Marvel fans commemorate Stan Lee ahead of his 96th birthday, which is on Dec. 28.
Friday marks the 96th birthday for Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee, who passed away last month.
At Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, owner Joe Murray said in his mind, Lee is the voice of the store, where the mission statement is to make sure everyone leaves with a smile – whether they buy something or not.
“He was the king of over-the-top hucksterism that was so tongue in cheek, but it made you feel so good,” Murray said. “It’s just Stan winking at you the whole time.”
While he doesn’t have a specific Lee character in mind as his favorite, Murray, who’s originally from Smyrna, pointed to two early Lee-penned works as the pinnacle of his storytelling prowess.
Those two comics were “Daredevil” issue 7, where Matt Murdock battles the Sub Mariner, and “Spider-Man” issue 34, where Spidey gets a building dropped on him.
“The whole time, [Spider-Man] is saying, ‘I can’t lose – Aunt May needs her medicine, the city needs me, I’ve got to be more,’” said Murray.
“Basically after that issue they could have just stopped, because you learned all you needed to know about Spidey in that one story – that kid from Queens that wouldn’t give up, that’s doing the right thing for the right reasons,” he said.
Viral Milford cosplayer
Longtime Marvel fan Jonathan Green cosplays as multiple characters, including Deadpool and Black Panther. Lee created the latter with Jack Kirby in 1966.
Green, formerly of Lincoln, said Lee is tied to one of his favorite cosplay moments from this year.
That moment occurred September at Dragon Con in Atlanta, where a group of black cosplayers did a photo parodying the infamous Barbecue Becky – a white woman made headlines in April for calling the police on a group of black people, claiming they weren’t allowed to grill in a park.
In the spoof photo, a white cosplayer pretended to call the cops while black cosplayers, including Green dressed as Black Panther, stood behind her and looked miffed.
The photo instantly went viral.
“It was crazy. I’ve personally seen it on George Takei’s [Twitter] page and on Reddit. I’ve seen it everywhere,” Green said.
“We all thought it was hilarious. Given the circumstances, the original situation wasn’t that hilarious and was a very serious issue. But the fact that these black cosplayers got together and understood it, they were able to turn a negative into a positive.”
Mom moved by Marvel
Lee wore many hats at Marvel over the years, including writer, editor and publisher. He co-created huge characters like Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk, Thor, Loki, Iron Man and Magneto, along with groups like the Fantastic Four and X-Men.
Dover resident Belineda Lamadieu, who grew up a fan of the X-Men, said Lee’s passing hit her hard.
“When I heard about his death, it affected me because it made me think about my childhood,” she said.
As a kid, Lamadieu’s uncle shared his comic book collection with her and her brother. She was drawn to an electrifying heroine in the X-Men, a black character.
“My No. 1 favorite character would be Storm, because growing up you didn’t see superheroes who looked like me,” Lamadieu said.
“Other than having faith and looking up to God, we always have to look at other things to draw strength from,” the Dover resident said. “I always looked to Storm for where I got my strength from, by not holding my tongue for anyone, speaking my mind and being brave.”
Lamadieu likens her personality to Storm.
“I’m very calm and personable,” she said. “But I’m also a mom, so if someone targets my kids, I turn into mama bear and I feel like electricity is coming from me.”
‘It’s too sad’
Comic shop owner Murray said he and his fellow employees knew Lee didn’t have long to live after his wife of 70 years, Joan Lee, passed away in 2017.
When Stan The Man died Nov. 12, however, they couldn’t bring themselves to prepare in any physical way, Murray said.
“We were going to have armbands printed that said ‘Excelsior,’ but we never did. It’s too sad,” Murray said.
“Excelsior” was Lee’s catchphrase, which means “higher” or “upward.”
Lamadieu said the Marvel icon will never be forgotten because he’s too famous across multiple generations.
“I have kids, and his legacy has become part of me and my kids’ lives,” the 29-year-old mom said.
Oddly enough, Green said, out of all the characters in the Marvel Universe, Deadpool is the only one that can understand the concept that Lee is dead.
That’s because Deadpool has the ability to break the fourth wall and recognize he’s just a character himself.
Pen beats sword
Green said Lee will always have a special place in his heart because his comics touched on relevant social issues. He enjoyed Lee so much that he created a portrait to commemorate the icon.
Lee addressed social issues in comics. The X-Men books offered underlying messages about accepting people who look differently than you.
“That’s the beauty of Stan Lee. He was fighting what we were fighting, politically and racially in comic books,” Green said.
To unite others
In a 2017 video posted to Marvel’s YouTube channel, Lee said the company always has been and always will be a reflection of the world outside our window.
“Those stories have room for everyone, regardless of their race, gender, religion or color of their skin. The only things we don’t have room for are hatred, intolerance and bigotry,” Lee said.
In the same video, Lee said it’s important we all look out for one another.
“That man next to you, he’s your brother. That woman over there, she’s your sister. And that kid walking by – hey, who knows – he might have the proportionate strength of a spider,” Lee said.
“We’re all part of one big family, the human family,” Lee said. “And we all come together in the body of Marvel.”