Until We Meet Again, Stan Lee
Stan Lee has died at the age of 95.
It's sort of a shocking thing to write. Not that a man of that advanced age has passed but rather such a mythical figure has left us. I mean just who thinks of such a talented mind, such a powerful and long lasting presence in the pop culture landscape fading away into the darkness? It's bittersweet. Few if any can remember a time when the Marvel Comics creations of Stan Lee and his compatriots weren't there to inspire us. Fewer still may recognize this titan of super hero action and adventure as a guide for horror fans as well. Characters like The Incredible Hulk and The Thing were clear representations of the classic Jekyll and Hyde characterization and there's an entire rogues gallery of super-villains who portray some, if not all the characteristics of modern and classic horror movie monsters. One of Lee's greatest contributions to the realm of horror in comics came in the 1960's with the publication of Tomb of Dracula.
Tomb of Dracula would pit the iconic, titular villain against a host of vampire slaying heroes in memorable, sometimes familiar settings. Tomb of Dracula would also bring about one of the greatest horror comic heroes of all time: Blade. As editor, he oversaw Tomb of Dracula, Monster of Frankenstein, and an issue of Savage Tales which would give birth to Man-Thing, the Marvel equivalent of DC's Swamp Thing. He gave us characters like werewolf Jack Russell, Ghost Rider, and everyone's favorite evil demon fighting sorcerer Doctor Strange. In his time as a writer, editor, and all around contributor to the seemingly limitless Marvel Universe Stan Lee made sure that fans off all genres could find something to love within the pages of these stories.
We'll let comic book fans and Marvel purists dive into the voluminous depths of Stan Lee's contributions to genre entertainment and literature. They're definitely better suited than some to talk about it. For our part here at 52 Weeks of Horror, we're thankful for the works he either gave us or oversaw that brought to life some incredible horror themed titles and characters over the last seventy years. His life was devoted in no small way to bringing joy, wonder, and most of all hope into the lives of his readers and fans. His characters, many of whom were misunderstood and easily construed by the world around them as "monstrous" showed us that the true mark of a hero is to rise above self doubt and the nay saying of those who would otherwise oppress or shun you in order to bring about a better world.
I choose to think of him as he was in that brief cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Sitting in a stone chair, surrounded by the most ancient and learned beings of the universe, continuing to share his vision throughout the cosmos. His legacy, at least in this universe, is forever solidified. The characters he created, these modern gods and heroes will live on long after we are dead and gone and the hope and heroism they inspire will flourish.
Until we meet again, Stan Lee. Excelsior! And thanks for everything.
Dan is an author, editorialist, podcaster, and horror culture & lifestyle correspondent from the Southeast. You can find Dan's stories at Danno of the Dead Blog and through PDI Press.