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Monday, July 02, 2018 

Stan Lee needs a decent conservator

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 comments are 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 began shoehorning the Muslim Ms. Marvel and possibly other SJW-pandering characters like the Miles Morales Spider-Man into cartoons. Even DC's had a few noticeable projects involving their own SJW-pandering creations like the Muslim 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. These modern leftist scum have 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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This post is written with good intentions, but it comes across as patronizing. Elderly people can often become confused with the loss of a life-long spouse, but it is a bit much to say he lost it in his seventies, over twenty years ago. And Lee has been a liberal all his life, so the line about him being exploited to justify liberal idealism seems off; that is the same agenda he has always supported.

"because his mental state clearly deteriorated, particularly after he'd turned 70, an age when you're bound to fall apart."

Let's see now - Trump is 72 and showing his age, Hillary Clinton is 70, Netanyahu is a baby at 68. Biden is 75 and thinking about running in 2020. We are in trouble. Luckily Merkel, at 64, might have a few good years left.

As another person pointed out, Stan Lee's unfortunately been very liberal for quite some time. Heck, with his little start up company, he apparently bought into actually donating to Hillary Clinton via more than four million dollars in campaign funds, which is an extremely illegal use of campaign funds, as you can see here: https://youtu.be/0JGAt6LqJvw I'd link you to another site, but unfortunately, it got replaced with a porn site, and to make matters worse, it's not even on archive. That's why I'm not exactly all that trusting of him.

Besides, correct me if I'm mistaken, but didn't he praise the infamous reveal a couple years back from Nick Spencer that Captain America was a closet HYDRA agent as a "clever twist" or something? I'm not sure he'd be the best person to defend right now even ignoring his politics.

Just about every Marvel hero had at one time or another either temporarily turned evil or criminal, or had to face an alternate universe parallel version of himself. Stan Lee wrote a lot of those stories. There was nothing really unusual about the Hydra Capt America storyline, except that the explanation was left a mystery for a few months and it was spoiled by becoming a disorganized mega-crossover.

One of the biggest, most notorious differences about the Cap-as-Hydra crossover in Secret Empire was that it was very heavy-handed (the time-warp effects were what really sank it), with the far-left politics behind the project jutting out very blatantly, along with the writers' open contempt for fans. That's what made it extremely bad.

Anyway, recalling that Lee did wind up defending the awful story and acting as apologist for it at one of the convention panels he spoke at 2 years ago, yeah, it's regrettable he didn't show the guts to avoid being used as the tool Marvel's execs wanted to exploit him for, and certainly makes it difficult to decide if we should be so forgiving, no matter how old he is at this point. It's a real shame, because he threw Jack Kirby and Joe Simon under the bus when he did it, and made a mockery of his own fandom for one of the first comics he'd written when he first started out as a writer in the Golden Age. If he understands Axel Alonso's project was wrong and unfair to fans, that's why he could at least apologize, as it really undermined the perception he cares about the characters he'd been a shepard for back in the day.

Secret Invasion showed an alternate reality Steve Rogers who had been raised by fascists and owed them debts of loyalty; someone who had the same strengths of will and purpose as the real Captain America, but who used them to commit evil acts that he seemed to find repugnant in order to achieve what he believed to be a greater good; and it showed part of him dying each time he did so. It also showed how Captain America, with minimal super abilities, is still the most effective hero in the Marvel multi-verse, using his brains to, if only temporarily, outwit and outmaneuver all the other more powerful heroes combined, bending gods to his will, only to be defeated in the end by his real self. That is not throwing Simon and Kirby under any bus!

There were definite parallels to Trump, a Trump unencumbered by the rule of law. Alternate Steve's policies towards the Inhumans echoed those of Trump towards Muslims and immigrants; Steve's speech to the U.N. echoed Trump's attitude towards NATO allies. If anything, the parallels seem stronger now than they were then, now that we have seen how Trump conducts affairs of state. Trump would see that as an insult to Trump; but why is it an insult to fans? (Other than the usual insult of "let's see how many issues of how many marginal titles we can get you to buy by slapping secret invasion tie-in on the covers".)

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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