Working alongside fellow comics titans like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby during the 1960s, Lee was instrumental in sparking what became known as “the Marvel revolution,” a shift in superhero comics that emphasized flawed protagonists expressing humanistic values. Concepts and plots remained as colorful and weird as ever. But Marvel characters, written with complex, realistic personalities and mundane private lives, often had to resolve family, dating and even financial challenges while protecting the public from an increasingly packed roster of supervillains.
This new approach to superhero comics debuted in “The Fantastic Four,” a team of superheroes presented as a dysfunctional but loving family unit that Lee co-created with Kirby in 1961. Lee credited his wife, Joan, for