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  1. #1
    Mighty Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Default What are your overall thoughts on Stan Lee's writing from the 60s and early 70s?

    With an emphasis on these series in particular:

    Fantastic Four #1-114, #120-125 (1961-1972)

    Incredible Hulk/Tales to Astonish #1-6, #60-101, #108-120 (1962-1969)

    Journey into Mystery/Thor #83-192 (1962-1971)

    Amazing Spider-Man #1-100, #105-110, #116-118 (1963-1973)

    Tales of Suspense/Iron Man #39-67, #69-98 (1963-1968)

    Avengers #1-35 (1963-1966)

    X-Men #1-19 (1963-1966)

    Daredevil #1-9, #11-50 (1964-1969)

    Tales of Suspense/Captain America #59-86, #88-109, #112, #114-141 (1964-1971)
    Last edited by Electricmastro; 12-03-2019 at 08:00 PM.

  2. #2
    Mighty Member tg1982's Avatar
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    As a huge Cap fan, I really liked his Avengers and Captain America runs.
    I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.
    - George Washington

  3. #3
    Fantastic Member Mormegil's Avatar
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    His writing is rough to read, especially in large chunks. I read most of the silver age between 2014-2017. Its difficult to figure out what was Stan and what was the artists he worked with.

    To be honest the biggest feather in Stan's writing cap is Spider-Man. I think if Ditko had been free to write everything as he wanted the character wouldn't be as beloved as he is today. The series maintains its quality (arguably gets even better) throughout #39-100.

    So why was the writing and side character development so much better on Spider-Man than any other title? Did Stan only have the energy to really give it his all on one title? When you compare Spider-Man feels like its written by a different writer from his other books.

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    It's extremely difficult to measure Lee as a writer because of Marvel Method. I tend to think that he largely followed what Kirby and Ditko plotted and their notes in the pages that they left behind.

    Lee's great skill as a writer was that he was able to adapt himself to whoever he worked with. For instance the Lee-Kirby stuff reads very differently from the Lee-Ditko stuff. And the Lee-Ditko stuff reads very differently from the Lee-Romita stuff (which has more of Lee in it owing to Romita's inexperience as a plotter).

    I think Lee's most underrated quality is that as a writer of dialogues he made each character sound unique and distinct. When people think about Stan Lee the writer they think about the captions, the Marvel Bullpen proclamations and so on. But as a writer of dialogues he's got an excellent ear in making each character sound different.

    Just think about the fact that the following dialogues for so many different characters were written by one guy:

    Am I always to be thwarted, embarrassed, frustrated by Spider-Man?? I hate that costumed freak more than I've ever hated anyone before!...All my life I've been interested in only one thing—making money! And yet, Spider-Man risks his life day after day with no thought of reward! If a man like him is good—is a hero—then what am I??...Spider-Man represents everything that I'm not! He's brave, powerful and unselfish! The truth is, I envy him! I, J. Jonah Jameson—millionaire, man of the world, civic leader—I'd give everything I own to be the man that he is!
    — J. Jonah Jameson, Amazing Spider-Man #10, written by Stan Lee. (1964)

    Now you listen to me, Peter Parker...!! Even though I'm an old woman, I'm not a quitter! A person needs gumption—-the will to live—-to fight—-you mustn't worry about me so much, Peter dear! We Parkers are tougher than people think!
    — Aunt May, Amazing Spider-Man #18, written by Stan Lee. (1964)

    "You've always been good for a few laughs, Harry — but don't let it go to your head. I'm nobody's girl but my own — and that's the way I like it. See ya around, curly."
    — Mary Jane setting clear limits on her relationship with Harry Osborn, Issue #96, written by Stan Lee

    "Actually, I am the gentlest, the most unambitious of monarchs! My only desire is to make my people happy — and to further the cause of peace, and of brotherly love! I have been informed that my devoted subjects actually dance in the streets, at the merest mention of my name!"
    — Victor von Doom, Fantastic Four #57, written by Stan Lee.

    "I've done it! I'm drifting into a world of limitless dimensions!! It's the crossroads of infinity — the junction to everywhere!"
    — Reed Richards, Fantastic Four #51, "This Man, This Monster", written by Stan Lee
    Just look at those dialogues, all of them from distinct unique characters and all of them sounding right for the characters and different.

    So that's his great gift and talent. And Lee's skill as a writer of dialogue to differentiate characters played a major, crucial role in that time. Even if you accept that Kirby and Ditko are the primary auteurs of their comics as many people do today, you have to give due credit to Stan Lee for the special sauce because he helped distinguish each character and so each genre as unique and apart from one another.

    And not many people have that gift. Take Frank Miller...virtually every story has every characters sounding like each other with little variation. Whether it's Spartans, Basin City criminals, Daredevil, Batman...all speak in Miller-speak. Garth Ennis is similar. Even Kieron Gillen suffers from that, though he's mostly all right. So Stan had a real gift there.

  5. #5
    Latverian ambassador Iron Maiden's Avatar
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    As probably one of the few who was around when Stan was writing I can say that when you compare what Stan was doing as opposed to DC was doing at that time you will really appreciate Stan all the more. DC had to up the game when they realized that Marvel was gaining on them in sales. Marvel would eventually take over the #1 spot in the late 1960's or early 1970's.

    My first Marvel comic was Fantastic Four #39, which was a swap with the boy next door. My Dad would go to the local Rexall and pick up comics and we asked him sto start getting Marvel stuff, since each comic would list the stuff on sale that month. Revolutionary Jack cited some dialogue examples and that was the key. Next to the Fantastic Four, the Avengers was my favorite because by this time we had the brief run of the Kooky Quartet, still one of my favorite Avengers run. Daredevil #7 where DD battles Namor is still a great done in one issue to me.

    I did dip into a few DC comics my Aunt had in her house for when she would have her grandson over. This is the kind of stuff they were doing with Superman around the same time Marvel was gearing up. No comparison. There was always some silly story with Lois trying to get Superman's attention. I'm sure there were other plots but it just was dull to me. This is how you can see what Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko was doing really changed comics for the superhero genre.


  6. #6

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    He was great with characterization. As far as plotting it's widely acknowledged that Kirby, Ditko and Romita Sr. had heavy hands in it. In my humble opinion, the stuff Stan did with Jack on the FF and Thor from 63-70 or so is incredible as far as introducing characters, concepts and ideas. I haven't read the Lee/Ditko/Romita Spider-Man but honorable mention goes to the early Dr. Strange stuff too

  7. #7
    Mighty Member Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Electricmastro View Post
    With an emphasis on these series in particular:

    Fantastic Four #1-114, #120-125 (1961-1972)

    Incredible Hulk/Tales to Astonish #1-6, #60-101, #108-120 (1962-1969)

    Journey into Mystery/Thor #83-192 (1962-1971)

    Amazing Spider-Man #1-100, #105-110, #116-118 (1963-1973)

    Tales of Suspense/Iron Man #39-67, #69-98 (1963-1968)

    Avengers #1-34 (1963-1966)

    X-Men #1-19 (1963-1966)

    Daredevil #1-9, #11-49 (1964-1969)

    Tales of Suspense/Captain America #59-86, #88-109, #112, #114-141 (1964-1971)
    All are some of my favorite runs!

  8. #8
    Condescending Member manymade1's Avatar
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    His Spider-Man stuff has aged really well, to the point where I actually don't consider the writing to be that dated. I do find his Fantastic Four run to be very dated, though. I honestly just couldn't get into those comics, although i respect them for (imo) establishing a lot of Silver Age trends.

  9. #9
    Kinky Lil' Canine Snoop Dogg's Avatar
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    A Stan script is an instant Midas touch to a story.
    Quote Originally Posted by Franklin Richards
    Fragile creatures, we are taught to fear the Reaper!
    Ever running, we are dead before we meet Her!
    Quote Originally Posted by Valeria Richards
    Fearless creatures, we all learn to fight the Reaper!
    Can't defeat Her, so instead I'll have to be Her!

  10. #10
    Mighty Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mormegil View Post
    So why was the writing and side character development so much better on Spider-Man than any other title? Did Stan only have the energy to really give it his all on one title? When you compare Spider-Man feels like its written by a different writer from his other books.
    Yeah, out of all the series Stan wrote for in the 60s, Amazing Spider-Man is the one I hear praised the most, followed by Fantastic Four and Avengers, and a lot other stuff seems to end up being hit or miss with people. His Hulk and Daredevil stories seem to be the ones that are not cared for/disliked the most. I don't think I've ever heard anyone favor those, even when you don't compare them to the Peter David and Frank Miller stories.
    Last edited by Electricmastro; 12-03-2019 at 07:09 PM.

  11. #11
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    It was no secret that Spider-Man was Stan Lee's favorite character that he (co-)created, so perhaps he just put more effort into Spider-Man's writing because of it.
    The spider is always on the hunt.

  12. #12
    Astonishing Member
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    His big weakness was as a plotter. This is always pretty obvious where he's working with an artist who didn't just make up the plots as they drew, like Ditko and Kirby. John Buscema on "Silver Surfer" and Gene Colan on "Daredevil" did fantastic art, and all credit to Stan as writer/editor for getting such career-best work out of them, but the plots are nothing special (the Mike Murdock arc is actually one of the better ones because it's so ridiculous).

    His big strength was the sense of humor and his understanding that characters could snipe and snark at each other and still be heroic and still be friends. "Thor" is great with Kirby because Kirby takes the Norse mythology stuff very seriously and Stan makes it silly, with his jokes and mock-Shakespearian dialect, and that lightens up what could otherwise be a very heavy book.

    I also like that as time went on he used fewer and fewer captions, so if you look at the last year of his "Fantastic Four" scripts for Kirby it's almost all dialogue and thought balloons, rather than the bombastic over-narration that would take over superhero comics (including the ones Kirby wrote himself) in the '70s.

    I think Spider-Man stayed good after Ditko left because the series played to Stan's two biggest strengths: jokes and soap opera. It was like a superhero version of Archie comics, and it worked.

  13. #13
    Mighty Member Electricmastro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntsman Spider View Post
    It was no secret that Spider-Man was Stan Lee's favorite character that he (co-)created, so perhaps he just put more effort into Spider-Man's writing because of it.
    Yeah, wouldn't doubt that Amazing Spider-Man was the title Stan Lee put his best ideas in, and that all the rest of his ideas went into the other titles.

  14. #14
    Mighty Member LifeIsILL's Avatar
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    His Thor in my opinion is his magnum opus, it's way better than Spider-Man, not even close to me. Here is how I would rank them

    1. Thor
    2. Captain America
    3. Spidey/FF
    4. Hulk
    5. Avengers
    6. Daredevil
    7. X-Men

  15. #15
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Electricmastro View Post
    Yeah, wouldn't doubt that Amazing Spider-Man was the title Stan Lee put his best ideas in, and that all the rest of his ideas went into the other titles.
    I would qualify that since Spider-Man post-Ditko while great is not as good and unified as Ditko.

    Ditko had a much better handle of character dynamic than Stan did. Whereas Stan was often whimsical in approach to plot and character.

    Stan's best stretch post-Ditko is the first 13-14 issues from ASM#39-ASM#52 and following that form ASM#87-98. In-between stuff was fairly mediocre, and after that too.

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