Wednesday, March 21, 2007

more Stan Lee

After having written that post yesterday on Thor, I thought I might follow up with more on his creator. Not Odin, his father, but Stan Lee. Of course he also created most of the Marvel line. We know him for Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the Incredible Hulk, the X-men, Iron Man.......If you think of a recent Super-hero film with a Marvel character, chances are it had its distant origins in the imagination of Stan Lee.

Just as Ueshiba Osensei revolutionized martial arts with the creation of aikido, Stan Lee did so with comics, and, in the process, probably saved an entire industry. I found Marvel a couple of years after I'd stopped reading comics. In my middle high school years. All of a sudden I found a new line of comics on the newsstands. The art seemed qurkier than what I had been used to, even surreal, and the stories dealt with heroes and heroines coping with the fact that they suddenly found themselves with extraordinary abilities. This is being done very well on the current NBC show "Heroes". Incidentally, did anyone catch Stan's guest appearance on that show a couple of weeks ago?

So when the new comics would come in I would just drift off into another world. I'd read them before going to sleep. And I wouldn't just read them. Everything was read and re-read. I had Stan Lee's words etched deeply in my mind.In some way it is not farfetched to say that he had a lot to do with whom I've become.After all, I put on a change of clothes to go to work and then attempt to balance the everyday world with the energy realm. The first time I saw a picture of Osensei in a martial arts magazine, I was reminded of a character Stan Lee(along with Steve Ditko) created: the Ancient One, the teacher of Dr. Strange, another of my Marvel favorites.

Towards the end of high school, I actually wrote into Marvel and received a blue postcard back signed by Stan himself. I put this in a collection of old Spider-man stories re-printed in paperback. I keep telling myself I should look for it. But I'm always afraid that I'll find out that I no longer have it.

This summer's Fantastic Four movie features one of my all time favorite Lee characters, the Silver Surfer. I still have his original appearance in the comics, the "Galactus" trilogy. I used to imagine that his surfboard was Osensei's magical floating bridge and that I was standing there firing cosmic energy blasts to balance the universe.

One thing that Lee did was that he not only created new comics, but a new mythology as well.Osensei went to the Kojiki and its mythology to understand the movement and properties of ki.As I said yesterday, I realized that a certain quality and place in the energy literally was "Thor" and his hammer. I wonder what Stan Lee must think to now see his creations in major, major motion pictures? That symbols and images that revealed themselves to him in is New York offices in the'60's are now so much of our culture that you see Spider-man backpacks and school binders?

I came back to comics in the late '80's after the first Michael Keaton Batman film. I tried Marvel, but found that everything seemed a distant re-hash of Stan Lee's work. It seemed to me that DC had moved more into the character development and psychological twists that Marvel pioneered in Stan Lee's tenure. So I've been basically DC ever since. But watching the movies, sitting in the dark before a huge screen, part of me is still in his mid-teens watching Stan's creations do their thing. As the man himself might say,"Excelsior!"


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