Stan Lee: A True Superhero
By Woo Long Talks
Stan “the man” Lee is one of those names that goes hand in hand with the pop culture of comic books all over the world. He lived for 95 years, which is, as they say, a good inning.
He had a voice that spoke to anybody who would listen; race, creed or gender made no difference. He used his medium to tell stories; to explain and educate the masses without ramming ideologies down your throat. He used the dichotomy between Professor Xavier of the X men and Magneto of the brotherhood of mutants to tell his version of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. He used Spiderman to teach us what it feels like to be stuck in between being a boy and a man. With Black Panther, he taught people of colour that no matter what people have told you, you come from something great.
I never felt that Stan Lee’s storytelling ability got the props it deserved, due to the medium through which he told his stories (apparently comics are just for kids). He gave us myths and legends that helped fuel the imaginations of people all over the world. He told stories of gods who controlled the weather, monsters who were simply misunderstood outcasts of society, super soldiers who fought against incredible odds to protect the innocent and a web-slinging wallcrawler who fought against villains made of water or sand but yet still could not afford to pay his rent (adulting at its finest). For anybody who has read his work, if you’re a comic book reader then, one way or another, your favourite author was probably influenced by this man. His style of writing and issues he was willing to tackle were way ahead of his time.
I have heard people asking what legacy Stan Lee will be leaving in his wake. This got me thinking, and the conclusion I came to was that his legacy was cemented in comic book history the moment he co-created the Marvel universe. Writers have been emulating his style since day one, from Brian Michael Bendis who recreated a portion of the Marvel universe in the early 2000s with Ultimate Spider-Man which was, in essence, a retelling of the Stan Lee original story from the 60s. In 2018 DC comics released a comic called The Terrifics, which was basically a riff on the dysfunctional family dynamic that makes the fantastic four so fun to read.
For the many people that may know who Stan Lee is but are not sure if they have read his actual work, I recommend the first issues of Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Incredible Hulk, or Avengers as good places to start. If you wish to see the inspiration for helping craft the expanding of the Marvel universe in relation to the comic landscape then I would suggest Fantastic Four issues 48, 49, 50. What they manage to do in 3 issues is now spread over 6 months, with countless tie-ins that would need to be read in order to understand the whole story. Apart from juggling three different storylines, we are also introduced to the planet-eating God, Galactic and his herald Silver Surfer. Believe me when I say you will not be disappointed by this storyline.
A true visionary, Stan Lee, you will be missed but by Odin’s beard, your work will live on. R.I.P. & Excelsior. And might I say, and I am sure most of you would agree, Stan Lee was a true superhero.