It's kind of weird that I remember where I was when I learned that Stan Lee had died. I was in downtown Pittsburgh on a cold night, working as an extra on a Seth Rogan movie. I opened a news app on my phone and saw the headline. I thought to myself, "should I tell Seth Rogan?" He was right next to me and I figured that he would probably want to know, but I kept it to myself, which was probably the smart thing to do (I've never spoken to Seth Rogan).
Anyway, after Lee passed, Marvel hosted a memorial of sorts at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York in early October of 2019, almost a year later. This invite-only event was attended by folks from the comics industry, and of course by different celebrities and other people who worked for Disney in some fashion. It was quite the who's who.
Among the items that attendees received at this celebration was a "Marvel Celebrates Stan Lee" comic book, which I suppose was very fitting. This book was never reprinted and soon became a very sought-after item on the secondary market. In 2019 and '20, it was going for so much that I wrote it off as something that I would never get my hands on, even though, ugh, the Thing was on the cover, standing right on top of the Hulk, no less, along with the rest of the Fantastic Four and many other popular Marvel characters.
I've kept an eye out for the book ever since, though, and a copy appeared on eBay recently for a price that was good enough for that I couldn't pass up. The comic arrived recently, and I thought I'd share a look with all of the many, many people who read this very important comic book blog. Let's take a peek.
Here's the aforementioned cover, with art by Adam Kubert. I don't know if this was repurposed art from something else, but I've never seen it used before. Many of Lee's most famous co-creations join him on the cover. I'm glad that the entire FF made the cut, as they should have.
The inside front cover has the date and location of the event. The cover logo is, of course, a repurposed Spider-Man logo.
The book starts out with an introduction by then-Chief Creative Office Joe Quesada. The book is packed with remembrances from both Marvel and Disney luminaries.
There are two comic reprints in this issue. The first is the first chapter from 1961's Fantastic Four #1. This was just after Marvel had lifted their self-imposed FF embargo. There's a not-insignificant gap in Marvel's publishing history around this time that lacks most mentions of the team, so including this, the most important book in Marvel's publishing history, in this book was a relief to me.
The cover is reprinted, also, but not the entire first issue.
The book also has a number of images from when Stan was depicted in different comics. Here's one reprinting the cover from What If...? #11. On the other page, we see some pictures of Stan and a message from Marvel Studio's Kevin Feige.
This was an interesting spread. This highlighted some of Stan's career and personal achievements. The 2018 entry remarks, "our hallowed hero embarks on his final adventure."
The other comic reprint is the first chapter from 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man. I thought that they could've also made room for Stan's first published work, a short text piece from an early Captain America Comics.
The book is a nice, thoughtful tribute to Stan Lee that maybe lacks some of the bombast that I might have expected. There certainly was an emphasis on the television and movie side of things that I suppose was inevitable, but those who put this book together thankfully didn't forget the comic book roots of the media empire that Marvel has since become.
The book ends with a 1967 Stan's Soapbox that looks like it was scanned from an original issue.
Here's the inside back cover, with art by Terry Dodson.
This back cover portrait by Phil Noto was used in all of Marvel's tribute books that came out directly after Lee's death, usually with the colors inverted, for some reason.
I'm really glad to get a chance to actually flip through this book. It's a nice memorial for someone who helped make Marvel what it is today - and it doesn't forget the comics. I hope you enjoyed seeing inside, too!