The mystery of the “Stan’s Back!” ads is officially solved — yes, the indestructible Stan Lee has yet another business venture underway, this one with Boom! Studios.
On Tuesday, Boom! will officially announce that Lee will “present” three new superhero series featuring costumed characters of his creation. One of the series will be written by the studio’s biggest name, editor in chief Mark Waid. For the other two writers, announcements are pending. The series will not launch until later this year.
The cryptic ads — just the words “Stan’s Back!” in white letters against a black background — stirred a lot of interest, especially because the distinctive cursive signature on the first word matched the well-know autograph of Lee, whose name was synonymous with Marvel Comics in the House of Ideas’ glory days of the 1960s and the 1970s.
Twitter was, well, all atwitter. Some hopeful souls wondered of Lee was going back to Marvel; others did detective work and found that the website had a connection to a Vancouver mailing address, which they inferred as a clue that upstart Bluewater Publishing was hyping some new Lee venture, but all of that turned out to be more red herring than blue water. Some folks went searching for tongue-in-cheek visual clues with some surprising results. Many people were flabbergasted by the motto’s suggestion Lee had at some point gone away at all considering his relentless pact-making already with the likes of Disney and Archie; others just seemed befuddled by the pop-culture connections and ended up riffing on Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Justin Timberlake. Others revealed their own disturbing obsession with Lee’s brief R-rated past with Pam Anderson.
A number of wise souls (and another and one other who was especially early) did come up with the right answer but in the meantime the teaser-ad mystery pinged around the globe, where you read about the riddle in frustrated French and perplexed Portuguese.
Now the big question: Will all of this be half as interesting when we read the actual comics in the fall? Here’s hoping that it does goes well — and as big fan of Boom! and Waid’s work, I’m especially hopeful that this efforts turn out heroic. But the cold reality is that Lee has been stretched thin in recent years and is a long time removed from his days as a one-man pop-culture factory. Honestly, what was the last truly great character created by Lee?
– Geoff Boucher
RECENT AND RELATED
Photo: Stan Lee in his Beverly Hills office. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times
UPDATE: In an earlier version of this post are referred (jokingly) to Stan Lee’s “soft-core porn” past with Stripperella but changed it to “R-rated past” here since some readers pointed out that the animated epsiodes had happy endings but not, you know, happy endings.