Stan Lee — a name very well known within the realm of comics. Here at ComicsVerse, we stan Stan; many of our most nostalgic memories include a Stan Lee comic, whether written by him or one of his many creations. We are extremely saddened by Stan’s passing — but his legacy lives on in the characters and worlds he left behind. He will live on, through each and every one of his readers. As we mourn, we also celebrate: remembering our favorite superheroes, created by real-life legend, Stan Lee.

Stan Lee’s THE AVENGERS

by Raphael Soohoo

1993 was a big year for me in my life: my parents divorced, and I moved from a quietish street in Brooklyn to the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown. My mom was doing what she could to get me through the divorce, and one of the things was she indulged my reading habit. I was a bookish kid, and I loved comic books. It was that year that my mom bought me a bright yellow softcover, Avengers Masterworks.

The art looked blocky and old compared to the stuff I was picking up off the newsstands, but the cover was exciting. Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, Iron Man, and Hulk had their backs against the wall as the threat of Loki loomed in the foreground. I knew who these characters were mostly, thanks to previous comics and trading cards, but I had never read a comic older than myself (I was 9).

Stan Lee: Cover to Avengers Masterworks Volume 01.
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The story gripped me almost immediately. Loki was trying to manipulate the Hulk so that he would be forced into a showdown with Thor. Loki didn’t count on the involvement of Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Wasp. The team fought initially, but then put their differences aside and fought together to defeat Loki.

Then and Now

The book continued with further issues: the team finding Namor, Hulk leaving, the re-emergence of Captain America — all of these issues captured my imagination, and I came to appreciate and respect Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for the very first time.

Stan Lee: Avengers from the first Avengers movie - Tony Stark, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, Thor, and Black Widow strike a pose.
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Fast forward to 2012, and the debut of the Avengers movie. That movie gave me feelings of joy, excitement, and triumph. It felt like pop culture had really embraced the thing I loved the most, and it also felt like the first time I opened the pages of that canary yellow softcover, 19 years previous.

Thank you, Stan. You’ve made an indelible mark on my life.

Stan Lee’s THE FANTASTIC FOUR

by Aaron Berkowitz

On November 8, 1961, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the Fantastic Four to the world. One member of this highly influential super team/dysfunctional family is none other than Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew: Benjamin J Grimm, The Thing. Not only is Ben one of the most consistently well-written characters in comics, he’s also my favorite comic book character. This is thanks to the aforementioned writing of the character. And Mr. Grimm’s greatest writer? Stan Lee.

Stan Lee: The Thing stands in a hallway.
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Lee, along with Kirby, created one of the most memorable characters of an already insanely memorable Silver Age of comics with The Thing. He became the heart and soul of the Fantastic Four, despite his figuratively (and literally) rough exterior. He complains, he moans, he snaps at Johnny Storm after one of his many pranks. But deep down Ben has the biggest heart out of any other member of the Four, and possibly of any character in the Marvel Universe.

Overcoming Adversity

That’s why I love his character so much. He represents the ultimate example of overcoming horrible adversity. Much like his creators, Ben grew up in an impoverished household, the child of Jewish immigrants. He fell in with a bad crowd and ran the Yancy Street Gang. Despite that, he went to a good college on a football scholarship and, eventually, became a well-decorated Air Force pilot.

Even after he became a giant, horrific orange rock monster, he still retained his humanity despite his horrible grief. To have such a positive role model is a blessing for young Jewish kids like I was. It’s doubly true now, in our, to put it lightly, trying political times. Thank you, Stan, for creating this incredibly inspiring, and always entertaining, character. Excelsior!

Stan Lee’s THE X-MEN

by Peyton Hinckle

In September of 1963, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men. Lee wanted to make a team of superheroes who were born with their powers instead of receiving them later in life through inexplicable means. He called it taking the cowardly way out since he didn’t have to come up with some life-altering scenario for this new band of crimefighters. But, in reality, I think he knew exactly what he was doing. He was trying to create comic book characters that could join the ranks of their readers. More so than any of Stan Lee’s other characters, the X-Men were relatable.

The first X-Men comic I picked up was an issue of the 1980’s X-FACTOR, which Stan Lee didn’t write. It would take me a few more years to be willing to try the earlier X-Men comics, which, for my younger self, were “uncool.” The dated lingo and cheesy uniforms seemed like the opposite of what superheroes were supposed to be. My “Essential X-Men” omnibuses collected dust until my writing job at ComicsVerse pushed me to revisit them.

Timely and Timeless

I won’t deny that I still found the language slightly problematic (borderline misogynistic). The early versions of the X-Men were far from perfect, but even in their fledgling form, these characters breathed hope. In creating the X-Men, Stan Lee made a group of characters who could speak to audiences in 1960 as well as 2018. “Mutants as a metaphor” works in every decade, for every wrongly marginalized population. Some fans think Stan’s original dream for the X-Men is dated, but I honestly couldn’t disagree more. Although the characters have grown and changed drastically, they still hold to the timeless notion that the quieted will not stay quiet.

X-MEN BLUE #32
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The X-Men have proven to be more personally influential than I ever thought imaginable. Jean Grey, from Lee and Kirby’s first issue of X-MEN, is my favorite comic book character and constantly inspires me. The X-Men are what keep me enthralled with the world of comics. Knowing that Stan Lee is gone is hard to process, but it also offers us an opportunity to appreciate all the characters and stories that he made possible. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the X-Men, which means I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Stan Lee.

Stan Lee’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

by Matt Attanasio

If there’s one lesson that stands out above all the others Stan Lee taught me, it’s that “with great power there must also come great responsibility.” I didn’t grow up reading Spider-Man comics, but I was always a fan of the cartoons and movies. I knew how important Peter Parker’s motto was to his character. But when I finally read AMAZING FANTASY #15 and then continued reading Spidey books beyond that, I grew to understand the powerful truth behind those words.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is more than just a book about goofy, spider-themed superheroics. It’s about more than Peter Parker’s god-awful luck. What makes Spider-Man the amazing hero he is is the truth that’s been at the core of the character since Stan Lee created him.

The Greatest Lesson

I wouldn’t say I try to live my life like Peter Parker (how the hell could I, I’m not freaking Spider-Man). However, I certainly try to live by his ideals. “With great power there must also come great responsibility.” That doesn’t mean that if you’ve got super powers, you should go be a cool superhero (though that might be part of it). It really means that if you have the ability to do something good, to help someone out, to make a difference in the world for the better, then you should.

stan lee
Image courtesy of Google

Frankly, the way Uncle Ben put it in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2014) was spot on.

I have Stan Lee to eternally thank for teaching me this invaluable lesson, and for creating my favorite superhero. The words he so deftly wrote and the sensational character he created all those years ago stand prominently at the forefront of my mind, now more than ever.

Thanks, Stan. Excelsior.

So, Stan, we salute you. We thank you for your creations, and for leaving your imprint on the comics world. It won’t be the same without you.

One Comment

  1. Sandra Suarez

    Sandra Suarez

    November 13, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    For college, to get my B.A. in Media and Communication, I needed to write a (at least 100 pages-long) thesis (a common procedure in Mexico), so I wrote mine on five different approaches to comic books. It took me 4 years to have it authorized because they kept telling me it was a childish topic. Comic books have had such a big influence on my life, not just as a hobby. BTW, my favorite character is Jean Grey, with and without the Phoenix Force.

    Reply

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