Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

Stan Lee became a hero in his own right, leaving a legacy

Zeke Martin

Contributing Writer

Stanley Martin Lieber, better known as Stan Lee, the creator of the Avengers, the X-Men and Black Panther, passed away on Nov. 12.  Thousands have payed tribute to Lee in the wake of his passing, including Tokyo Comic Con, which unveiled a memorial to him at this year’s convention.  And at the premier of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,”  pins bearing the likeness of Lee’s iconic aviator glasses were handed out to moviegoers. 

Lee’s passing has also brought to light his many contributions both to the world of comics and the world at large. In 1962, for instance, Lee and two of his partners, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, created “The Marvel Method,” a style of collaborative workflow that connected artists with writers and greatly increased the speed at which Marvel could produce new content. Later, after Lee rose from a writer at an upstart comic book company to chairman emeritus of one of the largest multimedia companies in the world, his direct role at Marvel began to decrease and he began to use his power to pursue other projects. He partnered with the History Channel to release “Stan Lee’s Superhumans,” a series documenting real-life people with extraordinary abilities, and with the NHL to produce superhero characters for each of the hockey teams in the league. He also founded his own charitable organization, the Stan Lee Foundation, which, according to its website, “strives to provide equal access to literacy and education” by partnering with “leading nonprofit, educational and arts organizations.” 

Stan Lee was also prominent in activism, using his position of power to promote racial equality in a divided America. First and foremost, he created Black Panther, the first black superhero in comics, in 1966, at the height of the American Civil Rights movement when black people lived in constant fear of hate and violence. Just two years later, in December of 1968, eight months after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lee published an editorial titled “Stan’s Soapbox” which spoke out against prejudice. He described bigotry and racism as being “among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today.” He described bigots as “unreasoning haters” who hate “blindly, fanatically [and] indiscriminately” and said that “the only way to destroy them is to expose them to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are.” He closed his editorial with a sentiment which, while written in language some might view as outdated, expresses a sentiment that will continue to be vital for generations to come: “Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God — a God who calls us ALL — His children. Pax et Justitia, Stan.” These powerful words, spoken with a voice that was heard across the country, could not have been more vital. One only hopes that similarly powerful voices will continue to speak out in favor of “peace and justice,” as Lee’s closing note translates, in our era.

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