This is a sad and somber day. Our world has a little less wonder in it, as one of the greatest imaginations of the 20th Century has passed out of it. Stan Lee, who was, along with artist Jack Kirby, half of the creative genius behind pretty much the entire Marvel Universe, died today. In an incredibly short and unbelievably productive period of time, these two idols of imagination breathed life into a universe, creating dozens and dozens of characters and concepts that have thrilled, entertained, and inspired generations of people since. They gave us characters like Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, Iron-Man, the X-Men, and countless others.
Stan and Jack helped shape America’s, and indeed, the world’s, conceptions of heroism, the collective imagination of the West, and gave us modern incarnations of archetypal ideas that, I am certain, have made our world at least a little better. In addition to the wondrous worlds he created, through his work as a writer and editor of Marvel Comics, he helped bring comics into conversation with their culture, wrestling, in a simple yet earnest and effective way, with such topics as racism, sexism, and environmentalism. He helped train a generation of kids to recognize that the content of a man’s (or woman’s) character was more important than the color of their skin (or their possession of mutant powers, for that matter).
His books did the work of literature, however silly and simplistic they were at times, as they both entertained and edified. And, of course, they have now inspired an entire cinematic universe, movies that are themselves continuing the work he began and touching millions of lives in the bargain.
That’s pretty impressive for a guy who built an empire out of writing funny books.
Goodbye Mr. Lee. You shall be dearly missed. We shall endeavor to carry on in your stead. Excelsior!
On a personal note, Stan Lee was one of my heroes, and I am deeply saddened by his death. I had always dreamed of meeting him and thanking him for giving the world so much joy, and now I shall not have the chance in this life.