It is common knowledge that Stan “The Man” Lee created Marvel’s biggest superheroes but many are unaware of his output after the Silver Age. This "ideas man" who cultivates his own larger-than-life persona has stayed very busy throughout the last two decades. He has given fans countless new heroes and villains in comics, animated features, live action films and TV, web series, manga, anime, illustrated novels and more.
With this comic industry icon being named a Disney Legend in early 2017, we thought it would be a good time to look at some of his post-Marvel creations. We've compiled a list of the best concepts and characters that Stan has developed through his former company Stan Lee Media and his current venture POW! Entertainment. We chose a couple of these entries because they’re so bad, they’re good. We’ll leave it up to you to guess which ones fall into that category.
15 THE DATA RAIDERS
Before Stan started his much more renowned POW! Entertainment, he had Stan Lee Media. The company was founded to create web-based projects. SLM is responsible for “The Accuser,” “The Drifter” and the property these heroes are from, “The 7th Portal.” The series premiered on Shockwave in February of 2000 and ran for 20 episodes on the site. When SLM partnered with Fox Latin America, the show was also shown on TV in South America.
The plotline of the series was that five young beta game testers are turned into superheroes so that they can protect the Earth against threats from throughout the multiverse. The Data Raiders include: The Thunderer, who has sound-based powers; The Streak, who is super fast; Oxblood, who is super strong; Imitatia, who can the shape-shift; Conjure Man, who is a magician and Gossamer Girl, who can phase. The guide/mentor figure that puts them on their mission is named Izayus and he is voiced by Stan Lee himself. Fun fact: The marketing for this series popularized the term “webisode.”
Stan Lee Media declared bankruptcy in 2000, but Stan then started up POW! Entertainment with two partners in 2001. Their first big project was an adult themed animated series for Spike called “Stripperella” in 2003. It starred actress Pamela Anderson (“Baywatch”) in the lead role. While it may be surprising that a creator with a squeaky clean image like Stan “The Man” Lee could be involved with such low brow entertainment, know that he was also working on a animated series featuring Hugh Hefner and his Bunnies at one point. We’re not judging. However, much of the sexual innuendo here did seem to be pandering to the lowest common denominator.
The plot is about, you guessed it, a pole dancer named Erotica Jones who is secretly a special agent with special abilities. Some of the other characters on the show include her brother Chipperella, who is inexplicably a stripper/secret agent too, the head of the agency she works for, Chief Stroganoff and the villainous Queen Clitoris. Yeah, it’s all pretty on the nose.
13 THE CONDOR
After doing “Stripperella” with Spike, Stan’s next animation projects were two direct-to-video features with Manga Entertainment: “The Condor” and “Mosaic.” Both films aired on the Cartoon Network and hit shelves in 2007. While these movies were widely panned by critics, “The Condor” deserves a mention for a couple of of reasons. First off, it was written by comics legend Marv Wolfman (“The New Teen Titans”). Secondly, it starred Wilmer Valderrama (“From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series”) as the voice of the young protagonist of the story, Tony Valvez aka The Condor. Lastly, being a superhero with a skateboard, The Condor is in exclusive company of TMNT, Night Thrasher, Rocket Racer and El Guapo.
Tony starts the film as a pro skateboarder but when he is severely injured by mind-controlled skaters, it looks like he might not walk again. It turns out he wasn’t the only victim of these automatons, as his scientist parents are killed in a “freak accident” the same night. Luckily for Tony, his tomboy BFF Sammi is a bit of a science wiz and makes him a nano tech suit to help him walk... and get revenge!
Stan has teamed with a lot of different studios and production companies to create comics, movies, TV series and more. Trouble is, he isn't always the most picky when it comes to partners. In 2006, Stan teamed with the FWE Pictures to create this live action superhero film for the SCI-FI Network. FWE had produced two schlocky, low budget science fiction flicks for SCI-FI the year before, so it was unlikely “Stan Lee's Lightspeed” would be any better. It does star the Six Million Dollar Man (Lee Majors) and Sean Connery’s son, Jason Connery, but really that only adds to the B-movie stink of this pic.
The story is about a scientist researching snake skin’s regenerative properties with hopes of saving a terminally ill sister. A series of misfortunes befall him and he loses his sister, his funding and his lab. When a fire leaves him severely burnt, he is forced to test his own experimental treatment. The process heals his burns but turns him into the revenge-driven villain Python. The focus of his vengeance is his friend Daniel, who he believes betrayed him. However, Daniel gains super powers of his own and confronts him, as Lightspeed!
In 2006, Stan Lee and POW! Entertainment once again worked with SCI-FI Network to bring us the “Who Wants To Be Superhero?” TV series. Season 1 of the reality show had 11 wannabe superheroes compete to be featured in a comic written by Stan Lee and star in a movie on SCI-FI. While Stan did not create these heroes, he did mold them with various tests of morality and willpower. The contestants also got a costume makeover that took them all from being cosplayers to movie-quality superheroes... well, B-movie superheroes at least.
The winner of Season 1 was Feedback. This character is a computer genius with the power to generate a feedback field to disrupt electronics. In real life, Matthew Atherton is a software engineer who quit his job to be on the show. Dark Horse released a comic scripted by Stan Lee that outlined Feedback's origin in 2007. “Who Wants To Be Superhero?” got a second season that same year, as well as a kid’s version that aired in the UK in 2009.
10 MIGHTY 7
Like a lot of POW’s projects, there was big plans for this property but they all fizzled out. In 2010 Stan, got together with Archie Comics to launch a new imprint called Stan Lee Comics. The first planned title was “Stan Lee’s Super Seven,” but a lawsuit filed by toy company Super7 halted production. They renamed the project “Stan Lee’s Mighty 7” and in 2012, Stan Lee Comics dropped its premiere issue. The comic was planned as a six-issue miniseries but publication was stopped midway through the run. At the same time, POW! produced an animated movie that was picked up and aired by Hub in 2014. Two more movies and a series had also been planned.
For this story, Stan decided to get a little meta. As he tells it in the opening scene of the movie, his ideas for comics to launch his new imprint have all been rejected by the execs at Archie Comics. However, when he is out one night for a drive, he runs into a group of crashed aliens. He takes them under his wing and trains them to be heroes, while using their story as the basis of his comic at the same time.
Although “The Condor” and “Mosaic” were done in collaboration with Manga Entertainment, neither can be considered anime, even though both do seem to be influenced by the Japanese style of animation. So, the manga that Stan created with Hiroyuki Takei (“Shaman King”) titled “Karakuri Doji Ultimo” was POW!’s first real foray into the Japanese market. The comic premiered in a special issue of manga magazine “Jump Square” in the spring of 2008 and was serialized in “Jump Square” a year later. An English language version was published in “Shonen Jump” from 2009-2001 and the title is now available in collected volumes.
The story is about a mad scientist named Dr. Dunstan (a dead ringer for Stan) who creates two karakuri doji (mechanical boys), Ultimo and Vice. They are supposed to be the embodiment of good and evil. Dustan is from the far future but leaves the boys in Feudal Japan. When we meet the robots in present day, they are still locked in a yin yang-like battle. However, the plot thickens when we learn Dustan has created 100 dojis to test if good or evil is stronger.
8 JOEY & HEROMAN
With the success of “Karakuri Doji Ultimo,” Stan and POW! were quick to introduce another manga title in 2009, “Heroman.” The comic was written by Stan with artist Tamon Ohta illustrating the tale. It started publication in “Monthly Shonen Gangan” in the summer of 2009 and was eventually collected in volumes and translated into English. The manga also spawned an anime series that POW! produced in collaboration with Bones Inc. (“Fullmetal Alchemist”). The series aired on TV Tokyo from April to September 2010.
Stan gave us another of his trademark alliterative names with this story as Joey’s last name is Jones. He is a young orphan who believes that the new “must-have” toy, a robot called Heybo, is the answer to all his problems. Joey can’t afford the pricey bot but is fortunate enough to find a discarded one. He attempts to get it working again but to no avail. However, a strange bolt of lightning not only powers the Heybo up but also transforms him into a giant robo.
7 THE REFLECTION
We know very little about “The Reflection” so far except that it will be a series of half-hour anime episodes created by the team-up of POW! Entertainment and Studio DEEN (“Patlabor” OVA). Well, okay, we do know a bit more. There have been two trailers that dropped at separate comic cons. The first was at Comikaze Expo 2015 and while it didn’t feature any animation, we did get to see stills of a bunch of the characters (including Stan himself). Plus, Stan Lee narrates it. He poses the question: “What would happen if a large group of humans throughout the planet suddenly gained mighty super powers?”
We got our second taste at the LA Comic Con last October and it gave us a look at a robot knight from the first trailer in flight. He nimbly evades a barrage of explosions and the clip ends with him flying into an unnamed city. The teaser’s classic anime music was composed by Trevor Horn.
6 STEVEN LEE
We all know that Stan specializes in writing superhero kids (Spider-Man, X-Men), so it should come as no surprise that yet another entry here is a super-powered teenager. Steven is from “The Zodiac Legacy” series of illustrated novels by Lee, Stuart Moore (“Web of Spider-Man”) and artist Andie Tong (“Tron: Betrayal”). He is just 12 years-old when he finds out about 12 super powers connected to the Zodiac. The Chinese-American minor becomes embroiled in the fight to stop these powers from falling into the hands of those who would use them for evil.
The first book in “The Zodiac Legacy” series is “Convergence,” which was released at the beginning of 2015 through Disney Publishing. A second instalment titled “The Dragon’s Return” dropped almost exactly a year later. The final instalment of the trilogy, “The Balance of Power,” hit stands in early April 2017. If 400+ page tomes are not your bag, the novels spawned a graphic novel series also written by Lee and Moore (but with P.H. Marcondes on art duties). Two volumes have been released by Papercutz thus far, with a third due this July.
5 SOLDIER ZERO
In 2010, Stan teamed with indie sensation BOOM! Studios for three comic titles: "Starborn," "The Traveler" and the flagship of the line, "Soldier Zero." This partnership paired Stan with some of the best creators he had worked with since his Marvel days and the product reflected that fact. For the first arc of “Soldier Zero,” Stan worked with writer Paul Cornell (“Action Comics”) and artist Javier Pina (“Superman”) and then for #5-12, fan-favorite duo Dan Abbnett and Andy Lanning (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) came onboard to take over writing duties. This series started in October of 2010 and finished in September 2011.
As he often did, Stan used this title as a way to include an underrepresented segment of society, in this case wheelchair users. The story concerns a wheelchair-bound college professor named Stuart Trautmann who is a former Marine that was injured in Afghanistan. When he is randomly bonded with an alien suit called Soldier Zero, he becomes one of three superheroes in this new shared universe.
4 THE TRAVELER
For their second joint venture, BOOM! set Stan up with one of the first big names to ever write for them, Mark Waid (“Irredeemable”). The prolific writer, along with popular scribe Tom Peyer (“Legion of Super-Heroes”) and artist Chad Hardin (“Harley Quinn”), told the story of a hero from the future that time-travels to his past (our present) to stop four dangerous criminals from achieving their nefarious goal.
While both of Stan’s other BOOM! superheroes had alien elements, The Traveler was 100% human. Unlike the time-travelling heroes of Marvel and DC, Waid stated in an interview that, “This guy doesn’t care whether he messes with history or not.” He arrives at certain places and times to save people seemingly at random but it soon becomes apparent it is all part of a bigger plan. When “The Traveler” crosses over with Stan’s other two titles, Soldier Zero believes The Traveler is the cause of a number of perilous temporal disruptions and the two come into conflict.
The last title from Stan and BOOM! Studios’ collaboration was “Starborn.” This 12-issue series saw Stan’s ideas fleshed out by writer Chris Roberson (“iZombie”) and visualized by artist Khary Randolph (“Tech Jacket”). The first four issues even had covers by Humberto Ramos ("The Amazing Spider-Man")! The title hits stands in December of 2010 and finished its run just short of a year later.
In this story we are introduced to an aspiring author named Benjamin Warner. Turns out the sci-fi novel he is trying to have published is actually filled with his repressed memories of his alien ancestry and upbringing. He figures this all out when a childhood friend comes back into his life and leads him on a wild adventure across the galaxy to find out the truth about his family and homeworld. In the final issues of Stan's BOOM! titles, there was a crossover that saw Starborn, The Traveler and Soldier Zero unite to defend the Earth against an alien invasion.
2 CHAKRA THE INVINCIBLE
When Stan got together with Sharad Devarajan and his company Graphic India in 2013, they came up with one of Lee’s most popular creations outside of Marvel Comics, Chakra the Invincible. The character is a young resident of Mumbai, India who has one of Stan’s classic alliterative names, Raju Rai. He is the pupil of bleeding-edge scientist Dr. Singh, who has developed a nanite suit that activates the body’s 7 chakras. When a trio of gargantuan goons come to steal Singh’s research, Raju must don the experimental suit.
The Chakra franchise includes a self-titled animated movie, the sequel “Chakra the Invincible: The Rise of Infinitus,” animated shorts on Rovio’s ToonsTV app and a comic book series. In spring of 2016, there was even word that a live action Bollywood adaptation was in the works. Fun fact: The first issue of the comic series starts with Raju stopping some young hooligans from mugging Stan… and that's before he gets his special suit.
1 HARRY CLAYTON
This character is from Stan and Pow!’s latest offering, “Lucky Man.” For those not religiously watching, this is a British live action TV series that started airing on Sky1 in January of 2016, with a second series that ended in April 2017. The story follows Harry Clayton, murder detective by day, gambling addict by night. One evening when his fortunes are low, he meets a mysterious woman at the roulette table. They have a one-night stand and when he wakes the next morning, she has attached an irremovable antique bracelet to his left arm. Turns out this band is a luck charm unlike any other. Trouble is, when Harry gets lucky, people close to him get equally unlucky.
There is also a two-part animated web series titled “Lucky Man: The Bracelet Chronicles” that traces the artifacts’ origin back to ancient China. These episodes document many of the bracelets’ famous (and infamous) past owners and even how the bangle can find a new owner if its bearer dies, not completely unlike a Green Lantern ring!
Do you know of any other of Stan Lee's non-Marvel creations? Let us know in the comments!