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11-12-2018 04:36 PM - edited 11-12-2018 04:45 PM
Were it not for Stan Lee, superheroes would be fewer in number, financially poorer, but better-adjusted people. The torch-bearing writer, editor, and longtime Marvel Comics head honcho has died, Marvel confirmed on Monday. He was 95.
Lee’s innovations pushed comic books from the edge of obscurity to the cultural forefront as a legitimate American art form. And he helped usher in an era when superhero movies, including such global blockbusters as Marvel Studios’ Iron Man and Avengers franchises, rank as Hollywood’s most reliably bankable entertainment properties.
The son of working-class Jewish immigrants from Romania, Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York in 1922. He adopted his famous pseudonym while employed as a proofreader and text filler at Timely Comics, the pulp publisher that later became Marvel. “I felt someday I’d be writing the Great American Novel and I didn’t want to use my real name on these silly little comics,” said Lee, who later legally adopted his pen name.
In the early ’60s, when superheroes battled villainy as blandly indestructible paragons of virtue, the comics upstart grew disenchanted with such strait-laced characters as Superman, Batman, and the Flash, who were then flourishing at rival DC Comics. As a result, Lee strayed from accepted tropes to create an interlocking network of heroes with a kind of flawed humanity — a breakthrough dubbed the “Marvel revolution” that would ripple across popular culture for decades.
Unlike so many other caped crusaders of the time, Lee’s heroes tended to be misfits and wisecrackers, teenagers or regular Joes given to fits of pique, self-pity, rage, insecurity, and churlishness. Spider-Man’s Peter Parker, for example, was an orphaned nerd who — when not saving New York City from impending disaster — wrestled with unrequited love, schoolyard bullying, and negative cash flow. The X-Men, meanwhile, captured the zeitgeist as bona fide members of the counterculture. They were superpowered mutants intent on doing good but forced to maintain an uneasy peace with human beings who reviled the “uncanny” crime-fighters as a dangerous subspecies.
Another classic Lee antihero, Fantastic Four strongman the Thing, vanquished foes with superhuman strength and an impenetrable, rock-like hide but became beloved for the sum of his quirks: the character’s lingering unease with his monstrous condition and a gravelly New York brio Lee swiped from Jimmy Durante.
At the height of the civil rights movement, Lee helped introduce a wave of characters including Luke Cage (a.k.a. Power Man), Falcon, and Black Panther, thereby smashing an unofficial color barrier for major superheroes held in place since the dawn of comics. “Not to have diversity of different races and nationalities is ridiculous,” Lee told EW in June 2015. “Because the world is diverse. The more we can include everybody, the better it is.”
11-12-2018 04:46 PM
@birdmama my son just sent a text about Stan Lee's passing...as a Graphic Designer he was a fan of his work. I remember his family and the recent issues over his ability to make decisions about his estate that were in the news. I hope his family does the right thing concerning him and not cause his legacy to be tarnished by fighting over his estate.
11-12-2018 04:57 PM
11-12-2018 04:59 PM
I just read a tweet from a lady who said her 10 year old son was at the end of an autograph line, and found he was short of money. Stan Lee saw him , signed his comic and talked to him for 20 min. , now that's a gentleman.
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