Stan Lee's Legacy: Villain or Hero?

Or maybe a little of both? Vulture digs in with a profile
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2016 11:49 AM CST
Stan Lee's Legacy: Villain or Hero?
Stan Lee is 93 and will leave behind a complicated legacy.   (AP Photo/Starpix, Marion Curtis)

How somebody feels about Stan Lee might depend on how deep their knowledge of the comic book industry goes, and Abraham Riesman digs into this complicated legacy in a profile at Vulture. On the one hand, the 93-year-old Lee is arguably "the single most significant author of the pop-culture universe in which we all now live." After all, he helped bring Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, and countless others into the world decades ago at Marvel Comics, then had to fight in the courts to get at least a share of the credit and money he felt was his due when these franchises exploded in popularity. The general consensus in this version: Lee is a creative genius who was wronged by corporate greed. The problem, though, is that "a growing scholarly consensus has concluded that Lee didn’t do everything he said he did," writes Riesman.

As more diehard fans surely know, Lee is accused of taking too much credit for the Marvel phenoms at the expense of two former collaborators, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Essentially, they say Lee slapped his name on their work, and the story provides plenty of details on views from both sides. Riesman himself ends up conflicted about the man he has long revered, but finds himself in agreement with an assessment by Lee's friends and colleagues interviewed in the story. Lee accomplished "so much" but wants to claim credit for even more. "We understand that he erred, but that only forces us to try harder to understand him and see the man in full." Still, writes Riesman, "he’s put too much love and joy into the world—into my world—for me to even come close to deriding him." Click to read the full profile. (More Stan Lee stories.)

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