Kate and Dan watch WITH GREAT POWER…The Stan Lee Story

We have frequently referred to Stan “The Man” Lee in our comic reviews. He is the founder and powerhouse behind Marvel Comics. He created Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, The X-Men, The Hulk, and countless other comic book icons. In an effort to learn more about this comic book living legend, we sat down in front of the Netflix machine to watch the documentary With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story.

Kate: ::marching around the house, singing:: I belong. I belong. I belong in the Merry Marvel Marching Society!

Dan: What are you doing now?

K: I was so knocked out by Stan, The Man, Lee that I’ve decided to run off and join the Merry Marvel Marching Society.

D: Um…the MMMS was around in the 60’s and I think it’s been disbanded since then. Also, it was more of a mail-in membership thing. But I’m totally picking up the vibe you’re laying down.

K: Are you now, Hip Cat?

D: Dig it. What Stan did was make himself into the first ever “Rock Star” comic book creator. Marvel wasn’t the first comics company, but they were the first company to make comics the Marvel Way.

K: How d’ya mean?

D: Well, you know how in the documentary they talk about how Stan seemed to talk right to the fans? Remember, there wasn’t any iPhones or Twitter or Facebook back then. Today you can, and we do, communicate with comic writers and artists. And it’s awesome, right?

K: Hell yeah, it is! ::Sets fire to latest restraining order::

D: But back then, that charm and humanity came through in Stan’s Soapbox column, in his Bullpen Bulletin column, and in the way he answered fan letters in the letters page at the back of the comics. Plus, and this is a biggie, if a character referenced an event that took place in a past issue, or in another book altogether, Stan would put little editor’s notes at the bottom of the panel telling you where that event took place. He would sign off as “Smiling Stan.” Your buddy Stan wanted anybody to pick up any issue of the magazine at any time, and KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON.

That is how you get new readers: by making accessible books.

K: And it’s a great way to sell more books.

D: And it’s a great way to sell more books.

K: I think I’m getting it now. Stan was able to bring his own sense of personality to his comics. In a way, not only were you reading a Spider-Man story, but you’re reading a story written by a guy who was inviting you into his special-fun-time-club.

D: Yup. Just not quite in that creepy phrasing, but yup.

K: I liked how they talked about Stan moving out the Hollywood and making cartoons. You know, like those cartoons you’re always watching. But they sure looked… primitive.

D: Hey, they were products of their time. I was a Saturday morning cartoons kinda kid. SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS was my jam. In fact, I was pretty bummed when I found out Spider-Man didn’t hang out regularly with Iceman and Firestar in the comics.

K: ::snore choke, startled, falls off chair:: WHOWHAT?! Were you droning on about cartoons again?

D: The point is, Stan reached new fans from the comics AND the cartoons, more than 20 years before he brought X-Men to the big screen.

K: And when you see him walking the red carpet at these mega-Marvel-movie events, the energy from his Soap Box columns comes through in person! It’s that enthusiasm and his love of his work that makes him truly The Man.