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Ignore the rather pitiful review from the writer who takes rather a lot on themself by claiming that all comic fans (and "Star Trek" fans as well) want is to hide from the awful attentions of the "mainstream" (i.e.; the real world), and be left alone. Having spent much of my life as a comics/SF/fantasy enthusiast,I can testify that many of them take great comfort in the idea that they are special, persecuted, and somewhat beyond the comprehension of non-fans, the "mainstream", and other people they conceive of as "outsiders". Well, they're not. This book is in no way, shape, or form "tabloid journalism" as claimed, but an excellent and thought-provoking examination of a pivotal, highly creative, yet slightly ambiguous figure in pop-culture. Lee's talent and influence are nowhere denied by the authors, and yet it's hard not to be a little uncomfortable with the efficiency with which he wound up assuming virtually all credit for creating a lot of hugely profitable superheroes that were, pretty clearly, co-created and plotted by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. I've never really thought that Stan deliberately hogged the glory; It's just that he was so effusive, so outgoing and personable, whereas Kirby and the extremely private Ditko were not, that fans just sort of gravitated toward the idea that Stan was the mastermind. He could certainly have done more to dispel this notion, but it was good for business, and having seen Stan give a lecture once in the early 70's, I can bear witness to the fact that the audience regarded him as almost a holy object. It can be awfully hard to make yourself contradict complete adulation. The result was that Kirby and Ditko were, for years, relegated to the status of simple illustrators, drawing the pictures that brought to life what we all presumed were Lee's great imaginative visions, rather than as the indispensible creative forces that they were.Read Jack Kirby's immediate pre-Marvel CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN stories, compare them to the early FANTASTIC FOUR, then tell me who you think deserves the most credit for the FF.This very readable book does a very fine job of covering the life of the man,without either worshipping or denigrating him unfairly, but using Lee as a prism through which the history of the "silver age" of comics is viewed. And it's a lot of fun, as well. Far from crawling into a hole and asking to be "let alone", I say, "more please".
Incidentally, if you're interested in the subject of the history of the modern comic book, I can highly recommend THE COMIC BOOK HEROES, by Jones and Jacobs, a terrifically readable behind-the-scenes history of above-ground comics from the beginnings of the silver age. But, be careful to pick up the large,revised and updated version; it's almost completely rewritten from the original 80's version, which pulls most of its punches. The revised edition is the one with the behind-the-scenes coverage; you know: the stuff that the publishers like to publicly pretend never happened.