Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Nerdversity Discussion; Marvel Comics and Super Sentai

In 1939, Timely Comics came into the scene, bringing with it a new generation of superheroes, including the original Human Torch, Captain America and Namor. In 1951, they changed their name to Atlas comics, finally becoming Marvel Comics in 1961, where they modernised the hero genre and bought it back.

So the question many of you are wondering here, is what does Marvel Comics in the 1980s have to do with Super Sentai and Tokusatsu in general?

After Shotaro Ishinomori had had runaway success with the likes of Kamen Rider, Gorenger and JAKQ, Marvel was impressed and worked with Toei in 1978 to create SUPAIDA-MAN, which was also a success, even Stan Lee himself said that he preferred this one, compared to the 1975 Spider-Man TV series with Nicholas Hammond. It was also the first Toei made tokusatsu series to feature a transforming robot, which Spider-Man would use to fight giant aliens with. The plot wasn't at all like the comics, instead, the suit and powers were given to him by an alien race from the planet Spider. As of Spider-Verse, Marvel have considered this carnation Canon to Spider-Man and inhabits his own version of the Marvel universe. 

Marvel's first joint production with Toei was a series called Battle Fever J in 1979. Now, it was the first series to use the term Super Sentai, unlike Gorenger and JAKQ, thus, from 1979 - 1994, it was considered the FIRST Super Sentai team. Marvel had wanted this show to be an adaptation of Captain America, with the red hero, Captain Japan being a solo hero, teaming up with other heroes. 

The artwork of the series was done in the style of John Byrne, an artist on the X-Men comics. The costumes even have a vaguely Marvel Comics look to them, with Battle Kenya emulating Black Panther and Miss America being similar to Captain America. Marvel have since confirmed that Battle Fever J is part of the Marvel Universe, inhabiting their own timeline. 

Denziman was the second Super Sentai Series done with the Marvel copyright and licensing attached. However, Marvel had no direct input this time. Instead, Toei followed on from the success of Battle Fever and made an ensemble cast. However, the inspirations from Marvel are still there. Denziman was inspired by Hulk, Thor and Silver Surfer, with the main villainess. Queen Hedrian looking almost identical to Hela from the Thor comics.

The last of the Toei and Marvel made Super Sentai was Sun Vulcan, released in 1981. Like with Denziman, there is very little influence or direct involvement here, as it's a direct sequel to Denziman, but the old Thor influences are there after the appearance of Hedrian.

That wasn't the end of the saga. In 1983, Marvel's Japanese division had plans of bringing Spider-Man and Sun Vulcan to the United States and to produce comics following their adventures. However, since they couldn't find anyone interested in snapping it up, even HBO said no, The project was finally cancelled in 1985. However, when then Marvel executive Margaret Loesch couldn't find a buyer, she found herself in charge of Fox Kids. she was offered Power Rangers in 1992 by Saban and the rest is history.