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  • With Great Power: The Marvelous Stan Lee: An Unauthorized Biography by Annie Hunter Eriksen
  • Elizabeth Bush
Eriksen, Annie Hunter With Great Power: The Marvelous Stan Lee: An Unauthorized Biography; illus. by Lee Gatlin. Page Street, 2021 [40p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781645672852 $18.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R 6-9 yrs

The titular “unauthorized” winkingly confers a measure of creative liberty in this rollicking picture book biography of the generative force behind the Marvel Comics Universe. Mild-mannered Stanley Lieber, commissioned to help support his family, began as Errand Boy at Timely Comics, whooshing copy and coffee to staff, and even supplying snippets of dialogue when writers’ inventive juices temporarily ran dry. When luminaries Joe Simon and Jack Kirby quit, teenager Stanley (now a writer himself, under the name Stan Lee) became editor, dutifully cranking out adventures of heroes with chiseled physiques and virtuous bona fides, but becoming increasingly dissatisfied with his tepid output as Timely became Atlas, and Atlas became Marvel. Bravely daring (with his wife’s encouragement) to try something new, he unleashed a new stable of protagonists, with relatable foibles and far quirkier physiologies—the Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, and myriad Marvel crew that delight readers today. Gatlin’s mixed media pictures gleefully zoom in on the improbable bits of the Stan Lee success story—from his father’s fiat to find a job (“Liebers never loaf around!” insists paterfamilias over his newspaper and coffee), to his bosses’ initial rejection of the Spider-Man concept (“This sounds like a comedy character, not a hero!”), to the playful renderings of a mature Stan Lee in the role of his own creations. End matter includes further information on Lee’s career and bibliography. Pair this with Marc Tyler Nobleman’s Boys of Steel (BCCB 10/08) for a rousing Team Marvel v. Team DC cosplay story time.