On the occasion of Stan Lee's 65th year working at Marvel, comes this one-shot, with a lead story written by Stan Lee himself, with other stories by Joss Whedon and Fred Hembeck with a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #87 included as well.
As Stan Lee is at home alone for an evening, he decides to make his famous super hero cookies. From the window, Spider-Man suddenly appears and climbs into the apartment. As Stan works towards getting his cookies made, Spider-Man complains to Stan that all he ever does is fight villain after villain, without ever getting any credit for it or any goodwill and just being dumped on by everyone else including cops. Stan makes Spidey realize that he's being selfish and not thinking about the industry which depends on him, so Spider-Man takes off to save the day once more. As Stan enjoys some cookies, he's glad he convinced Spidey to keep in the game, because otherwise he'd have lost a bundle. Mosquito Man confronts Spidey about not quitting, and how he'll never get the chance to take Spidey's place now.
In the Joss Whedon-penned story, Steve Rennitz meets alternate reality versions of himself at the Interdimensional Comicon. They share comics, which are heavily altered in different realities, before Steve finally gets frustrated by the weirdness and the fact that no one knows who Stan Lee is. Finally, he runs into Stan Lee at the Comicon, who tells him why no one else knew who he was.
Fred Hembeck illustrates a line of characters waiting to meet Stan Lee, including himself, the original Beetle, Percival Pinkerton, and Princess Python.
And the reprinted story is Amazing Spider-Man #87, featuring Peter's reveal of his identity to his family and friends while suffering from a flu.
The lead story is written by Lee, and features Spider-Man dropping in on Lee and asking him why he has to keep fighting supervillains his entire life. It's a fun and silly story, with the trademarked Stan Lee depreciating humour and fun. There's some nice jibes and jokes made, with the ending having an appropriate Stan Lee ending. The artwork by Coipel is actually very well suited to this story, and it's a light-hearted and fun looking visual. The representation of Lee is great as well, very iconic. Even Lee's trademarked glasses are present.
The second story, written by Joss Whedon, is fun and absurd, as a comic fan and seller goes to an Interdimensional Comicon, and ends up meeting alternate reality versions of himself and discussing the various different comics from those universes, with great visual gags by Gaydos which really made me chuckle, parodying the covers of Fantastic Four #1 and Amazing Fantasy #15, as well as a pivotal storyline involving Gwen Stacy, and the banner originally used. It's a silly and fun story, and the ending is cheesy, but also feels very authentic for a Stan Lee moment. Just after the cheesy line is delivered, there's what I think is my favourite all-time comic book line ever written- "I'm a Stan Lee. I sell meats." Once you read it in context, you'll know what I'm talking about. The artwork by Gaydos is perfectly suited for this story, and Whedon hits some great comedic notes.
The third original story is a piece by Fred Hembeck, as he waits in line to see Stan Lee and ends up in line with Princess Python, the original Beetle, and Percival Pinkerton of the Howling Commando's. It's a nice little piece, honest and funny.
The reprint is the second major unmasking that Spider-Man ever had in the comics (the first being in issue #12 of Amazing Spider-Man, when Doc Ock took off his mask and then thought he was just being played and threw Parker away), as Peter while under the influence of an awful flu and fever revealed his identity to his family and friends, and then had to come up with a way to conceal it again and throw them off. Comic continuity geek that I am, the second last page is a continuity gaffe, and if you know anything about the death of George Stacy, you'll know what I mean.
It is what it is- a fun romp, an enjoyable set of stories based around Stan Lee. Whedon's story is the smartest, with great takes on the differences between comics in the different universes (I love Normal Four #1's cover), whereas Stan puts his finger on the silliness of himself interacting with Spider-Man. The art by the different teams is extremely capable and enjoyable, and of course the reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #87 is gorgeous thanks to the classic John Romita Sr. pencils.