Don Heck – A Tribute

I grew up in a small town, and while not quite as small as the fictional “Mayberry” of Andy Griffith fame… one of the main hangouts of my dad and his pals was the Barber Shop.

It was called “Harry’s”, and if not for a small wicker basket tucked into a corner, it would have been the last place in the world I’d have liked to hang out. Now don’t get me wrong, my father and his cronies did have some funny stories to tell about glory days, but you can only get a kick out of them so many times before you’re relegated to a polite smile.

Though that corner was polluted with age old hair clippings never swept up… it was my salvation. The wicker basket had all sorts of literature inside. Time, Look, Life, years old local papers, and the like. Nothing for a curious little boy until I did some digging.

At the bottom were the only two comic books in the basket. A beat up but complete copy of Avengers #6, and a coverless (but otherwise complete) copy of Avengers #15.

 

These were the first two comic books I’d ever seen, and they were fantastic! These were from the prime of “The Marvel Age of Comics” and I devoured every single panel they had to offer.

Stan Lee was in his brash prime and the creativity was practically oozing from the prematurely brown and wrinkled pages. This was the early 1970’s, and the comics were only about ten years old… but they did not have the benefits their descendants would have. No poly bags, let alone hard plastic slabs. No, these comics lived hard.

The art in both issues was amazing as well. The illustrative chores on #6 were handled by the legendary Jack “King” Kirby and his frequent collaborator Chic Stone. The dynamic pictures literally jumped out at you as if it were drawn in 3-D. This issue featured the formation of “The Masters of Evil”… and boy were they bad! The epitome of evil for a young lad such as myself.

In this issue we found out that the man responsible for Bucky’s death was still around and he was angry that his arch nemesis, Captain America, was recently discovered alive. In response to this news, he formed a powerful group of baddies to attack Captain America and his allies, The Avengers.

Everything in this issue could be described as, well… BIG. Stone’s thick line over Kirby’s pencils exaggerated even the King’s bold storytelling, while Lee’s dialogue seemed to this youngster, the most dramatic telling of events ever written!

The outcome of the battle carried a slight edge to the good guys, but it left room for the dreaded villains to return.

What happened in between issues# 6 and #15, I would not find out for at least a decade later. There were no comic shops or shows where I could dig up back issues. In fact the very cover to #15 would remain a mystery to me for years to come. But what I did know was that a rematch was happening in #15… and it would be a rematch to the death.

Again, this issue had no cover so I was greeted by a splash page featuring a decidedly more quiet design. It featured no punching, no flying, no airborne debris, in fact no action of any kind.

But boy was it dramatic! Here’s Thor acting as chairman declaring, “Now, by my hand, shall die a villain!” Stan was dealing, and though I didn’t know it at the time, the DC heroes sure didn’t talk that way. This was the Marvel way… and it was good.

 

 

 

The art on this page and every other in the book was somehow more quiet than its predecessor, yet every bit as dynamic. Here the illustrations were by the team of Don Heck and Mike Esposito.

Away from DC and longtime partner Ross Andru, we find Esposito here for a cup of coffee but clearly relishing his assignment. As implied above, this was not the standard fare he was used to.

Heck on the other hand was already a Marvel super-star. As a matter of fact throughout the period, Lee himself often referred to Heck as one of his best artists. You need not look any further than books like ‘Fantasy Masterpieces’ #1, where on the cover Lee boasted of fantasy stories by “… your favorite Marvel artists…” including Kirby, Steve Ditko, Joe Sinnott, Dick Ayers, and of course, Heck. In later years, I believe it was the fine writer Tony Isabella who proclaimed, “If there was a Mount Rushmore of early Marvel, Don Heck would be on it.”

At the time of course, I knew none of this. All I knew is the magic I held in my hands. The story was incredible, it was the rarest of products in Lee’s hyped world of bombastic promotion… it was better than advertised.

There really was a showdown between the good guys and the evil doers. The biggest meanie really did perish… albeit largely and ironically by accident. The action was high flying in the air, and vibrant on the ground.

This was all spectacular, but my senses were also drawn to the types of storytelling I didn’t see in Avengers #6. These were the smaller, quieter times where we actually saw the private lives of our heroes. For me it was even more special to see what these men in tights looked like in their normal clothes.

Heck had a way with these moments that few artists could approach. He was a master of drapery. The stylish clothing carried over from the 1950’s was elegantly worn by the champions on their off hours. Men in their suits, hats, and overcoats could have come from a Cary Grant movie. The women with their furs and dresses modeled directly from the glamorous Hollywood starlets of the day.

Particularly memorable for me are panels featuring gentlemanly Henry Pym steadfastly helping his girlfriend Janet Van Dyne with her coat, and Tony Stark lounging on a couch while recharging the battery of his Iron Man armor.

 

 

This was like behind the scenes v.i.p access and it was beautifully portrayed. It made you feel like you were the only person seeing it. It created a bond between you and the heroes… and by osmosis, with the artist.

I suppose it’s a matter of personal taste, but since those days I’ve always gravitated towards the style of Heck. I found his quiet images compelling, his storytelling exciting, and of course… there was the women. Boy, was there ever the women. He was renown throughout the comics’ field for his beautiful depictions of the fairer sex.

He could ably handle all the genres comics had to offer. Many say his work in westerns, war, and horror books were even better than the bulk of his super-hero work. But even so, to a generation of fans he was considered ‘the’ Iron-Man artist, or ‘the’ Avengers artist… or at least honored enough to be in the conversation.

Along with John Romita, Frank Robbins, and many others, Heck was part of a generation of artists greatly influenced by comic strip master Milton Caniff. In the 50’s and 60’s there was literally a ‘Caniff Movement’ and Heck was probably the best of the bunch at that time. He was so highly respected in fact, that counted among his peer admirers were the likes of legendary comic artists like “Big” John Buscema and the aforementioned Jack “King” Kirby. As a matter of fact, when Kirby wanted to solicit his important ‘New Gods’ concept to DC, he chose Heck as his finisher on the initial presentation drawings.

Later in Heck’s run on ‘Avengers’ he had the opportunity to ink his own pencils. This run is universally considered the high water mark for an artist employing the Caniff style in super-heroes. Even better than Romita’s late 1950’s Captain America series, I can’t recommend these stories any more highly. Daring layouts, dynamic storytelling, impressive use of blacks in inking… these books simply set the standard for the style.

But despite the admiration of fans and respect from fellow professionals, there is the unfortunate tale of the ugly interview done by an ugly man where a famous author names Don Heck as the worst comics artist of all time. I will not name names; you can go to Google if you wish. If you do you will see that the interviewer practically goads the information from the author, and in a twist of fate worthy of the author’s most  famous stories… he names the wrong man! He never meant to use Heck’s name. (Not that he should have named anyone anyway.) To his credit, the famous author apologized profusely whenever he could over the years. I’m glad he did.

Apology aside, this did great damage to Don. He was still capable of terrific work, but found less and less of it. Eventually he was hampered by worsening eyesight and failing health. If he was bitter about the famous interview, we would really never hear of it. Don Heck was a quiet, dignified gentleman, much like the heroes he drew way back in Avengers #15.

In recent years there’s been a Don Heck renaissance! “Don Heck: A Work of Art” by John Coates is a finely researched and wonderful biography released in 2014, and in 2016 Craig Yoe produced the beautifully assembled and lovingly detailed salute to Heck’s classic 1950’s horror work, “Horror by Heck!”.

This writer also took it upon himself a couple of years ago to start a fast growing Facebook group called “The Don Heck Appreciation Page” which is chock full of wonderful art from all periods of Don’s prolific career. Please join us in ‘raising Heck!’

A few decades ago, ‘Harry’s Barber Shop’ burnt down to the ground. I remember the day I rode my bicycle to the site where it once stood. I got off my bike to walk among and explore the rubble. And that’s really all there was… rubble. I turned to leave when from the corner of my eye I glimpsed a flash of color among the charred grey. Excited, I ran to the spot. It was that coverless copy of Avengers #15 that I loved so much! Much like Heck’s class and art… it was the only thing that lasted.

And does to this day.

 

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Jason Powell Talks Chris Claremont’s X-Men

Geek Genie caught up with author Jason Powell on the release of his book “The Best There is at What He does – Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men” released by Sequart.

 

GG: Hi Jason. Congratulations on the release of your book! What made you want to write a book specifically about the Claremont run in X-Men?

JP: Well I guess that my love of the X-Men is really tied to that particular run by Chris Claremont. I was lucky enough to be given a collection of comic books from my Uncle which had a good mix of Marvel comics (although he refused to give up his Spidey books!). I discovered the X-Men at the same time that the X-Men cartoon series was also taking off and so I really wanted to find out more about these chracters.

GG: Claremont’s run is legendary for its soap opera and length of run. Was this an easy write?

JP: Yes and no! It was easy in the sense that it was a real labour of love. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time and in fact it’s taken about 10 years to get this book out! Part of the reason it took so long is probably because I was so determined to get this absolutely right. Because I cared so much about this topic, I wanted to make this something that I could look back on and be happy with. And this is a tribute to a great writer that I very much admire and so it was kind of daunting in some ways. You want to get your tributes right!

GG: You’ve gone through the main ages of Claremont’s run very methodically.

JP: I guess that was the easiest way to do it, given how long his run stretches.

GG: And so we start with “All New, All Different…”

 

JP: Yes and as we progress through the book, you become aware of the different stages that the book and indeed the whole X-Men family go through. Claremont oversaw such huge changes to the team. New team members were draughted in, plot lines were introduced and would run for months, sometimes years.

Character development and relationships were central to the Claremont run. Each character brought a unique dynamic to the team and their relationships underpinned many of the most famous plot lines. Would Jean’s slow descent into the Phoenix force have been as emotionally charged without Scott’s anguish?

Claremont also took the team and characters out of their comfort zones, whether it was in far off space or in the outbacks of Australia.

GG: Claremont was clearly the driving force behind the rise and rise of the X-Men during this period, but he also worked with some top creators as well. What was that relationship like?

JP: Claremont was very detailed when plotting a story. Using the “Marvel method” his plots would often run as many pages as the actual comic book itself which irritated John Byrne no end. But then Frank Miller found Claremont very easy to work with when the two collaborated on the Wolverine Limited Series in 1982.

 

GG: As the X-Men franchise grows bigger and more successful, what kind of challenges did this pose for Claremont as a writer?

JP: There were challenges. The X-Men soon became the premier Marvel book and it becamame a licensing and marketing behemoth for Marvel. That maybe difficult for people to believe in this Marvel Cinematic Universe where the X-Men don’t even exist! But back then, it was all about the X-Men and pretty soon marketing concerns were creeping into creative decision making. As an example, the success of the X-Men cartoon TV series meant that Claremont was being pressured to ensure that there was no conflict in storylines between the two mediums. They didn’t want him being too creative!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GG: The success of the 1980’s soon gives way to the gigantic sales figures of the Jim Lee era. Claremont would soon leave. Was he pushed?

JP: No. Although Jim Lee certainly wanted more creative control of the X-Men, neither Jim Lee nor editor Bob Harris wanted Claremont to leave. However, the increasing interference and creative restrictions placed on Claremont eventually led to him leaving. It was suggested to him that he should hang on and wait for Jim Lee to move on but Claremont was adamant he’d had enough. Lee did eventually leave the X-Men not long afterward but he is quite philosphical about that stating that the same issues would probably have surfaced with the next rising star artist. He left the book in great shape, it was still the best selling book for Marvel so he’d done his bit.

 

 

GG: Where does Claremont rank in the pantheon of Marvel creators?

JP: The sheer quantity of work means that Claremont looms large. But it’s also the quality that he injected into that work which seals his status in the history of not just Marvel comics, but the comics industry period. The number of characters that he created, the seminal storylines and iconic moments. The bedrock of the entire X-Men franchise was created by this one man. And these stories are now resonating through the movies now, touching a whole new generation of audiences. He is probably the most influential creator of the second wave pf creators after the Lee, Kirby and Ditko era and I wanted to put out an unapologetically pro-Claremont story and to honour someone that has enriched our story-telling experiences.

 

The Best There is at What He Does is available to buy from CreateSpace and Amazon priced $16.99

ISBN 9781940589121

Kindle edition $5.99

 

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The Top 10 Graphic Novels of all Time!

By IzzyLFC

Comic book charachters are now more popular today than ever before, thanks to Film and TV as well as the comic industry’s best creators. However it all started with 20-page magazines starring iconic characters like Superman, Batman, Captain America and Spiderman. I’m looking at the greatest graphic novels ever to be written. Do you agree?!

 

10. Crisis on Infinite Earths – Marv Wolfman

 

 

 

Probably DC comics’ biggest event ever, Marv Wolfman creates a masterpiece with Crisis. Featuring the first appearance of probably the most powerful villain ever, The Anti-Monitor, this 12-issue series was a crisis since two of DC’s most loved characters died protecting not only the world or even the universe but the multiverse. Both Supergirl and Flash die protecting the ones they love.

9. Blackest Night – Geoff Johns

 

One of my favourite writters Geoff Johns delivered probably the biggest and best Green Lantern storyline ever in 2009-10. When Hal Jordan returns from the dead, he brings death with him. A figure going by the Black hand is leading the living dead or Black lantern corps into destroying humanity. We see our favourite heroes and our most despised villains putting on rings to unite against a common threat.

 

8. Daredevil: The Man without Fear – Frank Miller

 

and respected writers in the comic book world created one of the great Daredevil stories. Explaining the origins and early life of Matt Murdock, Miller creates nothing short of a masterpiece.

 

7. The Killing Joke – Alan Moore

Alan Moore creates more of a Joker tale than a Batman tale. Aimed at mature audiences, this comic shows the gruesome and insane nature of the dark knight’s greatest foe. An iconic scene where Joker is dressed in a tourist outfit, he paralyzes Barbara Gordon, ending her run as Batgirl.

 

6. Civil War – Mark Miller

 

Now a Blockbuster MCU film, Civil War was definitely one of the great comic book events. Looking at the more realistic and political side of Superheroes, the Superhero Registration Act or “Sokovia accords” in the movie brings the superhero community in the cross-hairs of the law. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers represent to the two conflicting sides of the argument and suddenly the Marvel Universe is at war! One of the most iconic and impactful moments was the unmasking of Spider-Man as Peter Parker.

 

5. Flashpoint – Geoff Johns

 

probably the most impactful event in Barry Allen’s history. It also kickstarted DC’s New 52 and still reverberates through the DCU. When Barry travels back to save his Mother, he doesn’t realise the consequences of his actions and how they will affect the timeline. Thomas Wayne is now Batman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war and Superman is a lab experiment. Trust me, you’ll finish this in one read!

 

4. The Infinity Gauntlet – Jim Starlin

 

Jim Starlin, the king of Marvel’s cosmic universe, creates probably Marvel’s biggest storyline ever. Avengers Infinity War, the MCU movie that everything has been leading up to is based on this. This story shows the true power of Thanos and the 6 Infinity gems. One of my favourites.

 

3. Watchmen – Alan Moore

 

Now starting to appear in DC rebirth comics, Watchmen is the first Comic that isn’t mainstream Marvel or DC on the list! Alan Moore creates another adult aimed story which is about a more realistic society and the kind of threats that superheroes face…and are! Watchmen is widely regarded as one of the greatest graphic novles ever!

 

2. The Dark Knight Returns – Frank Miller

 

Expected first? Well first or not, TDKR is the greatest Batman story ever. Bruce Wayne hasn’t been Batman for many years, but returns to face the mutants, Joker, Superman as well as training a new, female Robin. Christopher Nolan’s TDKR is based on this and the Knighfall storyline. Batman at his best!

 

Old Man Logan – Mark Millar

 

As you can tell from the image, Mark Millar creates one of the goriest but greatest tales ever. Logan has quit being Wolverine in the future but gets back in the game with an opportunity to pay rent. Sadly, he isn’t on time and the landlords, AKA the Hulks have killed his family. He goes berserker mode and wipes out almost all of the Hulks family. A simple but memorable story, also now a blockbuster movie in “Logan” played by fan favourite Hugh Jackman.

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“The Greatest Comic Book Covers” Series Preview

Geek Genie launches a regular series looking at the greatest comic covers of all time! Which one is your favourite?

Scanning the rows and rows of comic books on offer at your local comic book store, what’s the first thing that grabs your attention? Chances are that the cover of the book will go a long way in determining whether or not you’re going to give this book a shot.

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is sound advice in general and even with comic books. But maybe more than any other medium, the cover in the case of comic books is often an integral part of the overall value (creative as well as monetary) worth of the book.

Comics are there to be read, but they’re also there to be looked at and admired. It’s a literary and visual medium and there are hundreds, maybe thousands of artists who have contributed to the long list of great comic book covers.

So stay tuned and look out for the start of an ongoing series as Geek Genie brings to you The Greatest Comic Book Covers! 

 

Do you have a favourite comic book cover? Let us know by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Or better still why not contribute to the series? All you have to do is register on this site and hey presto! You’ll have your very own blog and can contribute to this amazing ongoing series! Well…what are you waiting for? Hit the “register” button on the top right of this page and get writing!

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The Greatest Comic Book Covers #1 – Action Comics #1

Geek Genie kicks off its new regular series looking at the Greatest Comic Book Covers with the one that started it all…Action Comics #1!.

 

It’s an iconic image for an iconic figure. Superman crashed through the front cover of Action Comics #1 in June 1938 and forever changed the comic book landscape. It ushered in the age of the superhero and laid the foundations of a pop-culture war between DC Comics and eventual rival Marvel Comics.

Joe Schuster’s iconic cover captured the sense of wonder, awe and terror as a yet unknown Superman delivers a fantastic display of power.

 

 

 

 

The sheer rawness of the cover, with no words or text other than the cover title, added to its power. Even the title, Action Comics, leaped from the page in a new, bold and exciting style that has now become synonomous with the character.

 

The science fiction influence on the creation of Superman is well documented but what influenced the cover art? According to Christopher Knowles, author of Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret history of Comic Book Heroes, there is a mythological influence found in the art piece Hercules Clubs the Hydra by Antonio del Pollaiolo. We don’t know for certain, however it would be fitting that one mythology would inspire another.

 

And just as the character himself has inspired other creators to create their own “Supermen”, so too does the cover art still influence and inspire modern comic book artists. Several “homage” covers, even from the old enemy over at Marvel, testify to the enduring legacy of that seminal moment in comic book history. From The Amazing Spider-Man to Spawn, the first Action Comics cover is still a reference point for all that work in the medium.

 

 

 

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The Best of 2017 And The Most Anticipated For 2018

In this special article, I will look at the smashing year we’ve had in 2017 and what’s to come in 2018! This is our version of The Oscar’s!

 

Movie of the Year: Star Wars the Last Jedi

 

Nominees:

  • Logan
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • War of the Planet of the Apes
  • Thor Ragnarok

 

Most anticipated Movie of 2018: Avengers Infinity War

 

TV Show of the Year: Stranger Things 2

 

Nominees:

  • The Punisher
  • Arrow
  • Agents of Shield
  • Legion

Most anticipated TV show of 2018: Watchmen

 

 

Game of the Year: Fortnite

 

Nominees:

  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Injustice 2
  • PES 2018
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins

 

Most anticipated game of 2018: Spider-Man PS4

 

 

Comic Book of the year: DC Rebirth The Button

 

 

Nominees:

  • Batman I am Bane
  • Secret Empire
  • Doomsday Clock
  • The Oz effect

Most anticipated Comic book of 2018:

The New age of DC heroes

 

 

There you have it, did you agree with what I thought on 2017, hopefully 2018 is just as good as the smashing year we’ve just had!

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WIN Thor Ragnarok!

The home cinema release of Thor Ragnarok is just around the corner and Geek Genie has teamed up with streaming service VUDU to bring you free digital downloads of Marvel’s smash hit featuring everyones favourite god of thunder!

All you have to do to enter is register on our website (look at the top right of this page where it says “Register”) and that’s it! You’ll be entered in our draw with winners recieving their digital codes by 25th February, 2018. Odin’s Beard!

Winners will be able to redeem their codes anytime by going to the Vudu website www.vudu.com/vuducodes. So what are you waiting for?

Pick up your hammer and register on this website now!

 

Terms and conditions apply.

Codes can be redeemed at www.vudu.com/vuducodes at any time. A credit card may be required to complete account setup but users will only be charged for additional content they rent or purchase. There will be no charge associated with redemption of their free copy of Thor: Ragnarok. This offer is applicable to users who have access to VUDU, a U.S based streaming service. Geek Genie does not encourage nor condone the access of VUDU outside the territories of the U.S or where it conflicts with local laws and regulations. Geek Genie bears no responsbility for the successful redemption of digital codes. All queries must be submitted to VUDU and VUDU is solely responsible for the successful redemption of digital downloads and/or any associated use of the service. Winners will chosen randomly and will be notified by email by the 25th February, 2018.

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The Black Panther Spoiler Free Review

Black Panther, the MCU’s 18th addition to its list of great movies has just hit the cinema’s and it lives up to Marvel’s movie reputation. Being the penultimatemovie before Avengers Infinity War hits, Black Panther introduces an entire new culture and people to the MCU and it is fantastic!

Synopsis:

After the events of Civil War, T’Challa returns home to Wakanda to be crowned king. He must try to emulate his father T’Chaka in being the best ruler he can while protecting his people as the ‘Black Panther’. Going on several missions to stop old enemies and threats, T’Challa encounters a new arch-nemesis and must protect the people he loves from him.

Positives:

  • A new culture and setting for the MCU, dealing with real life situations and problems
  • A brilliant portrayal of ‘Erik Killmonger’ by Michael B Jordan giving us one of the MCU’s finest villains!
  • Visually stunning costumes, settings and effects with non-stop action and a catchy soundtrack by well-known artists

Negatives:

  • Not enough link to Avengers Infinity War
  • Not enough screen time or action scenes for Michael B Jordan’s ‘Erik Killmonger’

My Review & Rating

I truly struggled writing and thinking of negatives for Black Panther, it was truly mesmerising. The story and character backgrounds were unique, the setting was beautiful, the hero was worthy of being king and of course the star of the show Michael B Jordan’s performance was the one of the best in MCU history giving us a villain who we felt sorry for but found awesome at the same time!

9/10 – “Long live the king and welcome to the MCU!” 

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The Greatest Comic Book Covers #3

In the third installment of our ongoing series, our spotlight falls on Marvel’s flagship character Spider-Man and how a certain Canadian artist reinvented everyones favourite arachnid for a whole new generation.

In 1987 an up and coming Canadian artist took over the artistic reigns on Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man title. Neither the character, nor the wider comic book industry, would ever be the same again.

Todd McFarlane was an overnight sensation on Amazing Spider-Man. Ever since co-creator Steve Ditko left the book way back in the 1966 dated issue Amazing Spider-Man #39, the web spinner was fixed in a Marvel “house style” best depicted by John Romita Senior and Ross Andru. An acclaimed run by Ron Frenz took the wall crawler back to his Ditko days until McFarlane joined the book as its regular artist with issue #298.

McFarlane really put the spider into Spider-Man. Bigger bug eyes and a more wirey, athletic Spider-Man was introduced along with a more detailed “spaggetti” webbing.

When Amazing Spider-Man #300 hit the stands, McFarlane was on his way to comic book stardom. This was no standard bumper anniversary issue. This issue told a story that meant something and added to an already rich mythology. One of Spidey’s most implacable foes was introduced. Over 30 years later that character, Venom, is still one of comicdoms most popular characters and has even made his way to the big screen.

And then, there’s that cover. If you had to pick one cover that told you everything about Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man, this one has to be it. There are those big eyes and that super athletic pose. The webbing is detailed and Spider-Man jumps out of the cover. It had its admirers back when it was released and over 30 years later it continues to influence. Not a month goes by in the world of new comic book releases, than a string of “homage” covers hit the shelves, all honouring in their own way a most iconic comic book cover.

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Stan Lee 1922 – 2018

As news of Stan Lee’s passing reverberates around the world, Geek Genie pays tribute to “The Man”.

lthough most of us knew this day was coming, it was still hard to take. At 95 years of age, Stanley Martin Lieber, had passed. He had lived his best life. In recent months, the signs were there that Stan may not be of this mortal plane for much longer. After his beloved wife Joan passed away in 2017 also at the age of 95, his health slowly deteriorated.

Stan Lee’s place in comic book and indeed pop-culture history is already assured. He was instrumental in turning a fledgling Marvel Comics into a powerhouse which shunted to one side the old established order represented by DC Comics. Lee’s penchant for hyperbole saw him add the strapline “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” to the Fantastic Four comic…after only two issues! But it was precisely this boundless enthusiasm and energy which saw Marvel tap into the 1960’s hip new generation in a way that DC struggled to.

His creative collaborations with industry legends such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Don Heck to name but a few saw the birth of a new universe that has now come to dominate the big screen. Spider-Man was a loner and nerd who was bullied at school. The X-Men were a band of outcasts shunned by society and victims of discrimination and intolerance. Generations of disenfranchised groups found an immediate home in the pages of these unconventional heroes.

Lee was not without controversy. His role in the creative process of many of Marvel’s characters has sometimes been challenged. The age of social media has possibly amplified some of the vitriol hurled toward Lee. But even his most ardent critics would have to accept that Marvel Comics and indeed its later cinematic off-shoot would not have had the success it enjoys to this day without Stan Lee.

After Marvel’s stable of titles increased, Lee stepped aside as writer and editor to become Publisher of Marvel Comics in 1972 and in 1980 moved to Los Angeles in an effort to launch Marvel into Holywood. But box office success would have to wait. While DC were enjoying success with its Superman and Batman series of films, Marvel were releasing straight to video flops in the form of Captain America and Fantastic Four. 

All that would change in 2000 with the release of X-Men. The success of  X-Men heralded the Marvel Age of Movies. In 2008 the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born with the release of Iron Man. The studio followed one hit after another. A fan favourite feature of each movie is Stan Lee’s cameo appearances. With Avengers 4 already completed, Stan’s next cameo will be all the more special.

News of his passing prompted a deluge of tributes from friends, collaborators, fans and pretty much anyone and everyone.

For those of us who are comic book fans, most of us cannot remember a time without Stan Lee. His vision, passion, creativity and constant desire to move Marvel forward has given us a world rich with characters and stories that will remain forever. The Marvel Universe, indeed the comic book world, is poorer today with Lee’s passing. But you know he wouldn’t want it to end here. His legacy lives on in the millions of fans and creators inspired by his work and vision. Onward. Excelsior!

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