In 1992, Stan Lee appeared in a direct-to-video series called Comic Book Greats interviewing well-known comics creators. But one particular episode fascinates people today: his takedown of Rob Liefeld and Todd MacFarlane. The young artists attempt to create a comic book hero in twenty minutes. Their creation, Overkill, is the epitome — and seeming self-parody — of the Image Comics aesthetic at the time. Adorned with gargantuan shoulder pads, miscellaneous rivets and pouches, and sporting Liefeld’s distinctive Cable face, the design will set off memories for anyone reading comics at the time. Lee, for his part, feels no reservation in offering his critique of their collaboration.
The full length video makes the rounds online every so often, as seen in this 2011 io9 article. But the more recent cutdown version, highlighting Lee’s sassy remarks, reveals as much about Lee as it does the artists. Though quick-witted and funny, Lee legitimately questions the design for potential story reasons. How does Overkill put on all this gear? Why would he dress this way? Wouldn’t he trip on those wires? It’s not difficult to think of Lee asking similar questions of artists back in the Marvel bullpen.
As the years have worn on and Lee’s myth grown, his creative involvement in his best known works fluctuates. But here, we see the gears moving, even for something being built as a joke. And, honestly, its inspiring to see him asking the right questions and feeling free to comment on certain deficiencies in both artists styles.
Also, it’s just entertaining. Particularly for Lee’s parting shot.