Stan Lee was always my character; a feeling that I share with many comic book fans. But only recently – and especially after his first death on Monday, at the age of 95 – I began to realize that some of his love for him came directly from my perspective as a black kid who grew up in a comic book in the 1970s.
It was not only that, as editor-in-chief and later Marvel Comics publisher, he helped create the coolest black superheroes such as Black Panther and The Falcon. Or he created cool allegories to overcome prejudice and stereotypes rooted in fear and ignorance, such as X-Men, Nehumanas and Hulk.
What was cool about Marvel by Stan Lee was realism. They used the actual city as the base of their heroic home base, which grounded all with the world that felt the real and possible. Spider-Man was a spit baby from Queens; Fantastic Four was a British family headquartered in Manhattan's high-rise. And Luke Cage was the principle, the former African-American constant who invented himself as a hero to hire from Times Square.
Gary, Ind. – The term blerd or black nerd, who just passed later to describe his cool challenged lifestyle, was an amazing step forward. I felt that I had learned about the world, sitting in the rear corner of my northwest Indiana. Somewhere there was a place to read and write better than fighting and sports made you a hero. Has at least been allowed to create one or two of them.
Do not Fight DC Comics. But heroes like Superman and The Flash lived in glemising places called Metropolis and the Central City. Their stories rarely showed people who looked like me or lived everywhere I know. Watching them in operation felt a bit disconnected; how to watch a fairy tale located in the land that is my world … but not.
Stan Lee's Marvel Universe was sandy, lighter and often fixed in the city's premises, which I wanted to see personally. He addressed the topical social issues with which young people took care, with stories rooted in related issues. The Fantastic Four took care of paying the bills to their senior staff while Spider-Man was blamed for homework and theft of Flash Thompson without disclosing his powers.
Luke Cage, although not a direct creation of Lee, was filled with props for the Blaxploitation action films I loved. Given his own series of books in 1972, Luke Cage was a proud, practical and complete force in the way that I did not know that I had to see it while it was not in the book that looked at me.
I also love Lee's way of talking directly to fans using editor's notes in comic books and his columnist's books, with his jokey, distinctive patter. I do not want to think about how much his style – with clumsy edges highlighted in action, like this passage slipped in this sentence, influenced my writing. He dropped words like "Excelsior!" At the end of the column, young fans are given a common language and culture that we can end up in inevitable moments when we had to explain our obsession with these "cartoons" to parents, teachers, or despicable hooligans.
More than anything, Lee made it clear that he created a miraculous, exciting, imaginative universe that appreciated a wide range of people. Last year, following the white man's "Unite Right" gathering in Charlottesville, the man himself named a link to one of his "Stan's Soapbox" columns since 1968, arguing that "fanatics and racism are one of the deadliest social hardships that are struggling nowadays. . "
At a time when colorful people were still struggling to see them in the main rooms, this feeling meant a lot – especially if it was complemented with comic stories.
Then there were limitations to Lee's vision. The white men were still the most common heroes, especially in early books. As far as I liked the anti-hero that he helped create under the name The Prowler, it was a little despicable to see that this character, which was essentially a super theft, turned out to be a misunderstood African-American child.
And too many unscrupulous heroes were contentious – for example, the master of the American reserve "The Falcon" – or had the same powers based on their racial identity, as was the tradition of that time. So we had Black Panther and Black Goliath at Marvel, with Black Lightning and Black Racer in competing DC Comics books.
(I'm joking in a column that I wrote for a while, I think Thor, God of Thunder, was not initially named White Lightning).
Glen Weldon, NPR, noted the true legacy of Lee in the greatest obituary. His tireless self-promotion led to criticism that he had too little to do with credits and did not give fair compensation to the artists who helped him create this amazing universe.
But for a young black child who is trying to prove his place in the world and in a comic book, Stan Lee helped make this journey a little easier.
Many years ago, I was struck by the ad in a black focus magazine featuring a new black kid shining on a towel fastened with shoulder pads, clearly imagining a mighty superhero. But the face that again pushed back to her in the mirror was a white man with a head.
Partly thanks to Lee's influence, I could imagine that Black Panther or The Falcon looks at me rather than.
Copyright NPR 2018.