December is Stan Lee's 90th birthday, and Comics Buyer's Guide is doing an appreciation cover story (by me, of course). So gimme a hand:
What's your favorite thing about Stan Lee? What anecdote? What character, story or comic book? What accomplishment? What movie cameo?
Let me know what you think, Legionnaires!
Reading Stan's Soapbox from the mid-70s, just as it was slowly being phased out, gave me the sense that Stan wanted us to have a love of comics without the shame or ridicule that sometimes came along with it. That we were not alone; there was a Marvel Universe that we were a major part of. And that he wanted to make sure that we had the time of our lives.
The feeling I got was that when Stan was in charge, he cared about his audience, appreciated his audience and never underestimated his audience.
To me, Stan Lee made you feel cool reading comics, regardless to what others thought.
Amazing Spider-Man #31-33, the Master Planner saga.
Fantastic Four #25-26, Hulk vs. the Fantastic Four.
For me, those are the highest of high points.
I've got to agree with Robin on the movie cameo!
As for stories Stan wrote, it's hard to decide. "This Man... This Monster!" is a favorite, of course, but so is the Master Planner saga, and I'm also partial to "Brother, Take My Hand" from Daredevil 47.
He was also always good at natural free flowing dialogue that made others (particularly the DC writers) sound stilted. His speeches and captions literally 'sing' from the pages. No one tops him, even today.
George Poague said:
Good to see some positive comments about Stan Lee, for a change, after the Stan-bashing that has been posted on this site with increasing frequency.
With due respect to Kirby, Ditko and others, Marvel's rise would not have happened without Stan's supervision and his editorial skills. None of the artists could have managed an entire line of comics (or dealt with Martin Goodman without losing their minds). And no writer of the '60s was in tune with the changing times like Stan was.
I agree on the Mallrats performance, very good. I enjoyed the "redneck" Stan in Thor as well.
As for stories, can't say I have read much. I did enjoy his setup of the universe and characters in Fantastic Four 1-10 in Marvel Masterworks collection. Namely his portaryal of Reed Richards, a man of science but also a man of action.
I saw Stan Lee at Comic Con in 2007. He was at the Iron Man movie panel and had a funny exchange with Robert Downey Jr.
One that jumps to my mind is the Red Skull/ Cosmic Cube storyline that ran in Tales of Suspense # 79 thru 81. Stan's dialogue really helps drive this one along. At one point as he taunts Cap, the Skull delivers this speech , "So long as men take liberty for granted - so long as they laugh at brotherhood--sneer at honesty--and turn away from faith--so long will the forces of the Red Skull creep ever closer to the final victory!" Heavy duty stuff for a Silver Age super hero story.
Another huge point for Stan - he rescued Gene Colan, John Romita and John Buscema from comic book limbo and gave each the opportunity to shine as artist and storyteller. Around that same period in the mid-sixties he also opened the door for an unknown artist named Jim Steranko - allowing him to pencil, ink, color and write an entire series.
Stan had stopped writing monthly comics by the time I started reading (mid-70s), but his work was readily available in a number of reprint titles that abounded at the time (Marvel Tales, Marvel's Greatest Comics, Marvel Triple Action, etc), but for me, the quintessential Stan Lee experience was "The Origins of Marvel Comics." For me, the book (and its companion volumes) became the bedrock foundation of my comics fandom. It's like a personally guided tour of the birth of Marvel Comics by Marvel's greatest promoter. A lot of people have called Stan a "huckster," using it in it's more pejorative sense, I think. But I think Stan was, and continues to be, an extraordinary huckster in the classic sense of a carnival barker trying to drum up business. Reading Stan's Soapbox, or his cover copy, or some of the breathless captions and intros he used to drop into the stories... those incredible meta-before-meta-was-cool comments about Jack's "far-out' splash page, or brazen challenges to anyone who had the temerity to say this wasn't the "Marvel Age of" whatever it was at the time. Stan WAS a huckster, a barker, a showman and spokesman extraordinaire. His product was Marvel comics and he was in the unique position of saying whatever the hell he had to say to get you to pick that book up off the rack, and turn around and actually deliver on whatever insane promise he'd made on the cover. The man is. quite simply, a wonder.
You can argue about whether or not Stan or Jack or Steve was the "true" father of Marvel until the cows come home. The bottom line is that Marvel probably wouldn't be Marvel without ANY of those guys, and Marvel CERTAINLY wouldn't have been NEAR as much fun without Stan.
Stan created the "Welcome to the club and you're an important member" atmosphere in every Marvel book. His Soapboxes and replies in the letter pages were a Joy.
I just learned of this Stan Lee item today and it's my new favorite. After his recent pacemaker surgery, Stan issued a statement and this is part of it:
"Now hear this! Your leader hath not deserted thee! In an effort to be more like my fellow Avenger, Tony Stark, I have had an electronic pace-maker placed near my heart to insure that I’ll be able to lead thee for another 90 years."
That's a brave, strong man and I still hope that I can meet him someday. Excelsior!
(http://www.tmz.com/2012/09/28/stan-lee-pacemaker-heart-surgery/ is where I copied the text from.)
I would love to meet him, shake his hand and say "thank you".
So much Stan Lee work to consider! My first exposure to "The Man" was as the narrator of the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends/Hulk cartoon block (I thought he was saying "Stanley," by the way). I then discovered his Silver Age work which is, of course, his best. Even though I was a fan of the 2099 Universe in general (especially the Peter David-penned issues of Spider-Man 2099), I could not stomach Stan's Ravage 2099.
The first Stan Lee story I read was probably the three-part Galactus tale from Fantastic Four #48-50. I had it in one of those super-enormous reprints and I read that thing until it disintegrated. That story had a huge impact on my young mind. I loved the character moments, like Johnny's quest for the nullifier and Reed's courage as he stood up to Galactus. And I really enjoyed seeing the Surfer and his discovery of humanity, as well as Uatu's soft spot for us earthlings. I have read a lot of Galactus stories since then, but this one was by far the best and marked a real high-water mark for the 100+ issue run that Lee and Kirby had on FF.
I also love This Man, This Monster, as mentioned above, and the Master Planner arc in Spidey. I think his contribution to the MU had a lot to do with his ability to keep all the artists working at the top of their game, and his busy schedule as EiC is probably responsible for the "Marvel Method," which helped make so many of those stories great. I think his enthusiasm and energy as an ambassador for the medium was key to Marvel's success as well.
And, for the record, I kinda loved "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" It was fun, and his presence helped elevate it above complete corniness.