Summary: This book is all about how the foundation to the empire that is Marvel comics began. Howe (the author) talks about how the infamous Stan Lee and Jack Kirby started Marvel back in the 40’s. For a time it was Timely Comics, not Marvel, but that changed later on. Slowly but surely, Lee and Kirby amassed a company so large and favored by many that Marvel comics became a HUGE deal.
Howe speculates on how ‘The Fantastic Four’ jump started Marvel, rocketing them into popularity with their colorful personas and eye-catching powers. Soon followed some of the most popular and fan favorites today: Captain America-who at the time had been a HUGE presence for the US during WW2 as an icon to encourage the troops to defeat Nazi Germany and to provide a character for the children at home to look up to. The X-Men were representative of the 60’s/70’s battle against discrimination, to show the hatred being pressed against those not of the white race through the fear regular humans had against mutants, people who were DIFFERENT from them. It was a perfect representation of the wrongdoings at the time. Spiderman, a Stan Lee ICON, became a relatable, loved character by adolescents EVERYWHERE.
The whole book emulates how Marvel became a huge part of US pop culture and how their characters reflected social issues and related to people across the country. How the stories, through cinema and colorful paper packets made a lasting impact on millions throughout the world.
Evaluation: I personally loved this book. Comic books are very close to my heart in the way that they spread positivity and creative influence, so reading about how an empire that exhibits those qualities with some of my favorite stories was enlightening. Especially seeing a little of the behind the scenes when it came to Kirby and Lee.
Rating: 5 Stars 🙂
Recommendations: Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book by Jordan Raphael, Excelsior! : The Amazing Life of Stan Lee by Stan Lee and George Mair, & Marvel Firsts: WWII Super Heroes by Bill Everett (one of 8 co-authors).