Excelsior! The Loss of a Legend

Stan Lee, founder and face of Marvel Comics, passes away at 95.


Russell Spacy, Freelance Writer

Stan Lee, founding member and face of Marvel Comics, passed away Monday morning at the age of 95. Lee began his career in 1939 as a writer, editor and occasional artist, at the then-named Timely Comics. At the time, comic books were an industry dominated by DC Comics, which had the likes of Batman, Superman and their super-team, the Justice League.


In the 1960s, Lee was tasked to create heroes to compete with the Justice League. He decided to create heroes who were flawed, human and grounded in our reality. Lee, with the help of artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, began to create the characters we all know and love starting with the first comic book family, The Fantastic Four. Characters such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk and the X-Men soon followed.

Lee’s legacy was almost cemented upon creation. We can take a look at the X-Men, a team of characters who were created with emphasis on social commentary during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Professor X, the team’s wheelchair-bound leader, echoed Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of peaceful protest against bigotry and racial hate, while Magneto preached a more violent solution, somewhat like Malcolm X.


Spider-Man, Lee’s chief creation, is another iconic example. Stan Lee himself has said multiple times that he never expected Spider-Man to become as popular as he has. Spider-Man has become the quintessential hero for kids because Peter Parker’s story resonates on many levels. He acquired his powers in high school and had to learn everything that goes with high school, like dealing with bullies and talking to girls, while also balancing his life as a superhero.

I was first introduced to Marvel with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man film in 2002. I remember watching Peter Parker struggle to keep his normal life together while becoming a hero who drops everything to save his city. This created my insatiable desire to learn more about this character, so I dove into the world of comics, learning about the rich history of Spider-Man and the X-Men. These characters showed me that even when things feel like they are at their lowest or hardest there is still room to get back up.

Many times the rigors of life and its monotony can bring me down to a point of hopelessness, but when I look at someone like Spider-Man, whose life crumbles around him as he is forced to become the man of his household, get a job and fulfill his roles of responsibility, personally that inspires me, and is something I strive to emulate when I am knocked down by my anxiety, school or work.

Lee was an inspiration––a legend. Even after he retired, he still brought joy to fans through his public appearances and Marvel film cameos. His legacy can be felt through many generations and will continue living on through the characters he created.

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