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Virgin Comics And Stan Lee's POW! Entertainment To Partner

Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man and the Marvel Comics Universe of superhero characters, announced he will be forming a new partnership with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Comics.

Lee is one of the most influential figures in popular culture and the character entertainment industry, having created characters that generate billions of dollars in sales from comics, films, animation, merchandise and games. In his new partnership with Virgin, Lee will return to comic books as both a writer and editor, to oversee the creation of an entirely new universe of superhero characters.

"What a dream assignment!" enthused the always-ebullient Lee. "I can't wait to start pitting my newest, most exciting superheroes against comicdom's most powerful, diabolical super villains and then have the fun of tossing them into far-out, thrill-a-minute adventures to challenge the readers' imagination! And who better to share in the fun, creating wondrous new worlds without limit, than the incredibly talented and dedicated guys at Virgin Comics!"

"Stan Lee is a cultural icon and we welcome him to his new home, Virgin Comics, for this bold new chapter in his great legacy," said Branson, Virgin Group president and founder.

The new universe will initially be anchored around the exploits of a team of ten superheroes of various backgrounds and origins. As this team evolves, readers will learn that not all of these heroes are what they seem, as infighting, abuses of power and internal struggles will slowly challenge these heroes as they learn the real villains may lurk within themselves.

"As a creator, storyteller and visionary, Stan Lee has created characters that have inspired the imaginations of generations of audiences around the world and spoke to the core of humanity, transcending race, religion and culture," said Virgin Comics' CEO, Sharad Devarajan. "It is our greatest joy to bring him back to the industry he helped define, and though Stan's creations have already changed the face of entertainment, we are confident that the best is yet to come."

As a former Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics, Lee trained some of the industry's most influential creative talents under a system called the "Marvel Method." Though not commonly used in the industry today, Lee's process enables the writer and artist to sculpt the story together from the ground up in iterative stages, rather than writers just delivering a full script to an artist in more of a segmented fashion. As editor of this new superhero universe at Virgin, Lee intends to once again work with artists in a similar fashion, allowing a new generation of artists from the comic book and video game industries an opportunity to learn and collaborate with Lee.

Gill Champion POW!'s President and COO said "The arrangement with Virgin strengthens our position as a leader in creating new high concept superheroes for today's fans. Comic books and other means of new media distribution are a great way to introduce our properties. In Virgin, we have found a partner who understands the importance of Stan's global brand."

The new universe will be unveiled in early 2009 and will initially be launched as a series of ten graphic novels linked into a series of online animated shorts. The story is intended to provide a seamless online and offline experience allowing audiences numerous entry points and engagement synergies as they immerse themselves into this universe of heroes.