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Something like this could only be written after the person has passed away and can't sue for defamation. I must admire the author's diligence in locating so many documents related to Stan Lee and his early life. What I don't admire is the author's confirmation bias. Any criticism of Lee by his peers is true and Stan's version is always suspect because he wasn't 100% truthful in every respect to everyone he met and spoke with as a teenager and young adult. Over and over the author equates Stan's hyperbole and self-promotion as having the worst possible motives behind it. Over and over Stan and his family are belittled, mocked and ridiculed by the author for every imperfection, error, and mistake. The author is very clear that he does not have the hard evidence to back up many of his accusations which doesn't prevent him from making them. The book reads like CNN fact checking Donald Trump accusing him of lying about eating toast for breakfast when he actually had scrambled eggs so he must be lying about important matters too. After so many repetitions of this technique, any legitimate criticism of Stan Lee can't be easily recognized.
As for the key accusation that Stan Lee didn't really create the Marvel Universe - that most of the credit should go to Jack Kirby and the other artists who supposedly are the actual writers because they told the story with their layouts and artwork and didn't follow a formal written script by Stan Lee. Apparently, Lee writing all the dialogue later after the artwork was done wasn't the true creative part of Marvel's silver age comic book success according to the author. The quality of the artwork was of course a key to Marvel's success, but without Stan Lee there is no magic. Lee's words, his writing, his morality in the stories isn't the result of superb layouts and artwork. It's Stan Lee's creative brain that inspired generations of children. Stan Lee DOES deserve to be held out as a father figure. No one denies it would not have happened without Kirby, Ditko, Colon, Romita, Heck, Tuska, Buscema, et seq.
Kirby and Ditko's non-Marvel output proves they can write, but they didn't write like Stan Lee. Their comics were very high quality but never sold or became popular in their lifetimes. Not all the Marvel comics in the silver age were written by Lee. Why was it that the supposed true writers (the artists) didn't work their magic with Roy Thomas's or Larry Leiber's silver age comics? Anyone can tell the difference between Stan Lee's stories and those from any other Marvel writer back then. When he stopped writing comics around the end of 1971, why couldn't the supposed true writers (the artists) keep writing good stories? The good stuff stopped when Stan Lee stopped writing it.
The author has made a super-heroic effort to chronicle Lee's life, but like Stan's heroes he has a flaw. The book oozes with envy. As Teddy Roosevelt said, "It's not the critic that counts. It's not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or how the doer of deeds could have done them better." Stan Lee was in the arena. He counted. He fell many times and made many mistakes and got conned big time as he aged. The mistakes and errors and flaws are not the story. Without him there's no Marvel Universe and no multi-billion dollar movie empire. As soon as movie technology caught up with what could be done in a comic book, Stan Lee's creations lived again. And every movie and TV show now acknowledges the artists and the writers in the credits - probably as a result of critics like the author demanding it and pointing out their critical importance.
The book is definitely comprehensive, but look out as you read it because the author highlights the worst interpretations possible of all the arcane details he's chronicled here. I didn't feel very good after reading it.
A sad ending for an iconIc legend who helped to bring happiness to children of all ages. Whether he meant to or not. The author warns that you may not like the truths revealed within. He was partially correct. The rise was exciting, the fall a disappointment. Overall a fair value.
Good amount of information I wasn't aware of previously. His primary conceit that since Stan wasn't forthright about anything, or misremembered, or lied in any instance, then every other statement he made is probably false creates the feeling that the author has an agenda. I live Kirby's work, and he deserved better. But his own exaggerations and misstatements shouldn't cast doubt on everything he ever said. We won't know the whole story at this point, and learning how Stan would shape the narrative helps in furthering my understanding of a creator of work I put a lot of value in. So it is worthwhile if aggravating at points.
Before reading the book, I was well aware of Stan Lee’s exaggeration of the creation of the Marvel Universe. His slighting of Kirby and Ditko was shameful. However, the author doesn’t give any credit at all to Lee. There is no clear evidence around the creation of the Fantastic Four, Spider-man, etc. but the author always downplays Lee’s contributions. There is no debate that Stan Lee wrote the dialog and he almost certainly had some influence in the story line. I wish the author would have taken a more balanced view.