Jordan Raphael, Author, Tom Spurgeon, Joint Author . Chicago Review $24.95 (306p) ISBN 978-1-55652-506-3

Stan Lee, the cocreator of pop cultural icons like Spider-Man, the Hulk and the X-Men, has long been the subject of debate within the comics community, and Raphael and Spurgeon aim to set the record straight in this well-researched and entertaining book. In the late 1960s, Lee elevated himself into the public eye as the face of Marvel Comics, adopting a colorful persona along the way. Left behind were his c-creators, artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, who never received the credit they deserved. At age 17, in 19TK, Lee (né Stanley Lieber) took a job as an all-purpose assistant at his cousin Martin Goodman's comic book company, Timely. A frustrated novelist, Lee remained at Timely, shielded by Goodman from the industry's mid-century tumults, and eventually he transformed the company into Marvel Comics, steering it and himself into pop culture history. The authors portray Lee as a constantly enthusiastic, slightly daffy figure who turned a Depression-era work ethic and real bursts of creativity into something special. For all of his faults, the authors give Lee proper credit for being a fast and exciting creator—who gave superheroes real-world problems and anxieties and used this realism for its maximum potential. Raphael and Spurgeon also chronicle Lee's decades in the wilderness of Hollywood, trying and failing to get decent films made from Marvel properties. Writer Raphael and cartoonist Spurgeon have put together a solid narrative well interwoven with the history of comics. As they demonstrate well, Lee's story is the story of mainstream comic books and one that is important reading. 12 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
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Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-61374-292-1
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