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Colored drawing of Marvel's The Hulk

Earth-1218 Says Goodbye to Stan Lee, Creator of the Modern Mythology in Comics


Despite success late-in-life, Lee’s rebellious spirit made comics into a fully autonomous art form.

Stanley Martin Lieber, better known as Stan Lee, is a sort of modern Homer. Like the legendary author of The Iliad and The Odyssey, Lee had the character and vision necessary to lay the foundations for an unprecedented mythology. Born in New York City in 1922, he began his career writing obituaries for newspapers. At age 18, he debuted with his first contribution to Timely Comics (later Marvel), with filler text for the third issue of Captain America.

The young Lee’s secret ambition was to be a famous writer, someone like Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or William Burroughs. Thus, he adopted the penname, “Stan Lee,” as he’d longed to use his real name in a later literary work. Interestingly, while serving in the armed forces during World War II, Lee’s official title was “playwright.” He wrote and sometimes illustrated pamphlets and small patriotic comics. Later, detective stories, those adventures in which the limits of good and evil are blurred, were to become his trademark.

The picture really began to improve in 1961. Approaching his 40th birthday, the most productive period of his career began with the creation of The Fantastic Four, at the hands of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, the draftsmen behind Lee’s other most famous creations, like The Amazing Spiderman.

The social tensions of the age also began to penetrate Lee’s nascent characters: student revolts, racial conflicts, a constant Russian threat to American interests; all of these served the feeding of a vision both buffoonish and raw; beings of impressive physical abilities who always had a weak point, and were marked by deep, existential scars.

At the same time (a time known to fans as the Silver Age of Comics), Lee brought to life The Avengers, the original X-Men (of these, he created the professor Xavier, Magneto Ice-Man, Cyclops, Jean Gray and Beast), Ant-Man, Iron Man, The Wasp, Black Panther (the first African-American superhero), Daredevil, the concept of Inhumans along with SHIELD, Falcon, Hulk and Thor.

In the beginning, all comic books depended far more on their quantity than on the quality of the publications. Lee developed a sharpness for the creation of richer plots, with secondary characters whose dark sides might be explored over the course of the multiple editions. This style of publication rhythm moved later into the films based on the characters, some of which still have millions of fans on the edges of their seats. And they wait precisely for that moment when Lee will make one of his famous cameo appearances.

In the Marvel universe, our own reality is known as “Earth-1218.” Although in this reality, Lee has departed now at some 95 years of age, his legacy and charisma survive. New generations, those who’ve grown fascinated and entertained at the prowess of these characters, as disguised as any performer in the circus, now confronting villains worthy even of Shakespeare.

Imagen: Rufus Gefangenen – flickr

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