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RIP Stan Lee, Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios
  • Stan Lee, the avuncular, controversial longtime writer and publisher of Marvel Comics, died Monday in Los Angeles. He was 95 years old.

    Popping a big character death on people like that was just the kind of thing Lee liked. “Stan Lee—dead! No! No, it can’t be!” The man who first understood that with great power there must come great responsibility? The man who alongside comics greats like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko created or co-created basically half of comic-book superhero-dom? Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, Black Panther, Thor … I could go on! Lee certainly would have.

    Working primarily with artist Jack Kirby, Lee — writing as many as a half-dozen titles or more a month — transformed Marvel Comics into a powerhouse, featuring socially relevant stories that spoke to young readers in a way the form hadn’t previously. Those works, largely created during a wildly productive stretch in the early 1960s beginning with Fantastic Four, a squabbling and at times reluctant team of superheroes, were part of what came to be known as the Silver Age of comics.

    The titles Lee authored included those featuring Spider-Man (with artist Steve Ditko), the Hulk, X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, Captain America, and the Avengers — all of which have been turned into major features.

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  • @jleo

    All other the news, sadly.

    Guy actually made so much of crap for poor children's and more grown people minds.

    Guys had been good servant of ruling class and produced just the product they asked to dump people down.

  • Alternative looks at the Marvel Universe:

    America Ate My Brain (Part One)

    Stan Lee was always a bit seedy and very much a huckster, but he knew that he was and worked it, and to a kid raised on Silver Age comics he seemed on our side, and the comics industry seemed as disconnected from the real powers of this world as its readers. ....

    Once a Marvel reader came to political consciousness, it didn't take a decoder ring to know that Lee's own leaned grievously to the right; far enough to make a costumed hero of a military industrialist, and to make his costume iron, as though his enfleshment was a weakness to be overcome, and then give him a sidekick called "War Machine." In the movie adaptation of Iron Man to be released next Spring, his origin has been updated to include a kidnapping by jihadists. Two US Air Force F-22 Raptors and a Global Hawk make supporting appearances, which "shows they really went out of their way for us"; or so director John Favreau tells it on this Youtube posting of the Air Force News Agency.

    There are a lot of monstrous metaphors available to describe America's descent from pulp fiction superhero to real world arch-villain, but perhaps the most apt is the zombie. There's the relentless and insatiable consumption of goods, fuel and lives which devours entire nations without thought or apology - Iraq's genetic future may be "for the most part destroyed" - and threatens even the viability of life on the planet. It even eats brains.

  • Alternative looks at the Marvel Universe:

    Another long-held tenet of mine is that true creativity is like a mushroom- it flourishes in damp, dark corners that are usually unsuited to more ordinary endeavors.

    Pop culture exists under a relentless Klieg light these days, and those mycological resonators often wilt under the glare. Creators such as Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft were able to flourish creatively because they had just enough of a readership to keep their work going but were also granted the luxury of relative obscurity.

    And so it was with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Marvel (then called Atlas) was a spent force in the comics business in the mid 50s and paid some of the lowest rates in town. As great a packager and salesman of ideas Stan Lee was, he didn't have much to sell or package. And his boss Martin Goodman wanted it that way.

    The artists didn't necessarily end up at Stan's door out of choice. Ditko was a young artist whose work was too ugly and weird for the big publishers and Kirby was a vet who had trouble getting work elsewhere, partly because he was seen as a has-been with an out of date style and partly because of conflicts with his editors.

    Stan wisely gave Kirby and Ditko carte blanche and allowed their fertile imaginations to run riot. In return they gave him an army of characters to take straight to the bank.

  • Fascism also relies on people who must be crushed. The Batman films -- and indeed the entire Batman mythos -- are based on the idea that what criminals really need is a damn good thrashing, because it's the only language these punks understand. The vicarious thrill in seeing Batman yell "Swear to me!" at some pitiful creep who swears to God he doesn't know anything is for the nasty-minded child in all of us: an innocent pleasure until you start to think about the politics. Always lurking in these movies, too, is the assumption that whether or not we should torture people is actually a question, surely the most obscene symptom of the cultural shift toward right-wing ideas in a liberal coating (seen also in "Homeland" and "Battlestar Galactica").

    Alan Moore attempted to bring this to our attention in his masterpiece "Watchmen," but to his chagrin it was simply absorbed into the geek mainstream. The comic book intended to question the dubious right-wing nature and unexamined fascistic assumptions of superhero narratives ended up being made into a film by Zack Snyder. Capitalism, of course, has an advantage over fascism: it has survived longer because it can incorporate criticism and pseudo-criticism. "Iron Man," for instance, begins with the premise that high-tech weaponry is indeed a Bad Thing, but its solution is that the guy who built it should have a conscience. Then its use is just cool. Just as Superman's triumph is due not to heroism but to his physical strength, the successes of Iron Man and Batman are due to their equipment.

    The superhero fantasy, in which a single person with enormous power takes on responsibility for all us weak mortals and fixes everything, is also a fantasy of fascist authoritarianism. And sure, a fundamental part of the superhero fantasy is that the superhero is too moral to abuse his power — but when fascism is selling itself, it promises never to abuse its power either. That’s part of the appeal.

  • The superhero fantasy, in which a single person with enormous power takes on responsibility for all us weak mortals and fixes everything, is also a fantasy of fascist authoritarianism.

    Western leftists are so funny. :-)

    No, it is just simple dream of small man in capitalism. Pinnacle of idealism as foundation.

  • Or, you know, some people just like to draw fantasy characters and give them crazy stories and abilities. Everything must be rooted to reality in some way, so of course you will see reference to real conflicts or historical events. Many of these characters were conceived in a very different era...

  • Or, you know, some people just like to draw fantasy characters and give them crazy stories and abilities. Everything must be rooted to reality in some way, so of course you will see reference to real conflicts or historical events.

    Some people certainly like to draw fantasy characters, but until ruling class needs it - they remain his local family or circle stuff. And characters made by this guy are certainly being used to dump people down.

  • I went through the comic book phase when I was a teenager. I got the collectors bug for a microsecond, determined that I'd never amount to anything as a buyer/seller, then quit bothering altogether by age 16. I liked Batman the most since he was a real human being. Japan's anime/mangas tend to be far superior, IMHO.

  • In Neanderthal cave paintings, stone carvings of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece , Rome, China, stories unfold like comic books. In the histories of nations, the founding fathers of the United States, Russia, China etc leaders are often depicted like superheroes against insurmountable odds and villains.

    Filmmakers like Spielberg were influenced by comic books, but many comic book artists were influenced by filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and the Theory of Montage:

    Sergei Eisenstein drawing . Beginning of The Trojan War


    Ironically, Marvel Studios movies may have destroyed movie storytelling:

    In his 2012 book, Do the Movies Have a Future?, New Yorker Magazine film critic David Denby argues that Hollywood’s many comic book adaptations are damaging the aesthetic value of film form. He maintains that in comic books “one thing happens after another, space collapses, gravity and the ground disappear, clashing forces jump at each other” (14) and films with these tendencies diminish the qualities that had made cinema an essential art form of the 20th century. He claims that the humanistic storytelling of the pre-digitalized comic book film, which required “limits, inhibitions, social conventions, a world of anticipations and outcomes, fears and consequences,” has since been victimized by the narrative tendencies of comics that drop “the preparations and the consequences of carefully worked-out plots” (67). For Denby, this visual culture of impossible imagery, with all of its digitally produced explosions and fantastical elements, oversaturates the representation of reality and results in a frustratingly simplistic cinema

    Stan Lee, the huckster/maestro who co-created the Marvel Universe with Jack Kirby, likes to say that what Marvel sold was “the illusion of change.” That’s to say, the comic books offered serialized stories where it looked like the characters were going through life-changing crises every month but somehow always reverted to the same spot. I’ve always been dissatisfied with “the illusion of change” because it robbed the stories of the finality of traditional narratives: the finality that comes with making irrevocable changes that lead to love or death.

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