Excelsior, Joan Lee; Marvel Icon Stan Lee’s wife dies at 95

Excelsior, Joan Lee; Marvel Icon Stan Lee’s wife dies at 95

Marvel icon Stan Lee’s wife passed away in Los Angeles, last Thursday, July 6, 2017.   Joan Lee was 95.  She succumbed to complications following a stroke earlier in the week.  Joan and Stan were married for 69 years, and by all accounts hopelessly devoted to each other.  She is survived by Stan and their daughter J.C. (Joan Celia), and in a sense by the entire Marvel universe as well.

It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to call Joan the mother of the Marvel universe.  The story goes something like this.  In 1961, the state of the comicbook business wasn’t nearly what it is today.  There was censorship and genres that didn’t interest Stan dominated the market: war, monsters and romance.  Stan had wanted to be a serious novelist and adopted the pen name Stan Lee for his comics work, saying that he wouldn’t sign such unserious stuff with his given name, Stanley Martin Lieber.  Anyway, in 1961 Stan felt depressed about the state of the comics business and was considering quitting, no doubt to devote himself to writing that actual serious stuff full time.  But Joan convinced her husband to write one more comic he could really be proud of — one comic just they way he wanted — before he hung it all up for good.

Thus, Stan Lee and his frequent collaborator, artist Jack Kerby, co-created the Fantastic Four.  Fantastic Four was a hit in 1961 and continued to be one of Marvel’s, and the industry’s, leading titles for decades to follow.  After Fantastic Four, Stan went on to co-create Iron Man, Hulk, the Avengers, the X-Men, basically the foundation titles of the Marvel universe as we know it today.  Without Joan’s encouragement, Stan and Mr Kerby would never have created the Fantastic Four.  Without the Fantastic Four none of those other titles — the ones that make Marvel  the pop-culture powerhouse it is today — would exist.

Joan published one novel in 1987.  Her and Stan’s daughter, J. C., says her mother has several completed, but unpublished novel manuscripts.  Joan also did voice-over work in animated television projects based on her husband’s characters.  Joan was Madame Web in Spider-Man from 1996 – 1998 and Miss Forbes on Fantastic Four in 1994.   She also joined Stan in family cameo for X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016.

On April 14, 2017, Marvel Comics Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada, reminisced with Stan about Joan in short video for the Paley Center.  Marvel planned for the video to be part of tribute to Joan and Stan’s 70th wedding anniversary in December this year.  In light of her passing Marvel released it on July 7, 2017.  Take a look.  There’s more below.

Comic fan, creator and filmmaker, Kevin Smith wrote in part, “…  He [Stan] told us tales of heroes but Joan was Stan’s personal superhero – and without her, we never get our modern mythology. They say behind every great man is a great woman. In this case, the great woman was always standing right beside him. Joan and Stan were best friends for 70 years. My heart goes out to my hero Stan, his daughter JC, their right hand Max and anyone who ever met Joanie. Thank you, Marvel Muse. We’ll miss you, Madame Web.”

I can’t say it any better than that, Kevin Smith.

Via con Dios, Joan Lee.


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