It is with great sadness that the comic book community hear the news that Stan Lee has passed away at the age of 95.

To say his shadow will loom large is an understatement. I think only the likes of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare have created more legendary, long-lasting characters and that’s some feat for a man who had co-created the Marvel Universe as we know it from the floor up with an output that would make X-Men member, Quicksilver, blush.

He was the co-creator of Spider-Man, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men and so, so many other characters that not only did I grow up with, and fall in love with, but generations to come will also cherish as they grow up too.

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Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922 New York, growing up through The Great Depression and WWII and taking up his first job in comic book publication at the tender age of 17. Comics, it would seem, were always in his blood.

But, it wasn’t until Marvel that Stan hit it big. DC Comics had just published their Justice League of America and Lee and company wanted to match that success. And so, along with Jack “King” Kirby, Lee co-created The Fantastic Four. The rest, as they say, is history. Or, at least that’s Stan’s view of events.

Even if Kirby remembered it differently. But, one of his biggest creations, Spider-man, was almost not meant to be. Lee had hastily put together what he and, I dare say, co-creator Steve Ditko must have thought was a thruway strip to fill out a comic that was going under. Spidey first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 and soon migrated to his own comic book. Still going strong today.

But, the key to Marvel’s early success was their heroes. They were often flawed. Peter Parker was not only the class nerd but unlucky in love too. The Thing, a monster on the outside, but with a heart of gold. Even the early secret identity for an Earth bound Thor was Doctor Donald Blake, a man with a disability.

Finally readers had characters they knew! Marvel were also the first to have their characters cross-over and appear in each others different titles most months too. This was a universe that felt teal and shared. It helped that most lived in New York too. Something still exploited today.

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Of course, the are the TV show, the films and the endless merch that assures you these colourful characters will be remembered long after we’ve all left this mortal coil too. Shakespeare understood the power of art to immortalise you. Seems Stan will be immortalised through what he has left to others as well. Excelsior!

RIP Stan. You really were “The Man”.

Stan Lee 1922 – 2018.

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