| Book Review 'Marvel Comics: The Untold Story' by Sean Howe |
A wild-ride history of the company's creation from the people who built it, including the mad genius Stan Lee
Those who know Marvel mainly in its current incarnation as the Disney-owned pop-culture juggernaut — since 2008's Iron Man, Marvel movies have grossed more than $2 billion worldwide — will find it hard to connect that statistic with the motley crew of artists and writers behind such iconic figures as Spider-Man and Iron Man that Sean Howe vividly captures in his new history of the company.
In tracing Marvel's story from its origins as a pulp magazine publisher founded by Martin Goodman in 1933 through its alternating decades of boom and bust and onto its acquisition by Disney in 2009, Howe introduces a cast of characters that includes Captain America creator Joe Simon, the inventive and prickly Jack Kirby, the dour but brilliant Steve Ditko and cerebral Chris Claremont, who transformed the second-tier X-Men into a hit.
At the center of this freewheeling carnival was Stan Lee, whom Howe reveals as a combination of Budd Schulberg's Sammy Glick and Mark Twain, who mixed the immigrant hunger for success with a uniquely American gift for tall-tale telling. If Stan Lee didn't exist, Marvel Comics would have had to invent him. continue
by Andy Lewis