I have thought about writing this epitaph a hundred times. Stan Lee lived to be ninety-five years old, and I am still working on finding words to express the impact this man had on my life. For a period of time, I was signing my name with the parenthetical (the Amazing Spider Man). I read more comic books than your average nerd, and though I had dalliances with other publishers, I was a Marvel guy. This was the standard and the brand that I could trust. It was part of the road map of my life.
It should be noted that the first time I proposed to my wife, I did so as an homage to Peter Parker and his paramour Mary Jane Watson. As I mentioned, this was the first of many attempts, but it should be noted that a copy of that comic still stands on an altar next to our wedding photo. It is the way the legend has proved to be stronger than the more twisted path of reality.
If you don't know Stan Lee, you might have been asleep for the past fifty years, so I will tell you that he is the man responsible for heroes. Heroes like the aforementioned Spider Man, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Incredible Hulk, and Howard the Duck.
Yes. I went with my older brother to see Howard the Duck when George Lucas turned it into a movie. We paid full price. And we liked it. I watched the CBS TV version of Spider Man. Okay, I wasn't in love with it, but I watched. When Sam Raimi finally got his hands on the Webslinger, I was in heaven, even if that third outing went a little awry. But I was back in line when Andrew Garfield pulled on those red and blue tights. Twice. All this time, Stan was gearing up for a Marvel Cinematic Universe that brought us Iron Man, and resurrected Captain America, breathed new life int Black Widow and made Hawkeye cool.
With each new movie, I found myself drawn back to those comics. The ones I had read for so many years, and eventually introduced to my son. He and I sat in the audience of together and waited for the cameo from the man who brought us all these amazing stories. As many times as I have watched the Avengers on screen, I return to that frame where the Avengers discover Steve Rogers, frozen in time. This was the moment of my awakening, and ever since then, I have made mine Marvel.
Stan Lee stomped on the Terra and galaxies beyond our imaginations. Thankfully, he shared those worlds with us, and I that those ninety-five years were never enough, but I am eternally grateful for the gifts he shared. He will be missed. Aloha, Stan. And Excelsior!