Excelsior! It’s the way Stan Lee often signed off on his bulletins and memos, even on-air when he provided the voice-over intro on animated series. Undoubtedly the singular word could also be used to describe the man, himself, and how he lived. He had the greatest job in the world, and gave rise to the greatest era in the publication of the pulp magazine launching Spider-Man, the Avengers, Thor, Fantastic Four, and more! When one considers that legacy that Lee would leave behind, as the epic co-creator of Marvel Comics’ most cherished characters, December 28th should be celebrated as a national holiday!
Stan Lee would have been 98 this year on December 28. The young man who heralded from very humble beginnings in New York City laid the foundations for how we look at comic books as a viable art form, not a childish predicated pastime. For six decades, Lee set out to provide the voice for Marvel superheroes, which unlike many of their contemporaries in the business, were most regarded because of their humanity, which resonated for many off the page! Many readers were astounded by the incredible feats performed by the Amazing Spider-Man, but they related most to the teenager behind the mask: Peter Parker.
In his book Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel (published by Rowman & Littlefield) biographer Bob Batchelor dives deep into the legacy of the man that would become an icon, and how Stan Lee populated New York City with the most powerful characters swinging from the tops of the Empire State Building, to the gathering of legends in a mansion along 5th Avenue, and all meeting at the crossroads of the multiverse at the heart of Greenwich Village. Decades later, the mightiest of these adventurers would gather at the heart of the city to defend mankind from an alien invasion, giving the term “blockbuster” a whole new meaning.
“Superman launched comic book superheroes, but Spider-Man made them human,” explained Bob Batchelor, Stan Lee’s biographer. “This nerdy teenager from Queens was full of complexities and angst, just like the rest of us. But, he still abided by Stan Lee’s immortal line: With great power, there must also come — great responsibility.” No matter where on the planet Lee sent his Marvel characters too, they prevailed not only on their awesome abilities but mostly on their compassion, empathy, and ability to relate — inspiring us all to follow in their footsteps! Excelsior, indeed!
Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel | by Bob Batchelor | Rowman & Littlefield Publishers is available on hardback for $22.95, a paperback edition for $16.95, and as an eBook for $16.00.