Comics : Spider-Man: The Manga #22
This review was first published on: 2004.
The Comics Buyer's Guide #1303 (November 6, 1998) reported that "Marvel actually canceled its manga titles in May due to low sales" but reversed that decision when they were contacted by Dano Ink, "a company that specializes in packaging Japanese comics for the American market". As things stand now, "Dano Ink will package the titles for Marvel with almost no changes in format or scheduling" in a deal that is "somewhat similar to... Heroes Reborn or Marvel Knights". Is this last minute save worth it? Here's the latest storyline.
Spider-Man: The Manga #22
Dec 1998 : SM Title
Summary: The Winter Witch
Arc: Part 1 of "Spider-Man: The Manga Seventh Arc"
Our friendly neighborhood stiff, Yu Komori, is out girl-watching with his friends on a beautiful Autumn day when he is overwhelmed by a disturbing sensation that makes him look like the central figure in Edvard Munch's "The Scream". Turns out it is only his spider-sense warning him that something is about to happen at a nearby flower garden. He notices a beautiful young woman in a black mourning kimono standing by the flowers. She looks inexpressibly sad; so thoroughly absorbed in her sadness that she has cut herself off from the outside world. Yu decides he must keep on eye on this strange woman but once he focuses on her, winter seems to engulf the entire square. The water in the fountain freezes, the flowers die and Yu feels so cold, it is "like razors pressing hard" against his body. He knows it is the woman controlling the "freezing winds". "She looked human enough but she was as cold as winter itself." She seemed to be tapping "the place where the coldest of winters comes from". Yu's eyes freeze shut. His eyelashes turn to icicles. He can't feel his skin. And just when it seems that he can endure no more, he opens his eyes and all is back to the way it was. Even the woman is gone. It must have been his imagination except... why are the flowers now all dead?
Yu realizes that something did happen but only he is fully aware of it because of his spider-sense. That night, Yu obsesses over the woman. "She's just like me", he thinks, "Another super-powered being." And he knows he has to find her.
The next day, at school, Yu is again "absent without notice". He has gone out to try to track the Winter Woman.
This is almost entirely unrelated to the Spider-Man we know. Apart from the fact that there's no Spidey costume in sight, the pace is completely different. Ditko and Lee would have covered this entire issue in two pages, with space left over for a Hostess Twinkies ad.
You can't compare this stuff with U.S. Spidey. But if I judge this on a complete standalone scale, there's undoubtably some real value in this story. Enough so to offer four webs.