Spider-Man Fake Red | Review
Spider-Man: Fake Red
by Yusuke Osawa
June 2023, VIZ, $14.99
Grades 7 and Up
Why did I read this book? Why did I bother trying to review it? It’s so out of my element. But that was part of it. I wanted to push my reading and writing boundaries. And I love superhero books! I’m just intimidated by trying to delve into iconic characters who have a rich history. So whenever I see a book where they try to rework the classic character for a new audience, I try to grab the moment. And a Spider-Man manga? Did that exist before? (I found a Wikipedia article that said there was a manga version back in the70s.) I’m not a huge manga fan…
Boy, was I surprised at how much I enjoyed the book! It will be interesting to add this title to my collection and see how students react to it.
Yu is in a new high school and is not having an easy time adjusting. He’s failing his classes. He’s not really making friends. His father is riding him hard about his grades. And Yu is obsessed with Spider-Man. He relishes the idea of meeting him or being like him. He works out in a gym, trying to climb just like his hero.
But Yu isn’t like Spider-Man. He won’t stop injustice when he sees it. He witnesses a classmate being bullied and he just stands by. Feeling awful about it, Yu skulks away and happens onto a discarded Spider-Man costume. But it’s not a fake. This is the real deal. And where has Spider-Man been? Spider-Man has been missing in action.
Yu does try to be like the superhero, as he dons the costume, but it’s hard work and he doesn’t have superpowers. A girl from school, one he is crushing on (sorry Yu, you’re not her type), figures out his secret but thinks he’s the actual Spider-Man. Will Yu be a good enough fake Spider-Man? Where is Peter Parker? When will he be back to save the city?
Filled with lots of action and classic manga-style artwork, this was a really interesting blend of manga and the iconic superhero world. I think today’s young readers are ready for a mash-up of styles. And it isn’t just re-creating the Spider-Man story in a manga style but instead takes a whole new spin on the story.
While I’m neither an expert in manga nor superheroes, my untrained eye in these formats felt like it all worked. The story starts slowly… but quickly builds up and I was surprised at how much detail was in the story. This is also longer than the typical Viz title – longer than a single volume of Naruto or Demon Slayer. But the story builds and works together. The final battle – was epic.
The classic style black and white line drawings all feel like manga, but unlike manga, I did read it from left-to-right. I’m used to seeing Spider-Man in full color, yet… the black and white gave a feel of excitement and newness. This is a great addition to the Viz line.
Personally, I’d like everyone to try it and get out of their comfort zone, but let’s see what happens when this title is released.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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