LOS ANGELES — Stan “The Man” Lee has died. He was 95 years old.
The comic book legend had been battling poor health in recent years, including what he described as “a little bout of pneumonia” this past February. He was pronounced dead on Monday at Cedars Sinai Medical Center following a medical emergency, according to reports from Variety magazine. The announcement of his death comes from Kirk Schenk, an attorney for Lee’s daughter, Joan Celia “J.C.” Lee.
Lee and his daughter had suffered a strained relationship since the death of his wife, Joan, in July of 2017, with the elder Lee hinting at “elder abuse.” At this time, however, there are no signs of neglect or abuse reported in connection with the nonagenarian’s passing.
One Of The Last Links To The Golden Age
Born Stanley Lieber, Stan Lee’s career in comics began in 1939, at Timely Comics, where he worked as an artist’s assistant. The job involved menial duties like refilling ink, cleaning the pencil-work from pages after inking, and getting the artists’ lunches. By late 1941, he had risen to first writer, and then editor, and was named the comic-book division’s Editor-in-Chief shortly before the United States entered World War II.
A Creator Through The Years . . .
Following the war, Lee returned to his position at the helm of Timely Comics and oversaw the company’s transition and re-branding as Atlas Comics in 1950, and then Marvel Comics a decade later. In 1972, he took over as Marvel’s Publisher, replacing the original owner of the company, Martin Goodman. Lee remained in that position until 1996. While moving on to other projects and companies of his own, he remained a public figurehead and ambassador-at-large for the Marvel Comics universe and characters until his death.
Throughout his career, Stan Lee has been known for the characters he created. His first published creation was The Destroyer, appearing in 1941. In the 1960s, with long-time friend and co-creator Jack Kirby, Lee began creating some of the most iconic characters in the Marvel line-up, starting with The Fantastic Four. Soon after, the Hulk, Iron Man, and others followed. Staples from the 1940s, like Captain America, were revived and returned to newsstands.
. . . And A Voice For the Ages
In addition to new characters, under Lee, Marvel’s approach to superheroes radically differed from that of their main competitor, DC Comics. Where DC’s heroes were largely paragons of virtue, whose conflicts arose from their costumed opponents, Marvel’s faced more complex problems. Lee’s characters dealt with the issues of paying their bills, alcoholism, depression, and (especially in the case of the Hulk), anger management problems. As the years went on, the stories tackled real-world issues, like racism, and the Vietnam War, and so did Lee himself. In 1968, Lee wrote, “Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them — to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater — one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately.”
After leaving Marvel, Lee’s work to address social ills continued with the establishment of the Stan Lee Foundation. The Foundation “is dedicated to supporting programs and ideas that:
Provide people access (all ages) to literacy resources helping them to participate and communicate in an engaged, and interdisciplinary, learner-centered environment for self-improvement and self-sufficiency.
Promote diversity, national literacy, culture and the arts.
Embrace innovation, integrity and scholarly and artistic engagement to build a community of learners, collaborators and creators.”
A member of the US Army Signal Corps during WWII, Stan posted to his Facebook page only yesterday, thanking members of the military for their service.
And for all the years of raising awareness, social activism, and just plain spinning damned fine yarns, thank you, Stan Lee.