Book Review, Books!, Graphic Novel, Inspiration, Signal Boost

Review: Amazing Fantastic Incredible – A Marvelous Memoir

Hey all, Dani here.

The great Stan Lee passed away on Monday, November 12, and I have been pretty much a mess since then. I curled up on the couch and cried. I scrolled through social media and read all the posts and comments, and looked at wonderful fan art from people’s memories or experiences with Stan. And then I went into my library, pulled this book down, and hugged it to my chest for an hour or so while my fiance and I watched TV.

On Tuesday, my Facebook memories revealed that I had actually read this memoir exactly two years earlier. A quick browse on the blog revealed that I had never actually done a review. So I sat down after work and read the book over again.

Before I jump into the review, I need to talk about my experience with Stan Lee. I feel fortunate in that I got to meet him twice. The first time I could only manage to get his autograph. This was a few years ago, and he looked so old and frail even then. But he was still pretty spirited. As he was signing his photo for me, I told him “Thank you very much,” and he replied in his adorable old man voice “You’re welcome very much.” He was just such a sweet old man, and he was honestly there because he loves his fans.

Then he was the featured guest at Cincinnati Comic Expo in 2016, and I knew I had to get a photo with him. It was so worth the long long wait in line.

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Stan Lee’s creations have been such a big part of my life. My first fandoms were pretty much Power Rangers and X-Men. My geekery has only expanded since those days. Now I’m into so very many superheroes, many of whom are popular today because of Stan. He created some and took over others. His characterizations and his ideas have honestly been an inspiration to me. I have looked forward to seeing his cameos every time I go to the movies to see the latest Marvel superhero movie. And I think there are still a couple more cameos that we’ll get to see. But I knew that he was getting old, and I knew that someday in the near future, we of the geek community would go to the movies and there would be no more cameos. That instead we would get text that would say “In Loving Memory of Stan Lee.” He was 95 years old; obviously he couldn’t live forever. Thankfully his stories will continue on.

But I’m still sad right now. (Also, the universe had better protect Betty White for at least a few more years.) Anyway, thank you for all of the great characters and the great stories, Mr. Lee. Excelsior!

Okay, thanks for listening to me. Let’s jump into the review now.

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Summary

In this gorgeously illustrated, full-color graphic memoir, Stan Lee—comic book legend and cocreator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Incredible Hulk, and a legion of other Marvel superheroes—shares his iconic legacy and the story of how modern comics came to be.

Stan Lee is a man who needs no introduction. The most legendary name in the history of comic books, he has been the leading creative force behind Marvel Comics, and has brought to life—and into the mainstream—some of the world’s best-known heroes and most infamous villains throughout his career. His stories—filled with superheroes struggling with personal hang-ups and bad guys who possessed previously unseen psychological complexity—added wit and subtlety to a field previously locked into flat portrayals of good vs. evil. Lee put the human in superhuman and in doing so, created a new mythology for the twentieth century.

In this beautifully illustrated graphic memoir—illustrated by celebrated artist Colleen Doran—Lee tells the story of his life with the same inimitable wit, energy, and offbeat spirit that he brought to the world of comics. Moving from his impoverished childhood in Manhattan to his early days writing comics, through his military training films during World War II and the rise of the Marvel empire in the 1960s to the current resurgence in movies, Amazing Fantastic Incredible documents the life of a man and the legacy of an industry and career.

This funny, moving, and incredibly honest memoir is a must-have for collectors and fans of comic books and graphic novels of every age.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

Okay, so when I read this last year I gave it a 4 star rating. Obviously considering my mental/emotional state right now, my second read-through is a 5 star rating. But for honesty’s sake, I’m leaving the rating as 4 stars.

I absolutely adored the fact that this memoir was written in a comic book style. It made it such a quick book to read through. And it is filled with details about Stan’s life and career and more. It was great to see the inclusion of narrator Stan breaking the fourth wall to speak to the readers, and it was amusing to watch narrator Stan interact with his younger self as he was telling little stories about his life. It was so meta, but I greatly enjoyed it.

Yes, I realize that there is some controversy around Stan Lee because he was so often given all of the credit for the comics, instead of the artists also being acknowledged. And Stan mentions that in this book, and he gives credit to several of the artists he had the privilege to work with over the years.

Much like the characters he created or wrote about, he was not perfect. But you know what, none of us are. But it was so cool to see how he kept pressing forward, and kept thinking and imagining and creating and writing. Seeing how he changed the rules for the superhero stories and comic book publishing in general was just super interesting to me.

I just think that this was a fascinating read. I’m glad that I sat down and read through this again.

Where to Buy

You should be able to pick up a copy of this memoir from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

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