Describing Stan Lee as "the original genius behind Marvel Comics and most of the superheroes you've ever loved or watched on the big screen" probably isn't doing the 91-year-old comic book veteran any favors as he tries, seemingly, to rehabilitate his reputation for glory-hogging in a wide-ranging conversation to be published in this Friday's new issue of Playboy. Indeed, the (in)famously self-promoting Lee uses the interview to deliberately undermine the public perception -- one he worked hard to create, as recently as last year with his reality show Fangasm -- that he's a tremendously wealthy comic book mogul primarily responsible for the success of some of Marvel Comics' most iconic -- and profitable -- superhero characters.
Q: Why do you think the X-Men didn't find their audience until two decades after they were created? -- @godofthunder851
A: I've got a minor quibble with your timing in this question -- it was more like 12 or 15 years, really -- but you've got an interesting point there. I think most comics readers are well aware of that piece of trivia about how the X-Men were about to get the axe before Giant Size X-Men #1 breathed new life into the franchise and set them on the path of becoming what was probably the single most popular and influential franchise of the '80s and '90s, and that's not really how things usually work. In comics, you tend to either come out of the gate to massive, enduring popularity (like Batman or Spider-Man), come out strong and then fade away for whatever reason (like, sadly, Shazam!), or just sort of flounder in the midcard. It's rare that something sticks around on the edge of being canceled for a solid decade before it finds its footing, and nobody bounced back harder than Marvel's Merry Mutants.
But really, what you're asking here is two separate questions: Why didn't the X-Men take off in 1963, and why did they in 1975? So let's look at the history and see if we can't figure it out.
I think it's safe to say that Spider-Man has been through some pretty weird stuff in his time, right? I mean, that's a fifty-year saga that started with a radioactive spider-bite that gave him limited psychic powers and super-strength that he immediately used to try to find fame as a professional wrestler, and the fine folks over at Marvel Comics have somehow managed to top that for weirdness time and time again. Heck, right now, Spider-Man comics are in the midst of a supervillainous Freaky Friday story that has been running for over a year. That should tell you something.
But for my money, the absolute craziest and most hilarious Spider-Man story in years isn't the one you'll find in the comic shops on Wednesday. It's the one that's happening right now in The Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip, by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Alex Saviuk and Joe Sinnott.
Click through for all of your Friday links.
Q: What is Stan Lee's actual legacy? -- @TheMikeLawrence
A: I don't think there could be a more complicated subject to tackle in a single column than this one, because as an industry and as an art form, I think we all have a lot of complicated feelings about Stan Lee. Depending on who you ask, when you ask them and what he's been up to lately, he's a conniving credit-stealer, a shameless self-promotion machine, a "driven little man who dreams of having it all!!!" and got it by coasting on the hard work of others, or he's a charismatic innovator who got put into that spotlight because he's a natural showman, a smiling ambassador of the medium and everybody's friendly comics grandpa. And it's further complicated because you can't really talk about him without talking about collaborators like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, either.
That's what makes him hard to talk about, even if you've spent nearly your entire life being aware of him. There's just so much to get through that's filtered through so many angles, and as a result, I genuinely think that he's simultaneously the most overrated and underrated creator of all time.
It's been almost a year since The Hub and Squared Entertainment announced that they'd be producing an animated version of Stan Lee's Mighty 7, the Archie comic created by Lee, alongside writers Tony Blake and Paul Jackson, and artist Alex Saviuk.
Now, the first clip from the movie has surfaced in advance of an airing on The Hub in February. In a very meta approach, Lee stars as himself and meets the titular heroes after Archie has tasked him with creating a new superhero team. Check out the clip, which only offers a glimpse of the movie's jaw droppingly strange voice cast, after the jump.
The Android's Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop owner Jeff Albertson, the character from The Simpsons known to most as Comic Book Guy, has had his share of romances in the show's 25-year history, dating Agnes Skinner and nearly marrying Edna Krabappel.
Now, it seems he's finally found his one and only, a manga artist named Kumiko who is working on an autobiographical manga. If the screenshots (and the title) from the Jan. 12 episode, titled "Married to the Blob" are any indication, they'll be tying the knot. Check out some of those very screenshots after the jump.
Check out Monday's links after the cut.
When it comes to the holiday gift-giving season, comic book readers are notoriously difficult to shop for. I mean, most of us are down at the shop buying our favorite stuff every single week, so when the time comes for people who like us to get us something we want, well, a lot of times we already have it. That’s why we’re stepping in with a public service, bringing you comics-related items sure to make the season brighter, whether you’re browsing for a gift or just looking for something to drop hints about so that you don’t get stuck with a random assortment of back issues again.
On the off chance that you're buying a gift for someone who likes Spider-Man and rolicking, non-theatrical musicals, don't bother with that whole Broadway fiasco. Instead, grab the original Spider-Man musical from 1975, in which Doctor Octopus sings a song about finally defeating the Silver Surfer.
Stan Lee Media (which, despite its name, no longer has any association with Stan Lee) will simply not go away.
In September, a federal judge threw out the organization's lawsuit against Disney and Marvel in which it claimed ownership of many of Marvel's characters, including Spider-Man, Thor, the Hulk and the X-Men, and even barred it from re-litigating its case. And yet, Stan Lee Media has filed papers once again, this time in a Philadelphia federal court, claiming ownership of the characters.