Comics : Spider-Man: The Manga #23

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This story is part of an Arc: "Spider-Man: The Manga Seventh Arc"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Part two of the three part "Winter Lady" arc.

In Detail...

Spider-Man: The Manga #23
Dec 1998 : SM Title
Summary: The Winter Witch
Arc: Part 2 of "Spider-Man: The Manga Seventh Arc"
Editor:  Dan Nakrosis
Writer/Artist:  Ryoichi Ikegami
Retouching and Production:  Dano Ink Studios
Translation:  Mutsumi Masuda
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Review

A speeding car cannot stop on a wet road and strikes a pedestrian, killing her instantly. Apparently, she was in a rush to get across the street to see her boyfriend so she ignored the elevated crosswalk and crossed directly. Her shocked boyfriend stands on the other side, having seen the entire thing. Up on the crosswalk, the sad woman in the black kimono watches, then turns away.

For the last few days, Yu has skipped school and wandered the city looking for the Winter Woman. In a downtown eatery, he picks up a month-old magazine and notices an article about a young man named Yamano who froze to death in his air conditioned room.

Yu goes to the editorial offices of the magazine and learns that the frozen man once worked there. "Everyone called him Mr. Ladykiller", the Editor tells him, and another man chimes in with, "Yamano was very bad to his women... There were probably a lot of women who held grudges against him." "Maybe he was dating a snow woman", says a third.

The subject turns to the writer of the article, a man named Hiroshi Takao. Yu asks to meet him but is told that Takeo, who "had a strange feeling about that accident, same as you", never showed up for work again. A woman in the office tells Yu that she knows why Takao disappeared so suddenly.

Yu takes the woman out for tea. She tells Yu the story of how Takao encountered Yamano at a bar. Yamano was busy beating up "a beautiful woman with a very sad face". When confronted by Takao, Yamano has no remorse. "All women are like dogs", he says.

After Yamano's death, Takao finds thousands of love letters written to the gigolo. He goes through them and finds out that "dozens of women were destroyed both mentally and physically", that "Yamano was a poison to women". He manages to track down a woman named Miki Saiki who had everything taken away from her by Yamano; "her money, her job, her hopes and dreams, even her future". Yu realizes that Miki must be the Winter Woman. "All the dark and gloom of the frozen winter weather is a scene from her mind itself. That eerie sound of the blizzard is actually her cry of sadness!" But what can Yu do about it?

In General...

This is a tremendous improvement over the last storyline. Yu's encounter with the Winter Witch has a quiet lyrical quality to it. The descriptions of the woman's manifestations (albeit in translation) have a feel of poetry; simple but moving. Ikegami's images of winter, his montages of the Witch and her interactions with others, are the best graphics this series has seen in ten issues. If the Witch projects an aura of unbearable sadness, it is because Ikegami's artwork makes it so.

Overall Rating...

Four webs.