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RIP: Stan Lee – Comic Book Legend and Marvel Superhero

Stan Lee, 95, passed away November 12, 2018.

Stan Lee, 95, passed away November 12, 2018 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after being taken there due to a medical emergency. Stan Lee is best remembered as a comic book writer, editor, and publisher, taking Marvel Comics from obscurity to the major powerhouse it is today. He co-created beloved characters, such as, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men, Ant-Man, Iron Man, and Thor. For many, he has been the embodiment of Marvel Comics.

Lee was born Stanley Lieber in New York City in 1922. Lee got his first step into comics with Timely Comics, which would eventually become Marvel Comics, as errand boy, filling ink wells, getting lunches, and erasing penciling lines on the comics. He got his first chance to write working on a filler comic of Captain America, “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” for Captain America Comics #3 for the first time using the name Stan Lee. He quickly graduated from fillers to comics and then to creating his first super-hero, the Destroyer. When Jack Kirby and Joe Simon left Timely, he took over as interim editor, which then lead to his place as editor-in-chief until 1972, when he took over as publisher.

In 1942, Lee enlisted in the United States Army, joining the Army Signal Corps where he repaired telephone poles and communication equipment until he transferred to the Training Film Division where he worked on writing manuals, training films, slogans, and occasionally cartooning. He held the military classification of “playwright” one of only nine men in the U. S. Army given that designation.


Returning from his service, he took back control of what was now known as Atlas Comics. Dissatisfied with the way comic books were going, he was considering leaving the field. On advice from his wife, who suggested he write what he wanted since he was planning on leaving anyways, he took a new slant on the super-hero archetype and made them a little more human. Flawed and complex, he took them from the realm of the gods and brought them down to earth as mortal men with amazing gifts and amazing flaws and the same worries and foibles as the rest of us; and with that, he created to wonderful characters that made Marvel what it was. His creations working with a group of amazing artists such as Jack Kirby brought us the Fantastic Four and their complex interpersonal relations and relationships, the foul tempered Hulk and his mild mannered alter-ego Banner, the alien Norse god Thor, the egotistical Iron Man, and the cavalcade of complexities that were the X-Men. He and Bill Everett created the unlikely hero of Hell’s Kitchen with all the problems of the inner city, Daredevil. With Steve Ditko, he created another egotist, but one far more unique and complex, Doctor Strange, and with Ditko, his most popular and endearing superhero: Spiderman. His work with John Romita Sr. changed not just the type of stories, but the colors of the faces in the stories with the introduction of the Inhumans and Black Panther.  So many of these characters have inspired so many that we will never know.

Lee didn’t stop with just the comic book page, but so many of his works have come to the screen, starting in the Saturday morning cartoons to live action versions of Spiderman and The Hulk to films with Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D. and now to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that we all know and love.

We all have our stories of the first time we realized who the man behind the images was, and the first of those images that grabbed our imagination. As a little girl, I watched in awe as the mild mannered Bill Bixby turned into the huge green Lue Ferrigno and got lost in the pages of the first couple issues of New Mutants (before my mom found them and threw them out!). Again in my late teens, I found him again in the pages of X-Men and got lost month after month in X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, braving the male dominated comic book stores to get my comic fix. My life, for one, would be a little less if it were not for his vision.

Lee, though larger-than-life, touched people in individual ways, as you can read in Gail Simone’s thread starting here:

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This is how I’ll always see you, @therealstanlee: as our benevolent leader and king, smiling down from your eternal throne on the generations of imaginations you fed and inspired. You were the first creator whose voice I knew before I’d ever actually heard it. You dreamed up some of my favorite modern myths and created characters that instilled in me a moral barometer, teaching me right from wrong and showing me it’s always better to be a hero instead of a villain. Your characters represented us: yes, they had extraordinary, unbelievable abilities, but they were also reflections of a world we knew, where a Spider-Man is really just a boy who wants to help. You showed me how to interact with the audience whenever you stepped onto Stan’s Soapbox to reach out to the readers. You showed me how to advocate for my field beyond the actual art itself whenever you tub thumped for comic books outside of the medium. It was never enough for you to simply make a comic because you were a true salesman at heart. So you not only sold comics, you sold me *on* comics – so much so that I built a life and career around your dreams and ideals. When you did Mallrats with us, you not only made a lifelong fan’s dream come true, you also lent me comic book credibility that I still get to spend today. And whether it was for @comicbookmenamc or @yogahosers, whenever I asked to borrow your heat again, you were always there for me with a smile. Your love story with Joanie and your long, happy marriage always shined as an example of what I wanted for my personal life. I long admired (and emulated) your kindness and patience and sense of humor when dealing with your public. Outside of my parents, you were the one adult who gave me the most useful life skills I still use today. Thank you, Stan, for making me not only the boy I was but also the man I am today. You had great power and you always used it responsibly, fostering billions of dreamers who all know your name – a name written in the stars for all time. You were not just the literary titan of comic books, you were our modern day Mark Twain. I will miss you all my days, my friend and hero. Excelsior forevermore. #KevinSmith #StanLee

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Our hearts go out to his family and friends. Excelsior, Mr. Lee.


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