by Sean Meiers
Stan "The Man" Lee
When I hear of the passing of the famous or well-known it usually passes by me with a "Did you hear that so-and-so dies today?" There have been some notable exceptions, Stevie Ray Vaughn for one. But when I heard of Stan "The Man" Lee's passing on Monday, I was saddened by the news. I started collecting comics in the summer of 1980 and continued to do so for some twenty plus years. I started reading the Avengers from issue #200 and X-Men from #135 (two issues before the (first) death of Jean Grey). I was an avid reader of Spider-Man and Captain America. When I started comics were still only 35¢ and Peppermint Patties were a quarter. Comics were a big part of my life as I made weekly trips to the nearby 7-11 for my comics. (Yes, 7-11's used to sell comic books. Most had two of those standing, spinning racks full of comics.)
And Stan Lee was the publisher behind Marvel Comics, which accounted for most of the comics I read back then. While not reading stories written by him, his approach to superheroes and comics was still there. Heroes who struggled with real life issues, not just super-villains. Stories where you didn't know for sure how it was going to end; sometimes they worked out for the best, sometimes they didn't. Because of this, these heroes were relatable and were important to me; they helped me cope with life when I was young.
Being a veteran, I have been asked why I joined the military. Part of that answer is because of Captain America. He understood the principles on which America was founded and they were important to him. Captain America embraced those ideals and did everything he could to make sure this country and the people in it lived up to those ideals.
One of Stan's creations, the original Captain Marvel shown on our new clear 5 x 5 shelf (A083)
It was Stan who would develop ongoing story lines in the comics. Sure, most of the comics were stand alone issues while fighting the villain of the month, but things in their personal lives crossed issues. It was this approach that made readers feel connected to the heroes. And Stan continued that with his Bullpen Bulletins where he talked to the readers about what was happening at Marvel; some of it was propaganda of course, promoting some storyline or crossover or event, but he also would tell us what was happening in the lives of the creators who worked on the stories we read. And this made us, the readers, feel even more connected to what was going on. people in it lived up to those ideals.
Now there were many other people involved in Marvel Comics by the time I started reading them. Many different writers, pencilers, inkers, and editors who shaped the various characters I read. But they all owed something to Stan Lee. It was he that really brought the concept of a shared universe to comics, the idea that all of the heroes lived in the same world; heroes even fought some of the same villains. Both the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man had to deal with Dr. Doom.
Stan's greatest creation, Spider-Man, displayed in our A016 bobblehead case
And then there were the cameos he made in all of the Marvel movies. It was something we-the fans-all looked forward to: where would Stan show up in the movie? What role would he be playing? And it was always good for a smile, a smile that would brighten a moment in the movie for us viewers.
And that was Stan in nutshell, really. He worked to brighten our day, because even if things took a downturn in the life of a hero, it would eventually be okay, maybe not perfect, but better.
Adam Warlock displayed in our A044 case with the new wall mount back in white. Could Stan Lee be residing in the Soul Gem?