Supaidāman (1978)

At the end of the 70s, Marvel and Toei made a three-year licensing agreement. Each could use the other’s properties in any way they wanted.

Marvel would use the main robots from two of Toei’s anime, Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace and Chōdenji Robo Combattler V, as part of the Mattel licensed Shogun Warriors comic book and, sadly, not much else. That’s right, Marvel could have had a Kamen Rider comic.

Toei was inspired by Captain America to make Battle Fever J* and also made animated movies of Tomb of Dracula and Frankenstein.

And, of course, their version of Spider-Man.

Across 41 episodes and one movie made for the Toei Manga Matsuri, this story took the costume of Spider-Man and then went absolutely insane.

Motorcycle racer Takuya Yamashiro sees the Marveller — a UFO — fall to Earth just as his father Dr. Hiroshi Yamashiro — a space archaeologist! — investigates. He’s killed by Professor Monster and his evil Iron Cross Army, who were being opposed by the alien Garia, the last surviving warrior of Planet Spider. He injects Takuya with his blood and gives him a car named the Spider Machine GP-7 as well as a bracelet that allows him to control the ship and the robot form — Leopardon — to protect Earth.

Obviously, this series is a blast. Of course Spider-Man needs a car and a giant robot and is bothered by cold. I might even prefer it to nearly every other live-action version of the character.

*The popularity of this show and Battle Fever J led to a new interest in sentai shows, which of course how we got Power Rangers here. Toei’s next two sentai series, Denshi Sentai Denziman  and Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan featured Marvel Comics Group in the credits yet had no characters from the company.

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