Superhero Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk, The X-Men, Fantastic Four and Iron Man — to name a few Marvel masterpieces — passed away this week at 95. Considered a pop culture icon and comic book visionary — Lee lived to see many of his from the page and larger-than-life almost Franken-creations become one of the biggest entertainment industries ever on the big screen and almost everywhere else — the Marvel Universe. Lee also helped create a planet, where young and old could flex their reading muscles — making literacy cool. The geeks have most definitely inherited the Earth, thanks to Lee’s legacy.
Historically speaking, a comic book reader was a “nerd” or a “geek.” But, nonetheless, male kids of all ages were reading and expanding their horizons through the power of the printed word — of course, glorious illustrations were part and parcel. Today, the comic book world has devoured and conquered the globe. All sexual identities can relate to the stories of the underdog raising to the occasion to save the day. Comic book adaptations have become big business in the entertainment complex of life — it is hoped, a bit of that overflow seeps into the literary world of comic book reading too.
Archrivals Marvel and DC Comics have saturated the market with never-ending superheroes, villains, anti-heroes and the like. DC’s Batman and Superman, are of course, undeniably pop culture mainstays. Other comic companies and creators have also stepped up to the plate to infiltrate the industry with memorable stories and characters to help level out the playing field, as well. There’s The Crow, Hellboy, Spawn and a plethora of additions to the literary and pop culture comic-scape. But, Lee was the “King of Comics.” Not only did Lee imagine so many unforgettable titans of the biz — he also appeared in most (if not all) the big screen versions of the franchises with cameos (which fans waited for in each celluloid instalment).
This week, the world lost one of the greats. Decades of bringing beloved and relatable characters to life. Characters with a heart, passion, desire, and a struggle to find a place in the fictional world in which they co-exist. Some human with special abilities and/or some from not-of-this-world — but all with one thing in common — to help others, no matter of race, ethnicity, culture, religion, etc. That is why the comic book and its many incarnations will continue to prosper in today’s often biased and judgemental universe, in which we live.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” And, “Excelsior” Mr. Lee.