What is Going On With Stan Lee?! UPDATED!

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UPDATED WITH MESSAGE FROM STAN LEE AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE

 

Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

I’ve been reluctant to comment on some of the recent developments involving Stan Lee in his very advanced age, because the more I think about it, the more I realize there’s just so much tabloid trash being printed about him that it’s become mind-boggling, compounding the perception the mainstream press really does despise him despite all the good he tried to bring in his heyday. This LA Times article seems to be one of the better takes on his now sadly crumbling life after his wife Joan passed away, and he’s been exploited by greedy guzzlers for who knows how long. Although, it’s not very accurate on the state of Marvel itself:

 

If the life of Stan Lee were turned into a superhero movie, it would be difficult to tell the good guys from the bad.

A battle over the Marvel Comics legend’s legacy is underway, featuring a cast of characters whose competing agendas make the plot of “Avengers: Infinity War” look simple by comparison. A man who says he is Lee’s manager and caretaker was arrested this month in Los Angeles on suspicion of filing a false police report and is being investigated over alleged elder abuse, according to court filings. A court has placed Lee, 95, under the temporary guardianship of an attorney, who has received a restraining order against the manager.

Since his wife, Joan, died last year at age 93, Lee has found himself surrounded by people with unclear motives and intentions, friends and colleagues say. The decline of his private life stands in stark contrast to the soaring success of Marvel, the brand he helped to create five decades ago. The blockbuster movie adaptations released by Disney’s Marvel Studios are perennial box-office winners that have helped to keep Lee’s influence thriving among new generations.

At the center of the current dispute is Lee himself — no longer able to see or hear well, but still active enough to attend red-carpet premieres and make cameo appearances in Marvel movies. On one side is Keya Morgan, a 42-year-old memorabilia collector and dealer who became close to Lee and served as his manager and de-facto gatekeeper. On the other side is Lee’s 68-year-old daughter, J.C. Lee, and her attorney, Kirk Schenck, who have battled Morgan over access to her father and his money.

 

According to recent news, this Morgan character, who actually wore a bowler hat in public (pretty hilarious, given that bowlers lost popularity even in Britain after the mid-60s), is the very felon they speak of, as is discussed further in the article. But first, let me take a moment to question the exact meaning of Marvel’s “soaring success”. The publisher itself has largely ceased to be a success, with tons of titles not only delivering in dismal mere thousands rather than millions (when I looked at ICV2 charts, there’s probably even more selling below 10,000 pamphlet copies now than 5 years ago), but as a result of their poor conduct, they’ve even caused many specialty stores to close down. And if film producer Kevin Feige’s commentsare correct, their film fortunes could soon change as well, as social justice propaganda looks to be making its way into their movies. It’s even happened to some extent with their animation projects as they’ve begun shoehorning the Kamala Khan version of Ms. Marvel and the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man into cartoons. Even DC’s had a few noticeable projects involving their own SJW-pandering creations like the Simon Baz version of Green Lantern showing up, while Hal Jordan seems to be sidelined in their favor.

So it’s tiresome to read about Marvel supposedly on a roll when they stopped rolling a long time ago, and disappointing the paper won’t admit that. Let’s continue to more of the main subjects in focus:

 

Caught in the crossfire has been, among others, Pow Entertainment, the L.A.-based media company Lee co-founded in 2001. Lee sued Pow for $1 billion this year, claiming his business partners had sold the company under fraudulent circumstances. Lee’s attorney referred all questions to Morgan, who declined to comment.

[…] Those who know the man behind “Spider-Man” and the “Hulk” say his latest difficulties are part of a larger pattern.

“Stan Lee has a long history of having shady characters around him,” said Bob Batchelor, the author of a biography of the comic book legend that was published last year.

“If Stan Lee had a Spidey-sense for con men, the world would be better off and his fortunes would be better off,” Batchelor said. “But he doesn’t seem to have that.”

Known for a gregarious nature and affection for his fans, Lee has welcomed many people into his orbit. One was Morgan, who took over his personal and professional affairs after his wife died. Morgan has accompanied Lee to movie premieres and acted as his representative by approving interviews and other appearances.

He was arrested June 11 on suspicion of filing a false police report. The circumstances remain murky, but it was related to a disagreement with security personnel at Lee’s home in the Hollywood Hills. Lee’s temporary guardian has obtained a restraining order against Morgan.

Last year, Morgan was convicted of threatening to kill someone in a dispute between his mother and a West Hollywood property manager, according to court records. He was sentenced to probation and required to attend anger management counseling.

 

See, this is the depressing downside about Lee’s estate affairs – he evidently lost the mental capacity long ago to recognize bad apples when they were lurking around, and wound up associating with a bunch of Wilson Fisks who’ve been milking him for all he’s worth, apparently because a guy widely recognized in pop culture makes a great source for robbing blind. One of his own security staff, Max Anderson, was also convicted on assault charges. Why, even Marvel’s own staff, most recently when Axel Alonso was EIC, took advantage of him to serve as a shield against fans protesting their SJW-catering and censorship tactics, and later threw him under the bus after he fell victim to tabloid accusations of sexual groping; they refused to defend him or condemn the defamation conducted. When he’s gone, I’m sure they’re going to really betray him, as only so many veterans have been, not the least being Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. No gratitude for legends.

 

“Many celebrities aren’t focused,” said Kenneth Abdo, a partner at Fox Rothschild who specializes in entertainment law. “If people don’t take matters into their own hands when they are able to do so, it could fall into the wrong hands.”

In some cases, a court will appoint a conservator to oversee an individual’s finances. Britney Spears fell under conservatorship 10 years ago after the pop star’s public meltdown.

Lee doesn’t appear to have a conservator. Instead, a judge this month appointed attorney Tom Lallas as his “guardian ad litem” — in essence, a temporary overseer for the duration of the legal dispute.

 

Maybe the best way to defend his riches is to contribute special donations to commercial art museums, the kind of places that already carry a lot of the stuff he dabbled in when he was active in publishing. Libraries are a good choice too.

 

Though his achievements in the comic world are unparalleled, Lee is known to be a poor businessman who has made bad deals and entrusted his money to people with dubious intentions.

During the dot-com era, he lost a significant sum in the collapse of his company Stan Lee Media. One of his partners was Peter Paul, a convicted drug dealer. When the company declared bankruptcy in 2001, Paul faced fraud charges over manipulating the company’s stock price, fled to Brazil and was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2009.

Lee’s assets were the subject of another lawsuit that he filed in April against a former business associate, Jerardo Olivarez, accusing him of fraudulent behavior that resulted in the loss of “a tremendous amount of money.”The suit alleges that Olivarez improperly withdrew money from Lee’s accounts, modified trust documents and used Lee’s money to buy himself a condominium. The suit also alleges a bizarre scheme involving selling Lee’s blood as a collectible item.

 

It’s utterly disgusting alright. People who saw a vulnerable pop culture icon whose status they thought made him perfect for exploiting to make bank at his expense, because his mental state clearly deteriorated, particularly after he’d turned 70, an age when you’re bound to fall apart. One expert said:

 

Appointing a conservator to oversee Lee’s finances could be the only way to bring order to the chaos, said Laura Zwicker, a partner at Greenberg Glusker, where she advises clients on estate planning and other issues.

She said people of Lee’s age can be cognizant at one moment, while at other moments confused and inconsistent.

“They start losing control and with that feeling of loss of control, they don’t know whom to trust,” she said.

 

So again, it’s no wonder Lee was so easy to exploit, and his relatives/friends/attorneys clearly weren’t much help. Though I get the feeling even his spendthrift daughter’s not as bad as at least one report implied earlier.

At his age, Lee shouldn’t be seeking business deals on showbiz topics anymore, because it’s clear it’s not leading anywhere. Working the convention circuit is one thing, but at this point, he shouldn’t be doing anything that could involve use of his fortunes, lest they be stolen and exploited. And his lawyers should carefully examine everyone.

One hopefully good bit of news lately is that since Axel Alonso left Marvel, they seem to have stopped exploiting him to use as a shield against their detractors protesting all the SJW tactics they sank to. But for as long as Lee’s still around, he’ll need a reliable conservator and lawyer who’ll see to it that Stan the Man’s not taken advantage of for get-rich-quick pyramid schemes, and make sure he only spends his remaining days attending conventions and other events, if anything. Then, he’ll hopefully find the peaceful retirement he should really have.

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Here’s an update by Jeremy Hamby of the Quartering discussing the recent announcement from POW Entertainment. This is the former company that Stan Lee co-founded, but was embroiled in a lawsuit. Suddenly, that lawsuit has been dropped.

Here is that announcement from POW Entertainment:

To our fellow fans:

As we have always said, we at Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment are first and foremost fans! We also take very seriously our responsibility as guardians of the Stan Lee brand and legacy. One major hallmark of this legacy is the open, honest and direct relationship Stan has always had with his fans. To help Stan continue the tradition started with Stan’s Soapbox, POW!’s social media team created and has for years solely managed therealstanlee Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, as well as the Facebook page realstanlee, with Stan’s participation and approval.

But, recently access and management of the Twitter account was temporarily out of our (and Stan’s) control. That situation has now been rectified. Stan Lee’s social media accounts are once again being exclusively managed by POW! with Stan’s participation.

Unlike certain recent statements that were falsely presented in Stan’s voice, we want to assure you of our promise to be completely transparent and honest with you, the fans. POW! would never want to break your trust or put you in a position where you are unsure of Stan’s participation in his social media.

With that said, this is our pledge to you:

We at POW! Entertainment will only write in Stan’s voice when it is actually Stan making a personal statement. These messages will include the signoff “Stan” at the end, so you will know exactly what content is coming from Stan himself. All other posts and articles will be shared by POW! Entertainment to deliver Stan-influenced content and general pop culture news.

We have also come to realize that someone was using the direct message feature on Twitter to send notes posing as Stan to many of the industry’s top creators and talent. We will never try to fool anyone with messages. If it’s Stan reaching out, we will say so; if it’s a member of his staff, we will have that noted as well.

In the spirit of full transparency, even when it’s Stan speaking, a member of his social media staff is usually typing and posting the articles, entries, and comments. We also invite you to tell Stan what you think, ask questions and send messages of support. He wants to hear what you have to say and occasionally Stan may even respond directly to your message.

We thank you for supporting Stan, and we look forward to once again sharing content from Stan and Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment with you across all social media platforms!

P.S. Some of the questionable material referred to above will remain in Stan’s timelines and social media feeds. For now, these posts will not be deleted for reasons that will become obvious over time.

EXCELSIOR!

-Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment

Praise Odin! Stand the Man himself has responded to all the recent developments via video tweet.

 

Your thoughts?

Top article originally published at FourColorMediaMonitor.
Follow Avi Green on Twitter @AviGreen1
Follow Jeremy Hamby of the Quartering on Twitter TheQuartering

Avi Green

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1