Eric S Brown
The world recently lost a great man. At the age of 95, Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee passed away in an L.A. Hospital. No other person has likely ever influenced the world of pop culture like he did. While Stan Lee didn’t create the concept of superheroes, he did put Marvel Comics on the map and certainly changed superheroes forever. He and Jack Kirby created The Fantastic Four and launched the beginning of Marvel Comics as we know them today. Lee also created or co-created many, many other characters from Spider-man and Dr. Strange with Steve Ditko to Daredevil with Bill Everett.
What made Stan Lee’s approach to comics so unique in those early days was that he wanted his heroes to be people. Sure, they could throw around tanks, scale the sides of buildings, or utter incantations that opened dimensional doorways, but unlike the other heroes of that time, they actually had problems and felt emotions. Peter Parker was always struggling for cash. Steve Rogers was lost in a world decades beyond his own. Matt Murdock’s love life was full of ups and down and that’s putting it mildly. Stan Lee humanized his creations and in doing so won over readers around the world. These days, thanks to Stan Lee, there is likely a Marvel character that you can relate to regardless of who you are or what you’re going through.
A great story about Stan Lee, that Chuck Dixon recently mentioned having heard from Denny O’neil, was that during a black out in New York, Marvel’s writers were in the office claiming they were unable to get any work done but Lee showed up with pages of script written on legal paper covered in candle drippings. Stan Lee had a true love and passion for his work that was obvious to anyone reading it. He wanted to create fun stories that readers could enjoy and spent his life doing just that.
A fun piece of trivia about Stan Lee is that a version of him existed in the DC Universe. The late, great Jack Kirby created a parody of Lee in Mister Miracle issue 6 in 1972. The character was named Funky Flashman and appeared not only in that one issue but in quite a few other DC comics through the years including Swamp Thing, Doctor 13, and Adventure Comics.
Even as a hardcore DC Comics’ fan, I have nothing but respect for Stan Lee’s work ethic and creativity. Both were undeniable throughout his life even when seen from afar. So Excelsior Stan Lee. Excelsior. You will be missed.