By The Almost Famous Robbie Brooks
If I were to walk up to a random stranger and tell them that Stanley Martin Lieber was a great man, they might think me a crazy person and wonder what I’m selling. If I were to do the same and tell them about Stan Lee, they just might jump at the chance to tell me their favorite Character he helped create or what their favorite MCU Cameo of his was. Maybe it’s the Security Guard in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Or the pompous veteran in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. The “Tony Stank” scene in Civil War comes to mind.
Truth be told, Stanley Martin Lieber and Stan Lee are one in the same.
We lost the Godfather of Marvel yesterday, True Believers, and already the World seems just a bit dimmer. The halls of the School where I work were filled with word of his death. Kennedy comes to mind. Needless to say, I had a hard time keeping my head up for the remainder of the day.
Stan Lee was the only man I would ever pay $200 to spend one hour with, and I once did just that. He, a small group of others, and I sat in a small room and talked Comics. We laughed over stories of his life and he wowed us with where he got his ideas. He took photos with us and signed our Comics. He answered our questions with much enthusiasm and didn’t once show disinterest.
That’s just the kind of man he was. He was happy to be there with us, his fans.
Comic fanatic, Nicolas Cage once told Stan Lee that he was a Father to us all and who am I to argue with that? I asked Stan what he would change about the Movies based upon his works and he said, “Nothing.” See, we the fans might sometimes nitpick the adaptations of his works, whether it’s casting or plot changes or Fox making strange X-Men and Fantastic Four choices, but Stan the Creator accepted others’ visions full heartedly. No arguments were made.
He signed my copy of Amazing Spider-Man #49 and we shared some more laughs together. We were supposed to just give Stan a fist bump due to his age, but he came to me with a handshake. I’ve shaken the hands of a lot of great people, but this handshake was one of my favorites. That was one of the greatest moments of my life.
I met Stan one more time the following year. I brought my copy of the X-Men 50th Anniversary One-Shot Comic for him to sign. Chris Claremont, a writer who himself helped the X-Men grow, was also in attendance. So why not have him sign it too? I went to Chris first and we talked Comics and the business and I quickly learned that he was a bit rougher around the edges, though just as amazing as Stan. He signed my Comic and then I went straight to Stan. When I got to his booth, Stan shook my hand right away. Once again, no fist bump. I told him that it was good to see him again and how we had met the year before. He joked, “Oh yes, you were the guy in the Brown pants and the Marvel shirt.” We once again shared a laugh. I told him how incredible he was and thanked him for everything. He took my Comic and signed it. He signed his name right over Chris Claremont’s. A necessary casualty, I suppose. I said goodbye, he returned the gesture and I went on with my business and he signed about another eighty autographs.
I intended on meeting Stan once more, but his health kept him away and he had to cancel his appearance at the 2016 Comic Con. I couldn’t be mad. He was an old man and could I really argue the fact that I wouldn’t meet him for a third time? Could I really be so greedy?
I knew this day was coming. The thought had even crossed my mind yesterday morning. I’ll always appreciate the small time I spent with this incredible man. I’m not sure this could ever do him justice. Are these words really just for me? And how can I end this? What’s the practical conclusion? Should I give it an Excelsior? ‘Nuff said? Maybe I’ll switch it up a bit.
No, why change things now? Excelsior, Stan Lee, you Incredible, Fantastic, Uncanny, Astonishing, Amazing man! And if you turn to ashes as those heroes you helped bring into this World, may you rise from them like the Phoenix.