Stan Lee, Marvel Comics Icon, Dies at 95

Stan Lee, the mind behind well-known superheroes like Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Black Panther, died Monday.

Stan Lee, the Marvel Comics co-creator, has died. He was 95.

Lee, the mind behind well-known superheroes like Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Black Panther, died Monday, according to TMZ.

Marvel announced the news on Twitter.

Today, we pause and reflect with great sadness on the passing of Stan Lee:

— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) November 12, 2018

In a tweet, rival house DC Comics paid tribute to Lee, saying modern-day comics "will always bear his indelible mark."

"Excelsior, Stan," the tweet concluded, a nod to Lee's catchphrase.

He changed the way we look at heroes, and modern comics will always bear his indelible mark. His infectious enthusiasm reminded us why we all fell in love with these stories in the first place. Excelsior, Stan.

— DC (@DCComics) November 12, 2018

Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber to parents Celia and Jack Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922. As a child, he was heavily influenced by books and movies, especially those starring Errol Flynn.

“I thought that this guy was the greatest because he always played such heroic roles,” Lee said of Flynn in a 2006 interview. “He was either the sheriff of Dodge City, or he was Robin Hood, or he was Captain Blood. When I would leave the theater ... I would imagine I had a little crooked smile on my face the way Errol Flynn did, and an imaginary sword at my side.”

As a teenager living in the Bronx, Lee spent his days writing and working a number of part-time jobs, including writing obituaries and press releases, delivering sandwiches, ushering, and selling subscriptions to the New York Herald Tribune.

With the help of his uncle, Robbie Solomon, Lee in 1939 was hired as an assistant at Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel, where he filled inkwells, got lunch for the artists, proofread copy and erased pencil marks from completed pages.

He went on to become a writing filler, making his comic book debut with “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” in 1941.

It wasn’t long before he graduated to creating his own comics, developing the Destroyer, and helping to create Jack Frost and Father Time.

When editor Joe Simon and his creative partner Jack Kirby left the company in 1941, publisher Martin Goodman installed 18-year-old Lee as interim editor.

But the vast and detailed comic book world Lee would go on to create almost never existed, as he grew tired of his career and considered quitting in the 1950s.

At the urging of his wife, Joan, who said he had nothing to lose, Lee turned the narrative of all-powerful and perfect superheroes on its head, instead experimenting with stories of characters with flaws and problems that often counteracted their superpowers

The idea was a success, and Lee went on to create the characters that would become cultural mainstays, including the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and, of course, Spider-Man.

He stopped writing monthly comic books to assume the role of publisher in 1972, and went on to become the figurehead and public face of Marvel Comics.

Lee could often be counted on to appear at comic book conventions and his cameos in films adapted from his comic books were the stuff of legends. He was also heavily involved in charity work, founding the Stan Lee Foundation in 2010. The nonprofit focuses on improving access to literacy resources, education and the arts while also promoting diversity.

Even as he reached his 90s, Lee was spry and traveled around the world to greet fans at appearances and comic conventions, but his health had deteriorated in recent months.

In January, Lee was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with shortness of breath and irregular heartbeat, but he later assured supporters that he was on the mend.

“Hiya, heroes. This is Stan Lee,” he said with a shortness of breath. “I haven’t been in touch with you lately. Had a little bout of pneumonia I’ve been fighting, but it seems to be getting better. But I want you all to know I’m thinking of you.”

Lee continued: “Of course, I always think of the fans and I hope you’re all doing well, and I miss you all. I miss your enthusiasm. I miss all the notes and the photos and the emails I used to get — and I still get a lot of them.

“And I want you to know that I still love you all,” he said. “And I think that Marvel and Spidey and I had the best group of fans that any group in the world ever had and I sure appreciate it. So let me know how you’re doing. I hope everything is going well for you. And I hope next time we talk, I’ll be in even better shape. Maybe I’ll even have some of this pneumonia knocked down and we can have some real fun over the incident. Till then, excelsior!”

He was preceded in death by his wife of almost 70 years, Joan Clayton Boocock, who was 95 years old when she died from complications of a stroke on July 6, 2017.