Marvel recently released a short video of Stan Lee recounting how he met his wife Joan and her role in the origins of the Marvel superhero universe. Recorded in April, it is a moving tribute to Joan Lee, who sadly passed away this past week.
The details in Lee’s story about meeting Joan change from time to time, but this particular account is told with such love and affection, it’s hard to resist it. Also, it follows the broad strokes of the their first encounter. Lee was meant to meet a different person, but was so struck by the young woman’s appearance and accent that he asked her out immediately and never met the person he was initially set up with.
Joan Lee’s role in the creation of The Fantastic Four never waivers in Lee’s re-tellings of the tale. Tired of working for Timely/Atlas/Marvel publisher Martin Goodman, Lee was prepared to quit when Joan suggested creating a comic book the way he wanted to. The resulting title, The Fantastic Four, was an immediate success and began a wave of Marvel Comics engineered by Lee and artist Jack Kirby.
Some versions of the story say Goodman had a more active role. In one apocryphal account, he was golfing with National Periodical Publications’ Jack Liebowitz or Irwin Donenfeld and heard about the sales success of their new team book, Justice League of America. Though the golfing story was eventually debunked, but many say Goodman saw JLA‘s success and asked Lee for a superhero team book. Lee’s oft-cited dissatisfaction with his job did occur around this time. But it can’t be denied that Joan’s encouragement led to the resulting series and the Marvel Comics Universe as we know it.
Ultimately, no matter how accurate Lee’s memories might be, these are the two sweetest stories he ever tells.