Pop Culture

A Stan Lee Appreciation

Rest in Penmanship. The Emperor of Excelsior. Stan “The Man” Lee

A big part of why I can do what I do and continue to do so is because of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  I’ve said for many years that comics and solid fiction were our Homer and Shakespearian tales of the modern world.  These are tales of everyday triumph that inspire and the showcase the human spirit in all of it’s great pursuits despite their flaws, glaring or not. 

Months before my personal Ragnarok,  I went to Orthotic Solutions to get a prosthesis made.  I was going through designs for my leg brace, and I wanted something cool.  The only Marvel character they had was Spiderman.  Spiderman has always been dope to me.  Here you have a guy that no matter what is going on in his personal life as chaotic as it would be at times, he tries to do the right thing.  He always had something slick to say, and that was always funny to me.  He was also known for being incredible agile and strong.  I looked at it, and it was as if the design was built for me.  Jokingly I say, “well I was also looking for Wolverine” but here for me was a symbol.  Despite having one foot, I told myself that I was determined to live life to the best of my ability.  I was going to be strong, I was going to be fit.  I was going to be agile.  

Many of my workouts were in my mind, Danger Room workouts.  I would drop down into a Burpee imagining I was dodging a giant laser or buzz saw. During workout time, I wasn’t just an “amputee” or “disabled” or “handicapped.”  I was a mutant.  Like the mutants of X-men who would showcase their powers under intense trauma, my powers would showcase after my own trauma.  I was a black Donald Blake (Donald Blake was the original host of Thor.  Long story short in the original canon, Thor was cast into the crippled body of Dr Donald Blake so that he may later learn humility.  While on vacation, and under attack, he became Thor.

There is a quote by Emerson, “I find my biography in every fable that I read.”

You may not be a Marvel fan.  You may be a DC fan.  A Darkhorse comics fan.  A fan of fantasy novels.  It matters not.  Stan Lee showed us that the imagination is the most powerful tool that a human being can have. Imagination is what inspires us to be great.  Imagination is what inspires us to pursue our passions.  There are people pursuing independent comic companies because they grew up reading comics.  There are folks in the gym right now, because they were inspired by their favorite character.  I started by LLC with a name that would be powerful, grandiose, and comic-like.  I’m a personal trainer.  The back of my card says “Train like a warrior. Look like a god. Forge your own destiny.”

I work with kids in fitness, and I talk to some of them about comics, fiction and believing they can be the best of whatever they want to be in life.  Everything I do is centered about the heroic philosophy in action. I’m not just Bill in the gym.  

I’m the Wakandan Asgardian hybrid beard god of strength and excellence!

That is the might of Asgard deadlifting that weight!

That is the soul of Wakanda,  when you see my clients and young kids on IG deadlift, and squat that weight! 

That the superhero spirit in action!  

When I train people,  I never intend for them to be mediocre.  I train for them to be ready to face the Celestials.  I train for them to face the Skrull invasion.  You’re not just going to lose a few pounds.  You are training to save the universe.  You’re training to conquer all that you survey!   I see young black kids dressed as Black Panther.  They get to grow up with a black character as their favorite superhero.  It’s normal to them.  In an old appearance, Stan Lee said He (Black Panther) has the potential to be one of the greatest heroes ever ( He is).  This was a quote in a Fantastic Four Marvel Masterworks books that detailed their early exploits from the 60’s.  The 60’s…

One of the greatest quotes in the entire realm of human existence comes from Spiderman.  “With Great Power comes great responsibility.”  We all have a power – a genius a superhuman inside of us-  the capacity for greatness (and yes, here I go heroic preaching LOL) and within that greatness is the responsibility to maximize our lives and do right by it.

I want you to think about this.  Stan Lee got famous through comic books!  Comic books!  That’s a call to action to pursue your passions itself!  We’re not meant to mope around and hate our existence and be miserable.  We were built to dream.  We were built for excellence.  

EXCELSIOR!

RIP STAN “THE MAN” LEE.  May he watch over as all like the Watchers watched over many. – Bill Walker “Strongest Man Alive”

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I always wanted a son. I had a daughter instead and I knew the day my daughter was born that I didn’t want to have any more kids. I was fine having a daughter because I though I would just make her like the things I like.

WRONG.

I tried football. That didn’t work. The only thing about football she really liked was singing “Hail to the Redskins.” I tried basketball. Nope. She just likes chanting “We Are…Georgetown.” So I went to my original pop culture love; Transformers. I got a full two weeks of love out of her. And then, out of the blue, “Daddy, I don’t think I should be watching this.”

But not with Marvel (DC to a certain extent as well). She’s been all in since the first time I took her into a comics store and she picked out, on her own, a Captain Marvel toy. She now has Marvel children’s books. She has Marvel clothes. She just had an art project where she had to disguise a turkey to protect it from being eaten for Thanksgiving. She decided to disguise the turkey as Black Widow.

My wife and I took her to Marvel Universe Live last year and she is still asking to go again.

You should see her joy when I come home from work and say “I have something to show you.”. She knows that means there is a new Marvel movie trailer. For Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel, she was oh so excited to see those trailers. She watched the first Infinity War trailer so many times that she knew it word-for-word.

I say all of this to explain that Stan Lee, along with Jack Kirby and others, created a world that I get to share with my daughter. I don’t know how long this will last. She’s only 7-years-old. However I am so grateful to have these memories.

I will always cherish us clapping in the theater when we saw Captain America’s silhouette during Infinity War. She has no concept of the historical significance of why the first Avengers movie was such a big deal. However, she had the same reaction a comic fan of 50 years had the first time she saw the Avengers finally “assemble.”

You see, this is ours. Her interests may change as she grows older and we’ll still have these times. I’ve never met Stan Lee, but this was his gift to my family. For that I’m forever grateful.  – George Barnette

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GOAT

Rest in Penmanship. The Emperor of Excelsior. Stan “The Man” Lee

The Poverty of words falls too short when you try to describe the man that is quite simply responsible for allowing me to dream.  Most kids in the hood grow up far too fast. Growing up in the 80’s as a black male was daunting, but it would’ve been almost impossible had it not been for the genius that is Stan Lee. Statues should be erected about a visionary that transports young urban dreams from the concrete jungle to the Baxter Building.
Because of Stan Lee, I remain a dreamer.
*tips cap*
-Mike Madison

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The fact that I birthed a boy child is proof that God has a sense of humor. 
I was never one of those girls who imagined her children (or even wanted children, for that matter) but if I did have a kid, I just knew I’d have a girl. I’d have a Mini-Me. I’d teach her everything I know about being a strong, amazing, outspoken woman. We would dress in matching outfits, have mani/pedi dates, and enjoy the girlie things in life.

Well. When I was 19, I got pregnant, and lo and behold, I did not birth the daughter I always figured I’d have. Instead, here comes this screaming yellow baby boy, hungry and indignant and almost a month early. 
I had a boy, and in the early years of his life, figuring out how to relate to a child who picked up worms and was perpetually filthy and hated cleaning his room and his body was interesting. As he grew up, I realized that gender was the least of our differences. My son and I had opposite personalities, and finding things that he and I both truly enjoyed was a challenge. Then, in 2008, one rainy Saturday when he was bouncing off the walls and I felt my patience wearing thin, I took Michael to see Iron Man on a whim. 

We had our snacks, we were settled into the theater, and Michael was his squirming six-year-old (read: annoying) self all through the previews. When the movie started, I experienced something I’d rarely experienced with Michael in his six years of living: Silence. My kid sat, wide-eyed and transfixed, staring at the screen, completely enthralled with Iron Man. He did not ask me for snacks or to take him to the bathroom one single time through the whole movie. I, too, was quite taken with the film. I never thought I’d be sitting through a superhero movie and actually enjoying myself. 

When the movie ended, it was all he and I could talk about. What neither of us realized was that that movie that rainy Saturday began a very special bond Michael and I still share to this day: Our love of the Marvel universe. Over the years, I’ve lost count of how many Marvel movies Michael and I have seen, most of them during opening weekend. Marvel was the first thing that Michael and I found that was ours, that we truly enjoyed together and shared with one another. For weeks, we’d anticipate a Marvel release, often going to the theater in our Marvel shirts to see the movie. Most recently, we got tickets for opening weekend of Black Panther, and I sat next to my then-fifteen-year-old, now taller than me, the same wide-eyed wonder and excitement on his face that I saw when he was six sitting through his very first Marvel masterpiece.

Stan Lee gave me the gift of a very unique bond with my son. I was a young mother struggling to figure out a way to relate to her boy child. He was a little boy with a huge imagination. Stan Lee offered us a common ground, a place where our differences didn’t matter. He gave us years of memories and bonding in movie theaters over many Marvel releases. Stan Lee gave us Spiderman, and Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk. He also gave me and my son something that was and still is just between the two of us, something that we have enjoyed together for over a decade now. I appreciate him most not for his genius and skill, but for his incredible propensity to create movies that brought people together. 

That’s exactly what he did for my son and me.
Alisa Renee
@author.alisa

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