Friday , August 12 2022

Opinion: How Stan Lee helped this preacher find his superhero


Stan Lee was always my hero; the feeling I share with many comics fans. But that's not until recently – and especially after his death on Monday at the age of 95 – that I began to realize that my love for him came from my perspective as a black child who grew up in the 1970s reading books.

Not only that, as the editor-in-chief, and later the publisher of Marvel Comics, he helped create the darkest black superheroes of the time, such as Black Panther and The Salc. Or that he developed cold allegories to overcome prejudices and stereotypes rooted in fear and ignorance, such as Ks-Men, Inhumans and The Hulk.

What was cool about Marvel under Stan Lee was realism. They used real cities as the basic base for their heroes, who all grounded themselves in a world that felt more real and more possible. Spider-Man was a kid from Queens; A fantastic four was a family house that was sitting in a high-rise Manhattan building. And Luke Cage was a principled, former African-American ex-conductor himself as a hero for engaging in an office at Times Square.

For a geek child growing up Gary, Ind. – The term blighter, or black nerd, will be much later hidden to describe my lifestyle that caused cool – this was an incredible step forward. I felt like I was learning about the world while I was sitting in my last corner of Northwest Indiana. Somewhere, there was a place to read and write from combat and sports that you became a hero. Or, at least, you let yourself make one or two.

Do not shade DC Comics. But heroes like Superman and The Flash live in great places called Metropolis and Central City. Their stories rarely showed people who looked like me or lived anywhere I recognized. Looking at their exploits, they felt a little apart; as if I were looking at a fairy tale set up on earth like my world … but also not.

The universe of Marvel's Resident Stanford was fragile, wild and often set up in urban areas, I wanted to see them personally. He dealt with new social issues that young people were worried about, and stories were rooted in relative matters. The fantasists were concerned about paying bills for their high staff, while Spider-Man shook his homework and headed the flash Thompson without revealing his power.

Luke Cage, although not Lee's direct creation, was filled with climaxes in the action films Blakploitation I liked then. Considering his own book in 1972, Luke Kage was a proud, practical and total drive in a way that I did not know I had to see until he was in the book that was watching me.

I also liked Lee's way of talking directly to fans, through editorial notes in comics and his columns in books, with his jokey, recognizable patter. I hate to think about how much his style is – with jovial asids slid into action, as if this phrase entered this sentence – it affected my writing. He threw words like "Excelsior!" at the end of the column, giving young fans a common language and culture that could lead us through the inevitable moments when we had to explain our obsessions with these "cartoons" to parents, teachers, or contemptuous perpetrators.

More than anything, Lee made it clear that he created a wonderful, exciting, fictitious universe valued by a wide range of people. Last year, after the white supremacist Unite the Right gathering in Charlottesville, the man himself announced a link to one of his Stanford's 1968 Stanford's Housewives, arguing that "phenomena and racism are one of the most deadly social diseases today. "

At a time when color people were still trying to see them in the main areas, that meant a lot – especially when stories in the comic book supported.

Then there were restrictions on the Left vision. White men were still most often heroes, especially in early books. How much I liked the anti-hero who helped create The Proler, it was a little surprising to see that this character, which was essentially a great burglar, turned out to be a wrong African-American child.

And too many non-white heroes were mugs – like a backup copy of Sokoka Captain America – or they had the power rooted in their racial identity, as well as the customs of that time. We had Black Panther and Black Goliath on Marvel, with Black Lightning and Black Racer in rival DC Comics books.

(I was joking in one column that I just wrote that I always wonder why Thor, God Thunder is not originally called White Lightning.)

Glen Veldon of the NPR noted in the most famous report on how complicated Lee's heritage really is. His tireless self-promotion led to criticism that he had under-loaned too little and did not quite compensate artists who helped him create this incredible universe.

But for a young black kid who is trying to establish his place in the world and in the focus of comics, Stan Lee helped make this journey a bit easier.

Many years ago, I was hit by an advertisement in a black-focus magazine, showing a young black kid staring into a mirror with a towel attached to his shoulders, apparently imagining himself as a powerful superhero. But the face that looked at him from the mirror was a white man in the cape.

Partly thanks to Lee's influence, I could imagine the Black Panther or Sokol, I'm dying in me.

Copiright NPR 2018.

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