'Soldier Zero' a big Stan Lee hit

Posted: November 15, 2010

Most people, if they were set to turn 88 next month, would be content to have good physical health and their mental faculties intact.

However, Stan Lee has proven yet again that he is not most people. He remarkably, continues to produce exceptional work in the comic field.

He also continues to break industry records.

It was recently announced by BOOM! Studios that the latest creation with his fingerprints, "Stan Lee's Soldier Zero," has sold over 24,000 copies so far, BOOM!'s best-selling comic ever.

Lee can still pull in readers willing to spend their money, but is his book worth the hype?

Absolutely!

This is Lee's best work in decades. Those who have grown wary of his misses in recent years - the "Just Imagine . . ." books for DC, "Ravage 2099" for Marvel - will be pleasantly surprised. Instead of new takes on classic characters that don't ring true or trying to create a character closer to the "grim and gritty" archetype that has been done to death, Lee again gives readers something simple but magical.

"Soldier Zero" stars Stewart Travers, a wheelchair-bound college student who represents Everyman and who has to overcome more obstacles than most.

When an alien parasite falls to Earth, Travers becomes infected - and goes through super-human changes that no mortal could imagine.

Except, of course, Stan Lee.

Though the extent of Lee's contributions to the character and plot are unclear - Paul Cornell is officially listed as writer and gives Lee's concepts a modern sensibility - there is one trait about Soldier Zero that makes it obvious Lee's input is a large part of its DNA: You can call Soldier Zero a hero without reservation and with a straight face.

This is fun, entertaining stuff.

Anti-bullying strip

gets political

Local activist Van Stone announced that his anti-bullying-themed comic strip, "Monster TEAM Values," has added Rep. Kenyatta Johnson as a producer.

"The characters Roger Robbie the Hip-hop Raccoon and U7, Hip-hop Superhero and Friends, are compelling because they present a strong message - namely, that bullying prevention is desperately needed in Philly," Stone said. "Students and adults present long-standing risk of harm to other students and adults. I'm positive the state will do more because of Rep. Kenyatta Johnson's help."

Stone feels his efforts (available at frontpagenews.us) can have an impact and contribute to anti-bullying efforts throughout the city and state.

"They will work as special tools to improve the special custodian relationship a school and a neighborhood has over its students, owning a duty to protect the pupils in its custody from dangers reasonably to be anticipated," Stone said. "Hopefully the increased awareness can lead to anti-bullying legislation. I believe this can be achieved with Rep. Johnson's oversights."

Stone also announced Deb Young, Michelle Young and Bill Lloyd as new artists for the strip.

JMS Leaving DC titles

DC announced that J. Michael Straczynski, not even halfway through massively hyped yearlong runs on "Superman" and "Wonder Woman," will ditch both titles, purportedly so he can work on a sequel to his "Superman: Earth One" graphic novel.

In fact, he is taking a one-to five-year year sabbatical from monthly comics.

Even though other writers will supposedly finish Straczynski's arcs on the two icons using his story notes, Comics Guy feels this a joke.

Why is rushing a sequel to the overrated "Superman: Earth One" more important than fulfilling obligations to readers excited by Straczynski's bold new takes on the characters?

Straczynski points to increased sales numbers on the titles so far during his run as proof he did his job.

No, doing his job would involve finishing the runs that those additional fans were promised, which is what they won't get, making DC appear directionless and callous toward its fanbase.

Comics Guy is not happy. Is it any wonder Marvel has routinely beaten DC for decades?

E-mail comicsguy@phillynews.com

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