I Am Stan: A Graphic Biography of the Legendary Stan Lee

Ten Speed: Crown. Sept. 2023. 208p. ISBN 9781984862020. $28.99. BIOG
Biographies of Stan Lee tend to fall into two categories: fawning tributes that portray him as a visionary genius whose work is only comparable to the great epics of antiquity, or searing excoriations accusing him of being a craven, cold-hearted hack whose only joy in life came from denying others credit for their work. How refreshing, then, to discover that Scioli’s follow-up to Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics avoids reducing Lee to a one-dimensional caricature by deliberately highlighting his mercurial nature. Through a succession of tightly crafted scenes, none more than a single page long, Scioli depicts Lee as driven by a pure desire to create meaningful art yet totally obsessed with increasing profits; sincerely dedicated to building Marvel Comics into a worldwide success while eagerly pursuing opportunities to leave the company behind; capable of lavishing his collaborators with praise while also downplaying their contributions to the work they created together; and as complicated and sometimes frustratingly contradictory, but ultimately not more so than most people are.
VERDICT Scioli has created the most compelling and layered portrait of Lee to date. A brilliant achievement.
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