About the Author:
A leading creative talent at Marvel Comics, Stan Lee helped to create some of the most iconic superheroes of all time including the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man. He has cameo appearances is dozens of movies and TV shows before dying in 2018.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
2 out of 5
Just Imagine Stan Lee With Kevin Maguire Creating The Flash
(Art by Kevin Maguire and Karl Story)
Part of a series in which Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee reimagines the origins of famous DC Comics characters. Here Mary Maxwell is injected with the DNA of a hummingbird by her scientist father and becomes The Flash. She then has to take on the villainous operatives of STEALTH.
It is very weird that the first Stan Lee-penned book I've ever read is actually one published by rival compay DC (I've read individual comics by him, but never a graphic novel). As you can expect, the book is filled with Stan Lee-isms including The Flash's somewhat silly origin (super-speed from hummingbird DNA), the moral mentor who meets an untimely Uncle Ben-esque end and, of course, the fact that the main character's name is alliterative.
Aside from the curiosity of the idea of having Lee recreate DC characters, there's actually not much to be said in this book's favour. The story is fairy shallow and obvious and very much in the style of 1960s comic book stories. Seeing Lee write in the idiom of his golden period doesn't so much kick off feelings of nostaglia as it does remind you of just how far comic book storytelling has come on since then.
2 out of 5
The Spectacular Spider-Man: "Lo This Monster!"
(Art by John Romita, Larry Lieber, Jim Mooney and Bill Everett)
The first of Marvel's full-length, magazine format books from the 1960s. Here Spider-Man finds himself fighting a huge, super-strong monster of a man who seems to have a grudge against upcoming politician Richard Raleigh. However, whilst everyone else seems enamoured of Raleigh, the Wall Crawler soon begins to suspect there is more going on than meets the eye.
Once again, reading this book in the 21st Century serves to remind the reader of just how far comics have come as a medium since the 1960s. Back then all they had to do was deliver a few wisecracks, a few BOFF! POW! action scenes and tie things up neatly at the end. Unfortunately, I, like many other readers, I would assume, look for more from comic books these days than that. So, to go back to a book from that bygone and legendary age of comic book storytelling is always going to be pretty disappointing. The simple truth is that there is no subtlety or complexity to this book and, rather than the images speaking for themselves, every character has to exposit exactly what is going on at any given moment. It's just not that good.
As much as I love Stan Lee (RIP) as a creative visionary and as the king of cameos, his comic book scripting is, in hindsight, both safe and obvious. Also his love of alliteration is at its worst here without a single page passing that doesn't feature some dialogue along the lines of "... Richard Raleigh, the crusading candidate!". It becomes very irritating, very fast.
If there is one thing that it's worth reading this book for, it's to see just how much of a bitch Mary Jane is towards Gwen Stacy. Jealous much?
2 out of 5