As a kid, I loved Spider-Man comics. He was a cool web slinger who not only took on and cleverly defeated “normal” criminals, but also those crazed ones like the Green Goblin, Venom, and Doctor Octopus.
But one of the big reasons I loved the comics was because of Peter Parker, Spider-Man’s alter ego or vice versa. Peter was a nerdy teenager who looked after his elderly Aunt May. He was smart and always broke and didn’t live in a mansion. To make extra bucks he even sold photographs of himself as Spider-Man to Daily Bugle publisher, J. Jonah Jameson. Peter was just an everyday kid, but when he put on that suit–POW. He became slick, fast and funny. A bringer of justice. He became the Amazing Spider-Man.
With the news of Stan Lee’s death on Nov. 12, I began remembering those days when I read Spider-Man comics in my bedroom and regularly escaped into the world of the web slinger.
Spidey was the creation of writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko. The hero was first seen on the pages of the anthology comic book Amazing Fantasy in 1962. So popular, Spider-Man got his own comics.
By the time I got around to reading them in elementary school, I was buying the comics second hand. I bought new issues when I could afford them which wasn’t often but still managed to collect lots of them to read and reread. Not being wealthy and kind of nerdy myself, Peter was someone to whom I could relate. I felt myself an outsider then and was drawn to them in comics. Not only Peter, but Superman—the ultimate outsider, and Bruce Wayne. I guess I loved how the nerdy and outsiders could do the extraordinary.
From Lee’s imagination and in partnership with other comic book innovators arose a diverse and wonderful range of heroes from Thor to X-Men, Iron Man to Daredevil, Dr. Strange to Black Panther. Enough to fill the Marvel universe. The characters were often flawed but very human in their fight against evil.
When the Marvel movies started, it was a kick to see the heroes on the huge screen. Needless to say, I was a big fan of the Spider-Man films. Even though he swung around the city thanks to CGI, the heart of the stories were about Peter, his relationships and dealing with being a hero.
Over the past few days, I’ve been reading about Lee’s successes, troubles, and setbacks in the comic book industry and over his long career. According to some articles, Steve Ditko and comic book writer and artist Jack Kirby claimed the lion’s share of credit for the creation of Spider-Man, saying Lee’s part was minimal. Even with that, Lee’s accomplishments are still pretty awesome.
But I still go back to my memories of being a kid, sitting on my bed reading comics. Back then I didn’t think about who wrote them or illustrated them, I just thought about the characters, the story and the action.
I just thought about how much I loved them. And I’d like to believe Stan Lee wouldn’t have asked for more than that.