Many people have said all the things about this guy, better than I could. But there’s one aspect to Stan I haven’t seen mentioned explicitly yet, and want to get my take out there.
What always amazed me about Stan was how many amazing, sympathetic characters he created in collaboration with other creatives. I often think about how many more of his creations I identify with than other worldbuilders. (Even more than Le Guin, and that is really saying something.) I mean, sure, when I was very young and watching superhero media, I loved Wonder Woman more than any other icon. But she was aspirational. I actually identified more with the Hulk, because the Hulk was always messing things up for Bruce Banner, even though Banner tried really hard to keep things together.
Yeah. As a kid, that really hit home.
Jean Grey/Phoenix and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch were similar. I identified with them because even though they had a lot more power than nearly anyone else, they also didn’t have the best control of it. Shit could blow up, sometimes despite their best efforts. As a kid with poor hand-eye coordination and not great fine motor control, in a family who had both in spades, that was kind of a balm. Knowing that sometimes, even people who are super can fuck things up.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought these characters (and more) to me, and gave me a context to understand myself in a different way. Kirby was gone before I really had gotten my arms around my fandom, but Lee? I got to see him as separate from the comics, and for that I’m grateful.
Thanks for everything, Stan.