WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Spider-Geddon #3 by Christos Gage, Carlo Barberi, Todd Nauck, José Marzan Jr., David Curiel and VC's Travis Lanham, on sale now.
Spider-Geddon is in full swing (pun intended), bringing together spider-heroes from all over the multiverse to once again battle the deadly Inheritors. With the main series, tie-ins and spin-offs that have already been released, there’s more than enough room to have a little bit of fun in between the gruesome totem-eating. An early scene from Spider-Geddon #3, for example, sees the Superior Spider-Man poke fun at the Power Rangers franchise in a subtle but amusing way.
After recruiting the Spider-Man from the PS4 game in Spider-Geddon #0, the newly rebranded Superior Spider-Man from Earth-616 (he used to be the Superior Octopus until a little snafu called Secret Empire led to him abandoning the name) has now traveled to Earth-51778 to enlist the help of someone he calls “one of our most powerful allies.” We soon find out that he’s talking about Takuya Yamashiro, the pilot of the giant mech called Leopardon.
Takuya Yamashiro’s history in Marvel comics started in 2014’s Spider-Verse event, the story this event is a direct sequel to, but Yamashiro and Leopardon originate in the late ‘70s from the live-action Japanese tokusatsu Spider-Man series, which ran for 41 episodes between 1978 and 1979. Diverging from the original Marvel comics almost completely, Toei’s live-action series focused on a young motocross racer injected with Spider-Extract who dons the familiar costume to fight against the Iron Cross Army and avenge the death of his father.
Toei’s Spider-Man series adopted the “monster of the week” formula, which saw Yamashiro fight a regular sized version of his enemies before jumping into his giant robot Leopardon to fight the enlarged version of the monster for the final act of the episode. Spider-Man saw great popularity in Japan upon its release, and the all-important structure to each episode was later adopted by Toei for subsequent incarnations of their Super Sentai series. If that doesn’t ring any bells, then maybe the western adaptations of Super Sentai would be more familiar for you, as when the footage of brightly colored superheroes fighting giant monsters with robots made its way to America, it was developed for television and rebranded as Power Rangers.
In Spider-Geddon #3, the Superior Spider-Man and PS4 Spider-Man land on Earth-51778, where the latter looks at the barren landscape and asks if they’ve landed on an Earth that suffers from constant earthquakes. This already feels like a slight dig at the fact that a lot of the giant robot/monster fights on the tv show took place in open areas like this, presumably because they were easy to shoot on and cheap to produce. The good-natured ribbing goes a step further when the arriving spider-heroes teleport into the cockpit of Leopardon, and Superior Spider-Man questions Yamashiro’s combat style.
Yamashiro is in the process of activating Leopardon’s arm rockets, which Otto discourages, directing him to use the sword instead. Yamashiro is merely following the structure of the original tokusatsu series, in which the fight builds up towards the final, powerful blow with Sword Vigor. With Superior Spider-Man demanding that Yamashiro use the sword immediately, Spider-Geddon is subtly poking fun at the tropes of not only the original TV series, but the Super Sentai that follows the same narrative rhythms. Of course, the Power Rangers could jump into the Megazord as soon as a monster appears and merely squish the tiny demon under their massive mech boot, but that’s not the way the episodes progress.
Yamashiro even comments on the unusual nature of this action. “Lead with sword vigor? but that seems dishonorable. Sword Vigor is so powerful…” he says. Otto questions where the honor is in letting the monster roam around to potentially kill innocents. Yamashiro concedes, and unleashes Sword Vigor to deadly effect. Despite securing victory, Yamashiro is not impressed. “But if I always fought this way, it would be...boring,” he says, and he’s right. If he or the Power Rangers fought this way in every episode, the show would be over a lot quicker every week. So while there is an internal logic to the universes created for Toei’s Spider-Man and Super Sentai, it’s fun to see the Superior Spider-Man poke fun at it in this way.