On Stan Lee breaking his silence in The Daily Beast (Opinion)
On Sunday, October 8, The Daily Beast published an article called “Stan Lee Breaks His Silence: The People I Trusted Betrayed Me,” by Mark Ebner, and I would urge you to read it yourself. Once that’s done come back.
Over the last year a lot has happened to the Man, and it all seems to have gotten worse after the passing of his wife, Joan, in July of last year. It seems as you read the laundry list of claimed charges against the people close to him that the death of his wife was the start of his troubles. I would argue that it began long before that.
At this point Stan Lee is 95, and I would imagine suffers many of the same ills that anyone this age would. As much as I hate to say it, Stan probably won’t be with us much longer. When Ebner jokes that he’ll outlive us all toward the end of the article, he responds, “I hope not. I have no desire to.”
Sadly, this is something I have seen and heard myself before. There comes a point in time for some elderly people when continued living is a struggle. From the article, this seems to me to be the point that Lee is at now. The final years of Stan’s life have almost played out like a bad Silver-Age comic as the charges against those around him stacked up. With everything from elder abuse to theft and embezzlement swarming around him I can see why he has reached this point.
It does seem that while perhaps not the best situation, Stan’s life has improved as the daily claims have ceased. Let’s be honest here, Stan long ago became a National Treasure. He is the man who, for better or worse, made Marvel. Now did he do it all himself? No he didn’t. Did he take credit for more than his fair share? Yes he did. I once read that Stan even claimed that “(he) would take credit for any credit that wasn’t nailed down.” While this may have not been the best or most admirable way to create the Marvel Universe, it worked.
Stan had that rare ability to be a shameless self promoter. While this obviously gave him undue credit it also benefited those around him to a lesser extent. Look for a moment at the careers of some of those around him. Jack Kirby, while undoubtedly the most influential artist in comics, was not a great writer. This can be seen in the quality of his work without Stan. Kirby was an idea man, and he gave birth to some of the greatest creations in comics, but Stan gave them their voice.
The same goes for Steve Ditko. While perhaps a better draftsman than Kirby, Ditko suffered the same fate as Kirby. Spider-Man, who may be the greatest creation in comics, is easily Ditko’s best work. The only other creation of Ditko’s that even comes close is The Question. This largely is because The Question acts as a mouthpiece for Ditko’s own beliefs in Objectivism.
I bring up these examples, and I am sure there are more, but these are the two most well known to show that Lee himself, whether intentionally or unintentionally, has taken advantage of others. With this being said, Lee served as the greatest spokesman for Marvel and helped to make it into the powerhouse that it is today. I firmly believe that much of the “advantage” that Lee took of those around him in the early days of Marvel was unintentional. Often when supremely creative people work on a project together the “who did what” gets lost in the creative process.
The difference here is that it seemed for quite sometime the people surrounding Lee actively took advantage of him for monetary gain. If you read the list of charges that have been leveled at those around him that seems to be the only conclusion you can come to. It does seem now that things have calmed down, and Lee will be able to live out his last days in peace. We may never know the true extent of the abuse and crimes leveled against those around him and perhaps that is for the best. I for one would like to think that when he passes he is surrounded by those who love him and have his best interest at heart.
On a final note, the mistreatment that Stan Lee has received is far more common in the US than it should be. According to the National Center for Elder Abuse 1 in 10 elderly people suffer one form of abuse or another. Living in the rural south, such mistreatment of the elderly is common.
In many parts of our country where influence has long gave way to cities, factories have fled for overseas markets and their education systems have failed many stand on the sidelines waiting for their elderly to die. They stand there with their hands out because they no longer see their elderly as a source of wisdom or of any value outside of monetary gain.
This has long distressed me and I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to spending time with my elders. As for standing there with my hand out, this has never occurred to me. I have my own life, a good job and no need for anything that my elders may have. They are much more valuable as a source of wisdom than as any source of financial wealth that so many would view them as. Recently, during Sunday services our Pastor said, “One of the truest marks of a Christian is how they stand up for those unable to stand up for themselves”.
Lastly, for those of you who still have elderly family members remember them. My mother would often tell me, “Go see your Granny, you never know how much longer she will be around.” This is the truth. You never really know how much longer your elders will be with you. All I can tell you is that when they are gone you will only be left with your memories good and bad.