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Goodbye to the Superhero of Marvel Comics Stan Lee

November 16, 2018

The beloved comic book legend, Stan Lee, passed at the age of 95 on November 12th in Los Angeles after being rushed to the hospital. Although the cause of his death has not yet been released, earlier in the year, Lee revealed he’d been struggling with pneumonia. After the sad news became public, Lee’s daughter, J.C.. said, “My father loved all of his fans. He was the greatest, most decent man.”

Born in New York in 1922, Lee’s career spanned over 70 years. Growing up, young Stan loved to watch heroic films starring Errol Flynn. He was certain he wanted to be a writer and hoped to author a great novel one day. From 1942 to 1945, Lee served in the United States Army where he was classified as a “playwright,” and his work included writing manuals, training films, slogans, and sometimes cartooning.

During the 1950’s Lee was challenged to come up with his version of a superhero team in response to the success of DC Comics’ popular super-team, the Justice League of America. While Lee was busy creating heroes, he found himself wanting to quit his job as he didn’t feel a passion for the characters. Lee searched his soul for what would make compelling and long-lasting superheroes. After all, he found the comic book characters of that time to be idealized archetypes and rather unrelatable. In contrast, Lee wanted to create heroes that were flawed, sometimes temperamental and holding grudges, who had to concern themselves with things like paying rent, impressing their love interests, and becoming ill.

In 1961, together with artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee co-founded Marvel Comics and helped create the superhero team called the Fantastic Four–followed by the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, Black Panther, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, and more! Marvel’s characters were thrust into dramatic good-vs-evil scenarios battling supervillains and cosmic threats. But it was the heroes’ imperfections that made the characters relatable. When vulnerabilities come into play, more always seems to be at stake.

Lee served as Marvel’s creative leader for two decades, working as a comic book writer, editor, and publisher. He collaborated with other writers and artists, and over time, the comics attracted countless fans. What started out as a small division of a publishing house transformed into a multimedia corporation that dominated the comics industry under Lee’s leadership.

Once several Marvel movie adaptations were made, Lee’s superheroes garnered legions of fans across the globe. And Lee frequently cameoed in them. Most recently, he can be seen near the end of Venom as he gives relationship advice to Eddie Brock. Lee will also appear in the upcoming films Captain Marvel and Avengers 4, as he already filmed cameos for them.

Lee once reflected on his career, saying:

“I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: Entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it, they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain, you’re doing a good thing.”

An outpouring of tributes to Lee has been shared far and wide since his passing.

Marvel Studios is owned by the Walt Disney Company which brings the Marvel Cinematic  Universe to the silver screen. Walt Disney Chairman Bob Iger honored Lee in a tweet, saying, “Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created. A super hero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain, and to connect. The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart.”

Actor Mark Ruffalo who plays the Hulk, tweeted, “Sad, sad day. Rest in Power, Uncle Stan. You have made the world a better place through the power of modern mythology and your love of this messy business of being human …”

And wouldn’t you know it, but Stan Lee was in the process of collaborating with his daughter, creating a new superhero just days before he passed. According to J.C. Lee, that new hero will be called Dirt Man, but his unique powers and backstory are still a mystery to the public. J.C. plans to share the character with Marvel fans in due time. “[He’s the] last little angel that we have tucked away,” she said. Also, J.C. will launch a new foundation in memory of her dad named the Stan Lee Childhood Literacy Foundation to encourage children to read and write.

Excelsior! Stan “The Man”! Rest in peace.

Stan Lee’s One Billion Dollar Lawsuit

May 21, 2018

Stan Lee, the Marvel icon as well as literary and cultural hero, is flexing his litigious muscle yet again. At ninety-five years of age, the comic book pioneer is suing Pow! Entertainment for $1 billion–that’s billion with a capital B! The suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, and it asserts that Pow!–a company Lee co-founded–misappropriated his name and likeness to sell the entity to a Chinese business interest.

The main contention of the legal action is that Pow! CEO Leo Shane Duffy and co-founder Gill Champion deceitfully attained a document in which Lee allegedly gave over exclusive rights to his identity and likeness to Pow! Entertainment. Adam Grant, Stan’s attorney, filed the lawsuit stating, “Lee does not recall anyone reading the illegitimate document to him, and, due to his advanced macular degeneration he could not have read it himself.”

Pow! Entertainment has responded by calling the lawsuit “preposterous,” saying that Stan “clearly understood” the contract he was signing. “The complaint is completely without merit,” reads the statement from Pow! Entertainment. “In particular, the notion that Mr. Lee did not knowingly grant POW! Entertainment the exclusive rights to his creative works or his identity is so preposterous that the Company has to wonder whether Mr. Lee is personally behind this lawsuit. There is no question that Mr. Lee–who along with his daughter was and remains a substantial POW! Entertainment shareholder—clearly understood the terms of the agreements he signed. The evidence, which includes Mr. Lee’s subsequent statements and conduct, is overwhelming and the Company looks forward to presenting it in court.”

If this all seems a bit messy, keep in mind that Stan is currently suing his former manager Jerardo Olivarez for fraud and elder abuse. The suit alleges that Jerardo sold vials of Lee’s blood as well as comics stamped with Lee’s blood–or “DNA Ink” as a legacy for his fans–without Stan’s approval. The suit also alleges Olivarez transferred over $1.4 million from Stan’s account in an apparent embezzlement scheme, among other allegations. Now, Stan put out a video recently saying that the claims of elder abuse were false, but that was apparently in relation to accusations that his daughter, J.C., and his long-time friend, Keya Morgan, were inflicting both physical and psychological abuse upon the comic-book veteran. The litigiousness thickens as Stan takes issue with anyone seeking to besmirch his daughter or his close friends. He says, “Now you people have been publishing the most hateful, harmful material about me and about my friend Keya and some others. Material which is totally incorrect, totally based on slander, totally the type of thing that I’m going to sue your a** off when I get a chance.”

This is all very sad considering the fact that without Stan Lee we would not have Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, X-Men, the Hulk, Iron Man, and many, many more cherished characters. He’s also been an indefatigable ambassador for all things comic book and comic-book culture. The impact Stan has had on modern culture is impossible to quantify, but it is safe to say his cultural influence looms larger by the day. And now, in the twilight of his life, it seems there are those seeking to take advantage of a proud man with declining faculties as well as multiple health issues. Or it could perhaps be that the fighting spirit that propelled Stan Lee to the very top off his profession is still alive and kicking, and it’s manifesting itself in multiple lawsuits and threats of even more lawsuits. Or maybe it’s just that we live in a litigious culture and, at a certain point of fame and fortune, everybody tends to sue everybody.