A MARVELOUS LIFE: THE AMAZING STORY OF STAN LEE / AUTHOR: DANNY FINGEROTH / PUBLISHER: SIMON & SCHUSTER UK / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
With Marvel Comics and movies now ruling the world of pop culture, it should come as no surprise that its main spokesman, Stan Lee, has become something of a legend. The larger than life figure is generally seen as the source of Marvel’s most well-known and beloved works. When Lee passed away recently, it seemed that the whole world mourned.
A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee is an energetic and joy-filled look at Marvel’s most celebrated employee. This biography has been put together by Danny Fingeroth, another chap who happened to work at Marvel for a while, and as such knew Lee from the ‘70s, to the ‘90s. Though the book begins with a fair bit of hyperbole, it levels out pretty quickly. As funny as it is to chide the reader for thinking that Lee’s greatest achievement was his many cameos, this sort of approach gets old fast and is thankfully abandoned early on.
It’s a comprehensive and very kind look at Lee’s life. We do get a solid perspective on the impact Lee had on the lives of those he worked with and this work sticks to the facts. It is however, meant to be about Lee’s life (rather than his colleagues), so it does feel in parts that more interesting takes on the man’s influence are skimmed over. The biography paints Lee as a victor in the American Dream. Someone who worked hard and through charisma, creative spirit and the ability to encourage the best out of others, was able to forge one a modern mythology for the space age.
Fingeroth is an academic these days and it shows in this biography. Though sharp and loving, the book does feel quite ‘text-book’ in places. Many passages feel like they would easily stand alone and the informed yet informal style straddles the boundary between entertaining and educating. We flit between facts and anecdotes. They are many well researched insights here and the book is crammed with quotes.
Stan Lee lived a rich and full live, and had many ups and downs though out. The book focuses mostly on his career, which makes sense as the author is more familiar with the professional side of Stan Lee than is private life. It’s a fascinating (and motivating) insight to someone who became the embodiment of fannish excitement and storytelling. It’s hardly comprehensive but it is an engaging read, which makes it a fitting tribute. One for the True Believers and curious nerds.