Stan Lee - 20th Century Genius: HUM 102: Introduction to the Humanities - The Renaissance to the Present (Paper to introduce and defend a 20th Century Genius in our opinion.)

Essay by Robert KestenbaumUniversity, Master's January 2003

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Stan Lee - 20th Century Genius

The Amazing Spider-Man. The Incredible Hulk. The Uncanny X-Men. The Mighty Avengers. Daredevil - The Man Without Fear. Captain America. The Fantastic Four. The Invincible Iron Man. The Mighty Thor.

All of these names have a couple of things in common. They have all become established American icons through the years and they have all sprung from the creative genius mind of Stan Lee, writer, editor and creative director for Marvel Comics. Along with artists such as Wally Wood (Daredevil), Jack Kirby (Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, Avengers) and Steve Ditko (Spider-Man), Stan Lee has revolutionized the comic book business with superheroes that have the human element.

Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York City on December 28, 1922 (10 Questions, 2002). In 1939, Stan began working for his uncle, Martin Goodman, as an office assistant at Timely Comics. Within a year, he was given the task of writing for Captain America Comics #3.

This writing debut sparked enough interest in Lee's career that he quickly rose to higher positions like editor and chief writer. He joined the Army Signal Corps in World War II, writing training films and manuals for the different military branches. In addition, Lee was awarded the military classification of 'playwright', a distinction that the Army has only awarded to nine men, including William Saroyan (Rassbach, 2002).

When Lee returned from his service in the Army, Timely Comics began to experience financial difficulties. The comic book audience changed from GI's reading about heroes fighting Nazis to readers that wanted more realism in their comics. Timely Comics became Atlas Comics, with Lee writing westerns, true crime, comedies, horror and mysteries. During this time at Atlas, Lee met and worked with a pair of legendary artists, Steve Ditko and Jack...