, Peter had no interest in being a crime-fighter during his first outings as Spider-Man; he only wanted the sensation that came with being Spider-Man. It’s not until he looked the other way at a robbery he witnessed one day that he learned the true meaning of the famous line, “With great power, there must also come great responsibility.” By not stopping the fleeing thief he witnessed, that same thief later robbed and murdered his Uncle Ben, which then made it difficult for his Aunt May to afford rent. This was the experience that ultimately forced Peter to reconsider his priorities as Spider-Man.
In Yu’s case, he learns the meaning of “With great power, there must also come great responsibility” in a completely different way. The event that motivates Yu to make his first public outing as Spider-Man is the Japanese police offering a ¥1 million reward for Electro’s capture following a crime spree. Yu wants to give the money to his friend Rumi to help cover her mother’s medical expenses.
Unfortunately for Yu, his lack of experience as a crime-fighter means he makes a lot of rookie mistakes that result in the deaths of innocent people during his fights with Electro. When he does manage to defeat Electro by killing him, he learns to his horror that Electro was Rumi’s brother, who had been committing robberies in order to restore his humanity after being turned into a cyborg. Despite being celebrated as a hero, Yu feels nothing but remorse for his actions.
With Marvel capitalizing on the Spider-Verse in both the MCU and in the highly successful Into the Spider-Verse CGI films, now seems like a good time for Marvel, Sony and Kodansha to capitalize on their first AU Spider-Man from Japan. Not only was Yu Komori officially integrated into the Marvel mainstream comics Spider-Verse in 2014 as the Earth-70019 Spider-Man, but he’d be a welcome addition to the MCU. With Disney expanding their MCU franchise to television shows on Disney+, bringing Yu into the MCU could be a great opportunity for the franchise to tap into the anime and manga industries.