This year has been an extremely bad start for comicbook legend and Marvel’s chairman emeritus, Stan Lee. We previously reported about his current battle with pneumonia, and purportedly cancelling his future comic-con engagements (To date, however: ComicCon Asia has not cancelled Lee’s appearance in Manila). We also did express our skepticism over Stan Lee’s appearance in Manila, but somehow, all the reports piling up about him simply aggravate our suspicions further. Even local comicbook veterans, like Gerry Alanguilan, are speaking up against Lee’s Manila appearance.

In a span of two months, since the start of 2018, Stan Lee has had a ton of stressful domestic issues, and all we could ask is “What’s going on with Stan Lee?” Many people have been speculating that things went out of hand since his wife of 70 years, Joan Lee, passed away July of last year. But we’re only seeing the effects of it now.

To keep you up to speed, here’s how his year has been so far (sources linked):

Bouts of sickness aside, there seems to be a confusion over the real events surrounding Lee and Anderson in these recent events. Take note that Anderson role as a road manager is to make sure Lee gets the proper care and attention during his event guestings, act as a bodyguard against rabid fans, and screen the guest invitations in the most stringent manner. With Anderson out of the picture, it would be near-impossible to contact or invite Lee to future engagements, more so fulfill his already-agreed upon obligations (notably, ComicCon Asia).

The Daily Mail reported that Anderson allegedly got aggressive toward Lee’s only child, JC Lee. This prompted the daughter to seek help from the police, kicking Anderson out of Lee’s West Hollywood home. However, many comicbook industry veterans believe that Anderson’s firing was not according to Lee’s wishes, but rather of Lee’s “camp,” someone else pulling the strings behind the Marvel icon. It is also said that Lee was completely aware of Anderson’s felony charges in 2002, and still hired the latter nonetheless. Anderson, on the other hand, was seen as the son that Lee never had, always in Lee’s beck and call, especially the legend’s public outings. Long-time artist, Neal Adams, even went on record to say that, in his conversation with Anderson, the latter expressed sincere concern over Lee’s situation and is becoming worried sick to the point of crying.

We’re going to the point of speculation here and say that someone in Lee’s camp is manipulating the strings in preparation for the icon’s eventual passing. Let’s face it, Lee is 95 years old. Although he still looks pretty spry for a centenarian, there are forces behind Lee that would want a foothold of the estate he’ll be leaving behind. So far, Lee has been isolated from some of the people he trusts, and Lee is unable to reach out and speak truthfully about the matter.

Some would say Lee’s daughter might be to blame, but we’re not pointing the finger at her. JC Lee is the sole heiress to Stan Lee’s estate. If anything were to happen to Lee, JC gets everything, which makes it a moot point to shun Anderson, the nurses, and the lawyer out of the picture. Someone else in Lee’s “camp” wants something from the icon, and is staying hidden from the public eye until the time is right.

Is it about the money? Highly doubtful, since Lee’s personal fortune is only listed as around US$50 million, a mere fraction compared to what Marvel earns with its films. He never gets a share of the profit the MCU earns from its movies, and the executive producer role is just an honorary title. He does get compensated for his cameos, and receives US$1 million per year as a salary for life from Marvel.

Is it about the rights to the characters he created? Also highly doubtful. Lee may have created Spider-Man, the Avengers, and many other Marvel heroes, but the copyrights to these have and always will be with Marvel. Or is it about his company, POW Entertainment? Also probably not, since the company has been slowly sinking, and has been reported to be trading stocks at a mere 1 cent per share.

Are we to take things we’ve read et prima facie instead? At face value, we can probably surmise that Lee, despite his sharp mind and body at the age of 95, is slowly starting to unravel and give up. And it all began when he lost his wife of 70 years last year. Now, this is a painful thing to read, especially with what Neal Adams also relayed to Bleeding Cool:

[Max Anderson] spent hours and days trying to bring Stan out of his suicidal depression over Joanie… And sat with him watching sports before Stan fell asleep… And Max put him to bed.

If we’re to accept this at face value, then Lee is probably suffering from a bout of mental health concerns. Given that he has carers/nurses at his beck and call, his old age, and the loss of his wife, it will come as no surprise that Lee may actually be clinically depressed, suicidal, and may even suffer from bouts of dementia, apart from his physical ailments. Are these recent occurrences, then, a cause for Stan Lee to push away the people closest to him?

Hopefully, we’d get answers from The Man himself, and hopefully, he comes clean with all the disconcerting news surrounding him recently. As for his ComicCon Asia guesting in Manila, it stands to reason that he is not the most sound condition to appear before a capacity crowd. It might be better if the organizers search for an alternate, instead of still forcing this troubled icon.

We wish nothing but the best for the comicbook industry’s legendary icon. And we hope that all these challenges that face Stan Lee will come to an end soon.