Overview

Stan Lee Meets the Amazing Spider-Man

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Stan Lee Meets the Amazing Spider-Man

Credits

  • Words: Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, and Fred Hembeck
  • Art: Olivier Coipel, Michael Gaydos, Fred Hembeck, et. al.
  • Inks: Mark Morales, Michael Gaydos, et. al
  • Colors: Jose Villarrubia, Pete Pantazis, Bill Crabtree, et. al.
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Sep 27, 2006

For 65 years one Stanley Martin Lieber has been associated with Marvel Comics. Now Marvel celebrates with a special series of comics that focus on "Stan the Man" Lee.

Like all human beings, there are good things and bad things about Stanley Lieber. The thing is that Stanley Lieber long ago created a character – a caricature of himself. Stan Lee is already a kind of comic book character as much as any of those he created. It is that face, the mask of Stan Lee that appears and is celebrated here. Also, no matter what else, Lee is one of the few remaining Silver Age legends left living. Stan Lee Meets the Amazing Spider-Man is a throwback to those days when it was okay to occasionally throw an insane comic book story out there and let it fly...

In the titular opening story, penned by Stan Lee, Spider-Man comes to Stan Lee for some serious advice. It seems that everyone’s favorite webslinger is sick and tired of duking it out with supervillans day after day and getting scorn instead of thanks. Spidey is thinking about throwing in the towel! Only Stan Lee has any hope of talking him out of it and saving the future of Spider-Man.

In the second story "Some Steves" writer Joss Whedon takes readers to an Interdimensional Comicon, where people of alternate Earths come for all things comic booky. One man, Steve, meets two of his selves from other Earths and gets a look at what Marvel comic books look like from dimensions where there was no Stan Lee! Faced with such a horrible prospect, "Steve" scours the comicon, searching for Stan Lee written comic books from other dimensions. What he finds is something a lot more...

Third up are two pages written and drawn by the always irreverent and irrepressible Fred Hembeck. In this story Hembeck writes himself into the action in order to actually meet Stan Lee. Along the way he meets a couple of other minor characters that have their own problems.

Finally, the comic rounds up with a reprinting of the Stan Lee classic Amazing Spider-Man #87: "Unmasked at Last". This story has the added benefit of the always-celebrated John Romita Sr. on art.

Yeah, okay, but does it work? Surprisingly...yes. Lee, Kirby, Ditko and others had a tendency to throw themselves into the comic book stories for occasional wacky fun in the past and this issue hearkens back to that. These guys were doing metatextual before anyone really knew what the word was. Here, as in the past, Lee uses the metatextual trappings to poke fun at himself and the industry. Tongue firmly planted in cheek. Hats must go off as well to penciler Olivier Coipel who turns in a psychedelic 70’s tour-de-force. His trippy visuals swing from cartoony to far-out and back.

As for Whedon’s story, I was a little disappointed, I admit. It was an interesting idea and certainly the samples of "other dimensional comics" were amusing but, in the end, the payoff just seemed a wee bit fawning. Michael Gaydos, however, turns in an exceptionally good job on the pencils. In the past I’ve found Gaydos’ work to be a little too heavy on the inks, which caused details to be lost. Here he has lightened up his inks and everyone comes through clear and sharp. He wins extra credit points for capturing Stan Lee’s facial expressions and gestures as well.

Then there is Fred Hembeck. I will confess to a bias here... I love Hembeck. His bouncy, cartoony style and tendency for broad humor and unabashed puns always leaves me with a smile. Anytime there is some fresh Hembeck to be seen I am a happy camper.

Finally, there is the classic tale. A story of a time when Spider-Man let slip his secret identity to the woman he loved and frantically had to put the genie back in the bottle. The implications of why this story was chosen at this time are obvious – about as obvious as the Silver Age, heavy-handed dialogue. Anyone unfamiliar with Marvel’s Silver Age style will probably find this story painted with too broad of strokes. The dialogue is pretty stilted by modern standards, as is the story itself. The thing is, a story such as this cannot (and should not) be judged by modern standards. At the time it was as sharp as anything out on the stands. Besides that fact, it illustrates a key piece in the long and rich history of the character – Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, Harry Osborn – all of these characters would go on to play dramatic roles in comic book history. Also, even if the Silver Age dialogue is a little tarnished by the years, John Romita Sr.’s artwork still shines like gold.

Stan Lee Meets the Amazing Spider-Man is a loving tribute, a smile and a laugh for a man who has become a living legend. Stan Lee has been bringing fun into people’s lives for 65 years and counting. It doesn’t look like he has any intention of stopping here.

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