The original superhero
If you somehow haven’t heard, Stan Lee passed away this week. But while his human form may be gone, his legacy will live on forever. And if you somehow don’t know who he is, continue reading to find out why and how Stan Lee has touched so many lives.
The very beginning
Way back in 1939, Stan Lieber became an assistant at the new Timely Comics division of pulp magazine. By 1960, Timely evolved into Marvel Comics. His duties were pretty mundane at first. He would make sure the inkwells were full, proofread, erase pencil marks, and fetch lunch for the artists. His comic-book debut was the text filler “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” in 1941. He was so embarrassed that he used the pen name Stan Lee. He graduated from writing filler to actual comics with a backup feature, “‘Headline’ Hunter, Foreign Correspondent”, two issues later.
Fast forward a few years in the late 1950s, and DC comics revived the superhero archetype and experienced significant success with Flash and the Justice League of America. Tasked with the request to create a superhero team and with nothing to lose, Lee created a team of superheroes with flaws. This was very different from the typical idealistically perfect people with no real, lasting problems that were in the comics meant for preteens. Lee introduced complex, naturalistic characters who could have bad tempers, fits of melancholy, and vanity; they bickered amongst themselves, worried about paying their bills and impressing girlfriends, got bored or were even sometimes physically ill.
Lee started with the Fantastic Four and developed all the well-known superheroes of Marvel Universe. The popularity of the heroes wasn’t expected, and it took a snowball effect. Lee continued to write monthly comics up until 1972, then assumed the role of publisher. Over time, Lee became a figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics. As you know, he would make appearances in all his films and would meet his fans at comic cons including the comic con he created.
While Stan Lee has physically departed, his writings and superheroes he created will live on. They will continue to show not only kids but also us adults that even superheroes have human problems.
How has Stan Lee and the Marvel Universe affected your life?