“There is only one who is all powerful, and his greatest weapon is love.”
– Stan Lee, Silver Surfer
True believers, it is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Stan Lee, Marvel’s legendary writer and publisher. The comic book mogul and co-creator of such characters as Spider-Man, X-Men, The Mighty Thor, Daredevil, Iron Man, Black Panther, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man and many more, died on Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
This one hurts. In fact, it was just last night, while my wife and I were re-watching ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, when we began commenting on Lee’s remarkable legacy. Lee began his journey into the world of comics and beyond in 1939, where he worked alongside some of Marvel’s most talented artists – such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko – to create characters who would go on to stand the test of time and then some.
As a master creator, Lee’s characters were known to defy the laws of tradition by adding nuance to their varying personalities, therefore making them more relatable to readers. Thanks in-part to Lee, introverts saw themselves in Peter Parker, while those prone to emotional distress loved to adventure with The Incredible Hulk. Lee even gave us Marvel’s first family, The Fantastic Four – my personal favorite of the bunch. Through the Fab Four, Lee and his artist friends explored the cosmos, manipulating time and reality itself, all in the name of making new discoveries for the betterment of humankind. The list goes on and on, with each and every character contributing in ways that would change the comic book landscape forever.
In recent times, it felt as if Lee’s life was under constant assault by the planet-eater, Galactus, with lawsuits looming around every corner. In July of 2017, Lee’s beloved wife, Joan, passed away at the age of 69, leaving a gaping hole in the Marvel mastermind’s heart. Shortly after Joan’s passing, Lee sued a group of executives at POW! Entertainment for fraud, though the suit was promptly dropped a few weeks later. After that, Lee sued his ex-business manager, and even saw fit to file a restraining order against the man who’d been managing his estate worth upward of $70 million. In June of 2018, the Los Angeles Police Department released a report stating that they were investigating a claim of elder abuse on Lee’s behalf, adding to an already daunting list of troubles for Marvel’s legendary spokesman.
“Never speak harshly of your enemy — when you can kick ‘im in the shins instead!”
– Stan Lee
In 1939, Lee secured a position as a gofer while working at Timely Comics (later to be re-branded Marvel). After two years of grunt work, Lee was hired to write for Kriby and Joe Simonson’s Captain America #3. With stars and stripes in his eyes, Lee crafted the two-page story titled “The Traitor’s Revenge!” By the time he’d turned 19 in 1942, Lee was made an interim editor. However, times were tough, and Lee left the company after enlisting in Army, where he served under the Signal Corps, writing manuals and training films for new recruits. After the war had wrapped, Lee returned to comics as an editor, a position that gave him the power to make dreams come true for decades.
In the 1970s, Lee became known as a creator who knocked on the walls of censorship in comics, as he often leaned into taboo subject matter for what was considered “normal” in the medium. In my estimation, Stan recognized the power his characters wielded, and through them, brought what he felt were important messages to the readers regarding themes of tolerance, fear, and most importantly, compassion. Not all creators were doing this at the time. In fact, many were content to let super powers do the heavy lifting, while damsels dangled in distress, waiting to be saved. Not Stan. His characters were meant for something greater, and in time several of them have passed life lessons onto us that we won’t soon forget.
In 1972, Lee retired as a Marvel editor and instead became a publisher for the flagship company. With his focus now squarely-aimed at promoting the label’s popular books and characters, Lee moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to establish an animation company. It was then that Lee began planting seeds among the Hollywood elite, alerting them to the cinematic boom of comic book entertainment that was to come.
Throughout the years, Lee has appeared in numerous Marvel films, as a living Easter Egg, while having a ball in a world of his own making. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a Marvel film without him. Moreover, I’ll miss his iconic voice, as it was always gentle and tended to deliver words of wisdom that I could relate to. In truth, I’m still digesting this loss, and am finding it difficult to articulate my emotions. If I don’t get to anything else, I’ll say this: Thank you, Stan Lee. Thank you for helping to give the world such memorable characters and stories. Thank you for being a friendly and familiar face to rely on in times of darkness. Thank you for giving power to the overlooked, the mighty, and the monstrous. You are about as legendary as they come, so Excelsior, my good man. Rest easy.
Lee is survived by his daughter, J.C., and younger brother Larry Lieber, a writer and artist for Marvel. His other daughter, Jan, sadly died in infancy. Meanwhile, Lee’s late wife, Joan, will surely be waiting to welcome him to the great hereafter. We here at JoBlo wish Lee safe travels to the big multiverse in the sky. Our hearts and thoughts go out to those close to him, as well as everyone who’s ever felt the awesome power of Lee’s talents.
Once again, Excelsior!