Why Smilin & # 39; Stan Lee is the biggest super hero of them all Books


JWhen Peter Parker is bitten by radioactive spiders and the humble Bruce Banner is blown up by gamma rays, so each announcer Stan Lee has a story of origin to tell. One minute they are just weak school children. Next – you blam! – they have been chosen. They found comic-glowing radioactivity on a shelf under a news agency, or hiding in a dentist's waiting room – and since then, their lives have changed. Inside the blanket, muscular freaks mastering nature overcame the galaxy's biggest problem. However, most importantly, it always feels as if the costumed giant is not so different from humble school children who love them.

Or, in other words, for a generation of British fans who grew up in the 1970s and 80s, Marvel is a childhood that is equivalent to Beatlemania. Marvel cleans spider webs with the same insurrectionist powers as Twist and Shout or I Want to Hold Your Hand. It was a surprise from the explosion of pure new pop culture that changed the Technicolor world. These days, Marvel's universe extends throughout merchandise, amusement parks, and an endless collection of Hollywood films. But at that time, the kingdom was mostly limited to a weekly list of superheroes. Everything is alright. We grew up in Noddy, Blue Peter, and TV test cards. The character itself is almost too rich for our taste.

We know who is responsible. The man never loses credit. Stan Lee becomes Willie Wonka, PT Barnum, Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. Periodically, he showed his grinning face. However, most of him worked hard, compiled a great team of writers and illustrations, and spread his super group of green giants and soulful silver aliens.

Super-powered ... Stan Lee and John Romita worked in 1976.

Super-powered … Stan Lee and John Romita worked in 1976. Photo: AP

Daredevil, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Submariner: there are so many names, one struggling to follow it. So you have to choose your favorite and stick with them through thick and thin. Over the years, I have retained subscriptions for Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. My family name was written in pencil at the top of every problem and kept behind the counter at the newsagent every week. These comics sell for 7p each. Even in infancy, this seems to me to be a very good value. I once wrote to Stan Lee to thank him. I think he never reciprocated.

Born Stanley Lieber of Jewish immigrant parents, Lee started at the bottom of the pulp magazine business, filling ink bottles at Timely Comics in New York. He later became a brand name, giant, industrial one person, with all that was needed. On the page, for public consumption, he is always "Stan the Man" or "Smilin & # 39; Stan", as well as a fun creative uncle and dynamo. But from behind the stage a story about an alter ego that is less developed. It was said that Lee took credit, stole wealth and relegated key colleagues – such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko – for the role of insignificant bit players. Everyone and everything was grist to his factory, first sparked and then brushed up his reputation as the most influential popular artist of the 20th century.

How big is Lee's influence? Where do people start? You can measure its success in terms of homelessness in seats and money in the bank. The Marvel Comics Universe film has grossed around $ 11 billion and continues to grow. Lee's own net worth is around $ 80 million. Except that all this would not be possible without the stories themselves – without stories that unfold with the shock and zeal of cinematic storyboards and come specifically in harmony with contemporary American tensions (whether it is Vietnam, civil rights or threat of nuclear destruction).

In the end, of course, everything goes back to the story. If the west is the myth of the founding of America, then Marvel from Lee is a modern legend. Here, on all Glo-glory days, we have a fictional universe to organize together from Mount Olympus and King Arthur's round table, full of heroism and sadness, courage and self-doubt. While there is a do-gooders costume before Lee arrives (straight Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne is gaping at the rock), his character feels different. As documented in Michael Chabon's novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, this is the supermen fantasy dreamed of by outsiders. They are versions of Jewish immigrant heroism where wisdom, anxiety and neurosis are part of the package as well as strength and patriotism – and sometimes more than that.

There is darkness and nuance for all the best Marvel characters. The Incredible Hulk, blessing him, is Jung's case study on steroids, constantly fighting with his shadow. Spider-Man is a kind of adolescent who is attacked, spraying sticky liquid onto four walls, while Ben Grimm (aka The Thing) is a body dysmorphia made by monsters, a poetic soul trapped in the carapace of a musclebound roughneck. These people (Marvel's main failure is that it is mostly done by men) have the power to change the world above his head. But they also look more damned because they are blessed.

A Jungian case study of steroids ... the Hulk in the 2003 film adaptation.

A Jungian case study of steroids … the Hulk in a 2003 film adaptation. Photo: Universal / Marvel / Kobal / Rex / Shutterstock

Naturally, I saved my Marvel subscription for years, because the price rose first to 8p, then it became a double number. And then, just as naturally, I let it go – move to music, big books, and teen storms. Except that, in the week of Lee's death, I realized that no one really moved – the first love marked you forever. The years that I have spent loudly saying that the story of the first great adventure I read was The Lord of the Rings, and the great portrait of the first teenager was The Catcher in the Rye – what garbage has now turned into reality. That is the Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, and all the rest, too. Marvel taught me how to read, how to think. Maybe this is still the case today. Show me the glossy cover by John Buscema and I will start salivating.

"If you want to send a message, call Western Union," said Hollywood maestro Samuel Goldwyn, a man who believed that popular entertainment died when it turned into a lecture. However, when looking back, from going to middle age, it was felt that Marvel sent a very noble message to small children who made mistakes to the universe just before the hormone entered. It tells them that, yes, they have superpower. That they can influence the world, that maturity is an adventure. But it also says that, guess what, your life will still fall apart. Your increased speed and strength will create new problems and gain great strength will bring great responsibility.

In this case, the best course of action is to be kind and kind. Fight injustice on every occasion. Build people when you see them in need. Listen to angels from your better nature. That way you can also imitate Marvel's greatest heroes, whether it's Spider-Man, Daredevil, or Stan Lee himself.


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