The Marvelous Mr. Lee
Comic book “king” STAN LEE passed away on Nov. 12, age 95. He was born STANLEY MARTIN LIEBER in Manhattan, the son of poor Rumanian Jewish immigrants. He had one sibling, LARRY LIEBER, now 87, who was an important comic book artist and comic creator in his own right. Stan got a menial job with Timely Comics (later Marvel) in 1939. In 1941, he got the chance to write a little text for a comic and choose "Stan Lee" as his pen name. He said: “I changed it because I felt someday I’d be writing the Great American Novel and I didn’t want to use my real name on these silly little comics.”
By the time he went into the army, in 1942, he was an interim editor and had created several comic characters. He somewhat coasted through the ‘50s, writing comic books in all genres (Western, romance, etc). Then, in 1961, his publisher wanted to move back strongly into superhero characters and Lee decided to “go for broke” and create a whole universe of new comic characters that were more like ordinary people. He and his creative partner, JACK KIRBY (1917-1994), began what has been called the “Marvel Revolution” with the “Fantastic Four.” This was quickly followed by the creation of “The Hulk”, “Thor”, “Iron Man”, “Spiderman”, “Captain America” and “Black Panther.”
“Black Panther” was the first superhero black character and throughout the “Marvel Universe” there was a strong ethos emphasizing the equality and dignity of all people.
Lee became publisher of Marvel in 1971. He was never a great businessman and in the late ‘70s he was “kicked upstairs” and became the public relations face of Marvel. Literally billions came to know Lee’s face from his cameos in the many recent films featuring Marvel characters. Many of the stars of those films paid tribute to Lee. Hugh Jackman (“Wolverine” in ”X-Men”) said: “He’s a creative genius, he thought outside the box, he created a whole universe, he changed the lives of many people, mine included.”
Veterans’ Day Notes: Catch-Up
Not long before the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI (Nov. 11, 2018), Australia opened a center in France to honor the Aussie and New Zealand troops (called “ANZACs”) who fought in France during WWI. The center is named after Sir JOHN MONASH (1885-1931). Here is a brief Monash bio: the son of German Jewish immigrants, he became head of all ANZAC troops in 1917. He brilliantly led the ANZACs to major victories using innovative tactics. Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather, King George V, greatly admired Monash and he knighted him in 1918. He was the first soldier to be knighted on the battlefield in 200 years.
If you want more, watch, on Youtube, the very good Aussie TV film: “The Forgotten ANZAC: John Monash”. The film deftly weaves expert commentary with dramatic re-creations of Monash’s life during WWI. The title is misleading: Monash is hardly forgotten. A major Australian university bears his name and he is on the Aussie $100 dollar bill. However, just like most Americans don’t know, today, that General Pershing was the WWI American chief general, many Aussies don’t know much about Monash. Weird detail in the film: the father of Rupert Murdoch, Aussie journalist Keith Murdoch, was an enemy of Monash. Keith lost that battle.
Three Jewish Democrats, with military ties, were just elected to Congress. They all “flipped” a district. Two are veterans: MAX ROSE, 31 of Staten Island, NY (Army soldier; he saw combat in Afghanistan and received the Bronze medal and Purple Heart) and ELAINE LURIA, 43, of Norfolk, VA (Navy Commander). Also worthy of note: DEAN PHILLIPS, 49, of Deephaven, MN. His army captain (Jewish) father died in combat in Vietnam when he was a baby. His Jewish mother re-married a wealthy Jewish distiller, who adopted him. His adoptive grandma was columnist PAULINE PHILLIPS (AKA “Dear Abby”). Dean worked in the distillery business until his adoptive father died. Then he struck out on his own and now is the biggest gelato maker in America.
The original Bravo limited series, “Dirty John,” premieres on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 10PM. The series is based on a very popular 2017 podcast of the same name. It’s a true crime story about Debra, a 50ish, successful woman who marries “Mr. Wrong.” It takes Debra a long time to believe the dirt her adult daughters’ find on John, her husband. One of the daughters, Terra, is played by JULIA GARNER, 24 (“Ozark”). Everything builds to a shocking conclusion.