BIOGRAPHY

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee

Crown. Feb. 2021. 416p. ISBN 9780593135716. $28. BIOG
COPY ISBN
Journalist Riesman details the life of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee (1922–2018). Born Stanley Lieber to Jewish immigrants, Lee became editor of Timely Comics at the age of 18. He rose to fame in the 1960s with the creation of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers. Riesman, however, casts doubt on these characters’ origins, giving primary credit to Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and other artists. Despite his success, Lee remained indifferent and embarrassed by his comics work, attempting to escape the industry for other publishing and film opportunities. After leaving Marvel, Lee presented a public-facing caricature of himself in movies and at comic cons. In reality, his life had become turbulent. Riesman explains how Stan Lee Media and POW! Entertainment were questionable business ventures with a history of fraud and mismanagement. He also tells how, following his wife’s death in 2016, Lee’s daughter and others controlled his money and brand, while Lee experience−der abuse and depression.
VERDICT Covering similar ground as 2019’s A Marvelous Life, this work by Riesman provides additional insight into Lee’s family dynamic and details about Lee’s business associates. For comics and Stan Lee fans looking for a critical take on this cultural icon.
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