RIP Stan Lee

by Blaise Tassone

116778_b188bf7898a2e23d87ed31370984a54ed8d3c735-197x300 RIP Stan Lee

It was with great sadness that I learned that American comic book writer, editor, publisher, film producer and actor Stanley Martin Lieber, better known to millions worldwide as Stan Lee, passed away today at the age of 95. It feels like the end of an era.

Lee’s influence on modern comics is impossible to underestimate. Without Stan Lee, none of the following heroes would exist as the characters we recognize and love today: The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Mighty Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury, Iron Man, Daredevil, Black Panther, not to mention the literally hundreds of minor and supporting characters strewn throughout the many, many comic book titles Lee either edited, wrote or co-wrote over a period of over 75 years.

It seemed like Lee literally lived and breathed comics. He will forever be remembered as the face of Marvel comics, which he effectively promoted from its inception.

Through the gimmicks of ‘Marvel Bullpen Bulletins’ and ‘Stan’s Soap Box’ to the presence he had on the books he edited by reading and answering letters from fans to the editor, all the way on down to his organization of the ‘Merry Marvel Marching Society’ fan club, a community for which he became the face and soul, no one did more to help Marvel move from a minor competitor to established comic companies into the most successful comic book publisher in the world.

Not everyone got along with Lee, but few can doubt the magnitude of his contributions to comic book and pop culture.

In this post, in honor of his enormous influence, I’ll list what I consider to be Stan Lee’s three most important comics in order from least to most significant:

The Avengers #1 (September 1963) – First appearance of the Avengers; Origin of The Avengers

By most important comics, I don’t mean best. Although many of Lee’s best stories can- I think- be found in the pages of one or more of the following titles. I start my list with The Avengers. This is not the best work Lee did, not by a long shot, but as a promo of the universe he helped create, The Avengers served as a spotlight for the best that Marvel had to offer. In its pages many of the Lee created or co-created heroes came together. As the phenomenal success of the movies showed, nothing captures the excitement and magic of the Marvel Universe like a well told Avengers story. The Avengers #1 stands as my third choice for most influential comic that Stan Lee wrote or helped launch. It’s without doubt a classic. Excelsior!

116010_f2b171a6d0040e27c259b75d8bcf0a57d374a3aa-199x300 RIP Stan Lee

Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) – First appearance of Spider-man

Easily one of the most recognizable super-heroes on the planet and at this point, in terms of comic book followers, the single most popular is Peter Parker aka the Amazing Spider-Man. Lee co-created Spider-man with Steve Ditko and this premiere issue is one of the most hotly sought after comic books of all time. If you have a copy, you are one of the elect in the collecting community. Horribly chewed up copies of this comic can still sell for many thousands of dollars. I can’t think of a bigger testimony to the worth of Lee’s output than the value of this 1963 comic. ‘Nuff Said.

115513_038f9e42711319e19c679239722c0b71ecc2f2eb-200x300 RIP Stan Lee

Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961) – First appearance of Fantastic Four; First comic published under Marvel name

The number one most important comic Lee produced with the help of artist extraordinaire Jack ‘the King’ Kirby, is hands down the Fantastic Four issue #1. This issue introduces us to the most famous Marvel super-hero family of all. With Kirby, Lee crafted the most influential story lines of the FF run and in the process introduced the Marvel Universe that millions of people still love today. We would not have Spidey or the Avengers if it were not for this comic. Although the apex of Lee’s scripting work was probably the 1966 ‘Galactus trilogy’, that also introduced the Silver Surfer, I still pick this as the comic I consider Stan Lee’s most important work since it started it all. RIP Stan, we’ll miss you.

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