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Stan Lee 1922 – 2018

As news of Stan Lee’s passing reverberates around the world, Geek Genie pays tribute to “The Man”.

lthough most of us knew this day was coming, it was still hard to take. At 95 years of age, Stanley Martin Lieber, had passed. He had lived his best life. In recent months, the signs were there that Stan may not be of this mortal plane for much longer. After his beloved wife Joan passed away in 2017 also at the age of 95, his health slowly deteriorated.

Stan Lee’s place in comic book and indeed pop-culture history is already assured. He was instrumental in turning a fledgling Marvel Comics into a powerhouse which shunted to one side the old established order represented by DC Comics. Lee’s penchant for hyperbole saw him add the strapline “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” to the Fantastic Four comic…after only two issues! But it was precisely this boundless enthusiasm and energy which saw Marvel tap into the 1960’s hip new generation in a way that DC struggled to.

His creative collaborations with industry legends such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Don Heck to name but a few saw the birth of a new universe that has now come to dominate the big screen. Spider-Man was a loner and nerd who was bullied at school. The X-Men were a band of outcasts shunned by society and victims of discrimination and intolerance. Generations of disenfranchised groups found an immediate home in the pages of these unconventional heroes.

Lee was not without controversy. His role in the creative process of many of Marvel’s characters has sometimes been challenged. The age of social media has possibly amplified some of the vitriol hurled toward Lee. But even his most ardent critics would have to accept that Marvel Comics and indeed its later cinematic off-shoot would not have had the success it enjoys to this day without Stan Lee.

After Marvel’s stable of titles increased, Lee stepped aside as writer and editor to become Publisher of Marvel Comics in 1972 and in 1980 moved to Los Angeles in an effort to launch Marvel into Holywood. But box office success would have to wait. While DC were enjoying success with its Superman and Batman series of films, Marvel were releasing straight to video flops in the form of Captain America and Fantastic Four. 

All that would change in 2000 with the release of X-Men. The success of  X-Men heralded the Marvel Age of Movies. In 2008 the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born with the release of Iron Man. The studio followed one hit after another. A fan favourite feature of each movie is Stan Lee’s cameo appearances. With Avengers 4 already completed, Stan’s next cameo will be all the more special.

News of his passing prompted a deluge of tributes from friends, collaborators, fans and pretty much anyone and everyone.

For those of us who are comic book fans, most of us cannot remember a time without Stan Lee. His vision, passion, creativity and constant desire to move Marvel forward has given us a world rich with characters and stories that will remain forever. The Marvel Universe, indeed the comic book world, is poorer today with Lee’s passing. But you know he wouldn’t want it to end here. His legacy lives on in the millions of fans and creators inspired by his work and vision. Onward. Excelsior!

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