On November 12, 2018 legendary comic book creator Stan Lee, who was responsible for so much of the Marvel Universe, passed away at the age of ninety-five. Lee co-created many beloved characters such as Spider-Man, The Hulk, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, The X-Men, Iron Man, and Thor, just to name a few. Today, Ignitia looks back at a true comic book hero.

Stan Lee’s Early Life

Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Leiber on December 28, 1922, in Manhattan, NY. As a child growing during the Great Depression, Lee said he was influenced largely by the books of Errol Flynn, particularly those in which he played a hero. As a teen, Lee dreamed of writing the Great American Novel, and upon graduating joined the WPA Federal Theatre Company.

Creating His First Characters

At the age of seventeen in 1939, Lee joined the new Timely Comics division of The Martin Goodman company. By the 1960’s, Timely Comics had become Marvel Comics. At the time Lee was only an assistant. His duties included getting lunch, filling inkwells, and proofreading. But he moved up fast. Lee’s first real assignment was as a text filler on the third issue of, Captain America. Two issues later, he was given an actual writing assignment: writing for ‘Headline’ Hunter, Foreign Correspondent’. Two years later, Stan Lee co-created his very first original character, The Destroyer. During this same he also co-created Jack Frost, and Father Time, both for the Captain America comic.

How The Justice League Revived Marvel

That same year in 1941, due to departures by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Stan Lee was promoted to editor. Eventually, Stan would be promoted to editor-in-chief, a position he would remain in until 1972. In 1942 however, Stan was called to serve the nation in the second World War. After the war, in the 1950’s Timely had become Atlas Comics, and most of Stan’s time was filled writing romance, Western, sci-fi, and fiction stories. That was, until later in the 1950’s when DC Comics renewed the national interest in super hero comics with the revival of, The Justice League series.

The Birth of the Marvel Universe

In response to DC’s move, Stan Lee was charged with coming up with new superheroes for Atlas Comics. In creating his characters, Lee decided to make them more human, giving them flaws as opposed to the nearly perfect superheroes of the past. By giving these characters complexity, and flaws, such as bad tempers, vanity, and insecurity he made them more relatable. Soon, Stan partnered with Jack Kirby to create the Fantastic Four. The team was a huge success. From there the pair also co-created, The Hulk, Iron Man, The X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and eventually Spider Man. All of these character existed in the same universe, and eventually Lee and Kirby would put them all, as well as Captain America onto one team known as, The Avengers.

A Champion of Justice and Equal Rights

By 1966, The Amazing Spider Man had become the company’s most popular comic. In writing the comic, Stan Lee focused as much on the characters’ personal lives as he did on the big action sequences. The characters addressed the current political and social issues of the day such as the Vietnam war. In 1967, when the character of Robbie Robertson was introduced to The Amazing Spider Man, it was first time an African-American character played a major role in the comics. Shortly thereafter, the character of Black Panther created.

Later Years, Accolades, and a Grateful Fanbase

Stan Lee remained with Marvel through the 1970’s and 1980’s creating graphic novels and television shows. In the 1990’s Stan Lee created his own company called, Stan Lee Media. As Marvel Studios took off, Stan Lee remained intimately involved with many of the projects, and made many cameos in the powerhouse movies. In almost every Marvel Movie that’s come out since the 1990’s, Stan Lee is credited as an executive producer. In 2010, the Stan Lee Foundation was launched to promote literacy, education, and the arts. Stan Lee was presented with the Vanguard Award by the Producer’s Guild of America in 2012, and passed away due to natural causes at the age of ninety-five on November 12, 2018. Legions of fans mourn the passing of a true legend who created so many of the character who made their lives so much brighter.