Branson’s fledgling Virgin Comics has taken on Lee, the man behind Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Hulk, to create a new line of characters. The new venture will see Virgin employing the 85-year-old former president of Marvel Comics as both a writer and editor, overseeing a load of new comics set to launch next year.
‘Stan Lee is a cultural icon and we welcome him to his new home for this bold new chapter in his great legacy,’ said Branson. The Virgin founder has always pushed his ‘kid in a sweetshop’ persona. So it’s apt that his new honcho should be an octogenarian who still spends all his time drawing cartoons.
Branson launched Virgin Comics two years ago, and recently announced tie-ups with with Nicolas Cage and Guy Ritchie, as well as a more unlikely comic-book hero, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. He has also brought back every schoolboy’s favourite, the legendary Dan Dare.
The comics business is the latest eye-catching turn for Branson’s sprawling empire. Just yesterday the entrepreneur was announcing that, through his Virgin Galactic wing, he plans to become the first man to marry a couple in space – on the first Galactic sub-orbital flight next year. And given his upcoming cameos in the new Superman and Bond movies, does Branson have designs on becoming a superhero himself? Running a business by day, parking his Galactic spaceship in the Virgin Forest, and sitting behind banks of supercomputers calculating the finances of his labyrinthine empire.
It may be a welcome step away from his naked publicity stunts, but we can imagine the addition of a cape and spandex pants being only marginally less offensive. But there might be advantages for him. With the addition of superpowers, Branson may soon be doing a Superman, flying round the world fast enough to arrest and reverse the earth’s rotation, eventually turning back time. While Superman used the method to effect an unfeasible rescue of love-interest Lois Lane, Branson could have us all believing that the loss-making Virgin Cola never happened. And that he didn’t get bearded by Murdoch over ITV.