Danny Fingeroth, an award-winning Marvel Comics writer and editor, gives us a beautifully written biography in A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee.
Spider-Man. The Fantastic Four. X-Men. The Avengers. The list goes on and on when it comes to the many comic books co-created by Stan Lee and the likes of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
There are the people who came to know Stan Lee by way of his many cameos in the Marvel films based on his characters. In other instances, there those who were there at the start of the Marvel Age of comics. No matter the case, Fingeroth’s book offers an insightful look at Lee’s lifetime from beginning to end. When he died, a world of people offered tributes and essays. Myself included.
Because Fingeroth worked with him at the Marvel offices, he’s privy to his own share of stories. As such, there are times where he takes off his author’s hat and interjects where needed. This book benefits from Fingeroth’s interviews with colleagues, family, friends, and the Wyoming archives. Not to mention the man himself. There’s material in this book that none of us have ever even seen before!
When it comes to the creation of the Marvel Universe, Stan Lee just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Here’s a man who was working in comics and all he wanted to do was write the Great American Novel. As any working writer would want to do, of course. Lee’s cousin, Martin Goodman, owned then-Timely Comics and the company almost ceased to exist. Suddenly, things started to change as the saw what National Comics was doing with DC: the formation of the Justice League. This led to Lee and Kirby creating the Fantastic Four. The rest is history.
If there’s an area in which A Marvelous Life goes in-depth on, it’s the relationship with Jack Kirby and to an extent, Steve Ditko. When it comes to comics, Lee and Kirby are the equivalent of The Beatles. There’s no other way to say this. Their relationship isn’t the easiest to describe. The two co-created a lot of characters during their time together at Marvel. Sometimes–as Danny Fingeroth reminded me–the media did get it wrong when it came to interviews and left out some of the pertinent information.
A Marvelous Life takes us behind the scenes and tells us the amazing story of Stan Lee’s life.