I think I was 5 years old when I first saw Stan Lee on TV. I was watching an introduction to the 90’s X-Men cartoon. My 5 year old brain just wanted my cartoon to start. I didn’t fast forward though. I listened to Stan Lee speak with such confidence and excitement about his characters. It was like listening to your grandpa if he wasn’t boring, and cared about things you liked.
I’m a legitimate comic book collector. Both DC and Marvel. Spider-man is probably the most influential figure in comics to me. This is simply me paying respects and reminiscing.
I talked my mom into getting me an Incredible Hulk toy from Toys R’ Us. It came with a Comic Book. I loved monsters. Still do actually. I was watching the animated Spider-Man marathon one Saturday morning. My mom asks. “Are you getting started on those chores?” I asked her. “Can I do them after this?” She shrugged. “I suppose.” four episodes later. “Chores. Now.” I pouted. “Awww, but you said after this.” My mom rolls her eye’s. “Well how much longer is this thing? It’s been like an hour.” Of course from the TV she hears the voice announcer. “Your watching the Spidey marathon!” I knew my charade was over when she put her hand on her hip and glared. I giggled, proud of my cunning trick. It wasn’t a bank heist but it was still satisfying to get away with. I ran to do my chores to avoid a lecture. “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Hadn’t quite hit me until my teens. I just thought Spider-Man was funny and cool.
After that Marathon the next time I got my hands on some money was from pulling weeds in the back yard. I went to the Toys R’ Us where I got that Hulk toy. There it was. Spider-man with changeable posing hands. A wall for him to stick on to, which toppled over, along with a comic. This comic book wasn’t just any comic mind you. It showed me how vast the comic book universe is. There was cross over superhero’s. Villains I knew nothing about. How could this be? Surely after playing all the video games, watching every episode of the animated show I’ve unwrapped every layer of this characters world, right? Nope. Just a drop in a bucket.
I’ve got hundreds of dollars worth of comic books since then. From independent companies like Image and Dynamite. I’ve got an entire book shelf dedicated to Marvel and DC. I don’t discriminate which is better. In all honesty I go by artists and writers not the companies.
Stan Lee always talked about how comics we’re looked at as picture books for kids and the illiterate. I grew up in a time when nerds were still getting pushed into lockers. I hadn’t caught that wave of, “it’s cool to be a nerd.” I’m happy for this generation while maintaining a little bitterness that these kids have such a great medium, and that it’s excepted.
Stan Lee took comic books and gave them depth. He wanted to make a little character named Peter Parker who had girl problems and struggled with the day to day stuff. Giving him dimension. His publishers criticized him saying, “Do you even know what a hero is?” Back in the day they were all stoic like Superman.
He also added diversity to his characters with the X-Men. So minorities could picture them selves as Superhero’s too. As well with the Black Panther series. These weren’t token characters they were the classics that you remember in your Saturday morning cartoon. You hear that theme song everytime you hear the word X-Men Dah-nah-nah, nah-nah… yeah that one.
Dealing with the many social issues he felt were wrong. Martin Luther King and Malcom X became professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. Professor X believing man kind and mutants should unite and live amongst each other. Magneto believing that mutants were the next stage in evolution and were superior to humans without mutant gene.
Going back to the uncle Been quote. I can honestly say that line really keeped me out of trouble when I was younger and full of hormones and teenage angst. I remember reading the Ultimate Spider-Man when I was younger where Peter Parker used his powers selfishly which came back around having dire consequences.
My mom was a single mother that worked two to three jobs. So she wasn’t around to scold me so I got away with a lot. The uncle Ben scene that’s been done several different ways never left my mind though. It was honestly my golden rule.
I always tried to think two steps ahead before reacting with anger. If I say or do something to this person what will the consequences be? If I hit this kid or destroy him with a comeback will he try to jump me later? Maybe I end up actually hurting him in the fight. Why is this person trying to get under my skin? Things like this kept me out of a lot of trouble.
You never picture someone you care about dying. I’m not one for idolizing celebrities but Stan Lee’s legacy has impacted a large portion of my life. Not through entertainment alone but his beliefs, his imagination, his always optimistic attitude. I don’t think I’ve ever seen footage of that man not enjoying life. He always had a smile on his face embracing fans. We’ll never have someone like him again. You will truly be missed Stan Lee. You’ll live forever through a legacy of imagination and positivity. Rest in peace.