When I first heard the news that Stan Lee had passed away, part of me was not surprised. I mean, the man had been in semi-poor health for the last few months, and when you get to 95 years of age, you have lived a full and long life. Even though I was not surprised, I was deeply saddened by the news.
Stan Lee as an icon and a founder of the empire that would be called Marvel Comics, his characters and stories shaped my very impressionable mind. The second comic I ever owned in my life was Avengers #177. It was the conclusion of the Korvac saga and I was enthralled with it from the beginning (the first book I owned was a Challengers of the Unknown book, possibly issue 5 in 1976).
But this issue and the many that I purchased after that shaped my view on comics and characters in general. My heroes became Wonder Man, Spider Man, Captain America and The Hulk. It was the idea that his heroes were flawed and never perfect. I mean, Wonder Man had died and was constantly afraid of pushing himself in combat for fear of dying again. Captain America was a soldier out of time and out of a war. Spider Man was in a never ending battle with the poverty line. They were characters I could relate to as a youngster and even as I grew up.
Behind all these characters was Stan Lee. He was a person I could instantly recognize with his large glasses, slicked back salt and pepper hair and big smile. I enjoyed hearing his voice work on the Marvel cartoons of the 1980’s or seeing his cameos later on in feature films. I still get a chuckle every time I watch Mallrats, or him dropping a “Tony Stank” at the end of Captain America: Civil War. He always looked like someone having fun and I liked playing the equivalent of “Where’s Waldo” with the Stan Lee cameos.
My love of Marvel Comics in movies, comics and even the occasional video game will continue on after Stan Lee’s passing, but there will be a part of me sad that his iconic figure will no longer be there in the background.