A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee

St. Martin’s. Nov. 2019. 400p. notes. ISBN 9781250133908. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250133915. BIOG
Fingeroth (Superman on the Couch) chronicles the eight-decade career of comics legend Stan Lee (1922–2018). Born Stanley Lieber, Lee became editor at Timely Comics, later renamed Marvel, at age 18 through family connections to publisher Martin Goodman. Lee’s complex relationships with artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko are at this biography’s core. In the 1960s, they collaborated to create enduring pop culture icons, including Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. Lee portrayed these superheroes as characters struggling through their own failures and flaws. He also built a relationship with Marvel’s readership through his Marvel Bullpen Bulletin. Stepping away from writing and editing in the 1980s and 1990s, Lee sought to bring Marvel properties to Hollywood, with limited success. Legal issues and controversy followed Lee as Kirby and Ditko sought credit and compensation for their cocreations. Continuing to work into his 90s, making cameo appearances in Marvel movies, which turned him into a cultural icon, Lee fought hard against comics censorship in the 1950s. The work further explores Marvel’s bankruptcy in the 1990s and other industry issues.
VERDICT A high-demand biography for fans of Lee and Marvel comics.

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