Stan Lee was a titan of the comics industry. His creative and editorial output laid the groundwork for modern comics, creating some of the most iconic superheroes on the planet. While he hasn't written very many comics recently, he left an indelible mark across the medium. Going beyond comics, his creations are part of some of them most successful movies in history.
Most people know Stan as the Spider-Man guy, the Fantastic Four guy, the Marvel guy. He also wrote several comics most people have never heard of. Some anniversary issues, some special artist collaborations, and even an entire special lineup for DC. With his passing, we look back on some of those more obscure comics you might not have heard of.
10 RAVAGE 2099
In 1992, Marvel tried something different. They published an entire line of comics set in the year 2099, featuring futuristic versions of their iconic characters. Appropriately titled Marvel 2099, the line saw new spins on Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Doctor Doom, and more. Its perhaps most notable claim to fame was an original creation by Stan Lee called Ravage.
Created with artist Paul Ryan, Ravage was the CEO of an environmental watchdog company. Framed for murder for questioning the often-fatal methods of his sinister parent company, Alchemax, he became a fugitive. Lee only wrote the first seven issues of Ravage 2099, but the character would go on to be an interesting footnote in Marvel's history.
9 JUST IMAGINE: BATMAN
In 2001, the impossible happened: Stan Lee wrote a comic for the Distinguished Competition, DC Comics. Called Just Imagine, it saw Lee teaming up with some of the biggest artists in comics to reimagine DC's most iconic superheroes. It even had a Crisis-style crossover at the end.
The first issue featured Lee's take on Batman, together with artist Joe Kubert. Many of Lee's takes added a Marvel-style alliterative secret identity. In Batman's case, he became Wayne Williams. Like the original, he had no superpowers, but unlike Bruce Wayne, Wayne Williams was black. Like Ravage, funnily, Batman is framed for a crime he didn't commit, and sent to prison, where he takes the first steps to becoming a superhero.
The superhero Solarman found his origins far from Stan Lee and Marvel. Created in 1979 by David Oliphant and Deborah Kalman, Solarman was meant to educate children about alternative energy, in response to the 1970s energy crisis. First published at Pendulum Press, a children's educational publishing company, Solarman was given only three issues before going dormant.
In the 1980s, Stan Lee and then-Marvel-president Jim Galton approached Oliphant about publishing a Solarman comic through Marvel. Oliphant agreed, and together with Lee created a new version of Solarman. This Solarman would appear in two self-titled issues in 1989, and an animated pilot in 1992.
7 JUST IMAGINE: WONDER WOMAN
The Just Imagine series would continue, this time with Lee and artist Jim Lee reimagining Wonder Woman. Jim Lee was a few years into his tenure at DC, after coming hot off the roaring success and subsequent downfall of Image Comics in the 1990s. Just Imagine proved to be one of his first major projects at DC, before Batman: Hush the next year.
The double-Lee Wonder Woman was also racebent from her original incarnation, this time as Maria Mendoza, a Peruvian activist protesting the excavation of an Incan holy site near her village. The excavation leads to the death of her father, and she is granted the power of the Incan sun god to avenge him and the desecration of the holy site.
6 WHAT IF? #200 (FANTASTIC FOUR)
One of Stan Lee's most iconic comics stories is Fantastic Four #48-50, better known as "The Galactus Trilogy". Together with fellow comics titan Jack Kirby, Lee introduced the planet-eater Galactus, alongside Silver Surfer (his herald), and the Watcher, an ancient being observing all that happens in the universe.
In 2011, What If?, a speculative series about what might happen in iconic stories went differently, published its 200th issue. While the main event was connected to Marvel's latest crossover, Siege, it also brought Stan Lee back to write a speculative take on his original story. In it, the Watcher stops Galactus only to be doomed to take his place.
5 JUST IMAGINE: SANDMAN
The Sandman character has a long and storied history at DC Comics. First appearing as a "mystery men" pulp hero in 1939, the title would later be passed on to a traditional superhero in the 1970s, before finally coming to rest with Dream of the Endless in Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
Given the other characters Stan Lee reimagined, the Sandman seems like the odd one out. His superhero identity wasn't very widely known, and the mystery man or Dream wouldn't really fit into the Just Imagine universe. Together with Walt Simonson, Lee created a new version of the traditional superhero; an astronaut granted powers and tasked with defeating evil dreams plaguing the waking world.
Of all the strange projects Stan Lee took on over the years, Heroman is probably the weirdest. In 2009, 86 year-old Lee wasn't letting age slow him down, and signed on with a number of companies to develop new properties with them. One of them was the manga and later anime series Heroman.
Featuring a very Peter Parker-esque protagonist Joey Jones (wouldn't be a Stan Lee project without alliterative names), the series sees Jones thrust into a superhero lifestyle after he finds an expensive robot toy, naming him Heroman. The toy is struck by lightning transforming it into a giant robot, and Joey is thrust into battle against invading aliens.
3 JUST IMAGINE: SUPERMAN
Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple. What more is there to say about the most iconic superhero out there? THE Superhero? Together with John Buscema, Stan Lee looked at tackling the question of what Superman would look like if created by one of the biggest names in comics.
Like Clark Kent, Lee's Superman is a refugee from the planet Krypton. He arrived to Earth as an adult, after serving as the weakest member of the Kryptonian police force. After an altercation with a criminal results in teleportation to Earth, he sets out to create a peaceful future so that Earth can develop the technology to send him home.
2 JUST IMAGINE: JLA
While Stan Lee had a big hand in creating Marvel's superhero team, the Avengers, he was just following off of DC's earlier efforts with the Justice Society and the Justice League. A collection of Earth's most powerful heroes, brought together to face threats they can't stop on their own. With the individual heroes reinvented, it was time for Lee to bring them together.
Together with Jerry Ordway, Lee began to lay the groundwork for the Crisis finale of Just Imagine in JLA. He brought together Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Green Lantern to battle Reverend Darrk, the herald of a being called Crisis. Although they defeat him, he swears he will return.
1 SILVER SURFER: PARABLE
While Stan Lee is almost unrivaled for sheer volume of writing output, he also leaned heavily on his artists. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were also huge contributors to the creation of many Marvel superheroes, and titans of the medium in their own right.
Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius, was one of the most massively talented and legendary artists working in comics. Best known for The Incal with Alejandro Jodorowsky, he once teamed with Stan Lee to create Silver Surfer: Parable. The story saw a re-imagining of Galactus' attack on Earth, this time solely opposed by the Silver Surfer.