My 6 Favorite Comic Characters Created by Stan Lee
Stan “The Man” Lee passed away this week at the age of 95. He had a good, long life, full of imagination and storytelling, two things I hold very near and dear. Not only was he instrumental in revolutionizing the comic book industry — which dominates my life, hopes and dreams — but he’s been enjoying a delightfully fun resurgence in pop culture over the past two decades with his movie cameos.
Stan Lee is a legend. And the best way I can honor him is by geeking out over some of my favorite comic book characters!
I never had the pleasure of meeting Stan Lee. I think the most I ever managed was seeing him board an escalator at New York Comic-Con once. That’s good enough for me. I’ve never been one for hero worship, especially with famous people and celebrities. But there’s no denying that Stan Lee created a fictional world that means everything to me, and has inspired me to dedicate my own life to creating awesome fictional worlds. Gotta give the guy props for that.
So join me after the jump for my favorite Stan Lee creations in comics! And please feel free to share your own in the comments!
Honorable Mention: Stripperella
OK, so Stripperella isn’t a comic book character, and honestly I don’t care about her at all. I just wanted to start off on a silly note and remind everybody that she exists, and her one real claim to fame was that she was “created” by Stan Lee (barring one lawsuit’s claim that her original idea came from an actual stripper and Stan Lee stole it). There was a period of time in the early 2000s when greedy corporations would use Stan Lee’s name to sell anything, and in hindsight, I find all of that hilarious. Like Stripperella, which sought to give Pamela Anderson some post-Baywatch work, and somehow roped in Stan Lee. Or remember the time when the company Stan Lee Media, long since abandoned by Stan Lee himself, tried to sue Marvel for the rights to all of their Stan-created characters? That’s probably my favorite Stan Lee-related story from real life. Such insanity!
Anyway, on with the real list. Stripperella, jeez louise…
6. Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
I think Magneto is the greatest comic book super-villain of all time. Doctor Doom is really good, and also a Stan Lee creation, but Magneto is just a deeper, more fascinating character. The way Magneto’s villainy draws on real world conflicts like the Holocaust, making him sympathetic even as he does evil things, is perfect. And his frenemy rivalry with Professor X has brought so much fun character stuff over the years. And I especially enjoy the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and characters like Blob and Toad, also created by Stan Lee. I love that the Brotherhood are just as much mutants as the X-Men, that they’re all equal in those terms, but some mutants chose to follow Magneto and some chose to follow Professor X. I love that dichotomy.
What’s not to love about Stilt-Man? Stan was thinking big when he came up with this Daredevil villain, pushing Stan’s love of wacky mechanical super-villains to new heights! Pun absolutely intended! I love the silliness of Stilt-Man, and how that silliness has led to a pretty memorable career in super-villainy. He just keeps popping up, over and over! It’s only a shame he never made a proper appearance on the Daredevil TV show. Now that would have been a great legacy! I mean, having a successful Daredevil TV show is good too, but c’mon! Stilt-Man on TV!
Of the mainstream X-Men, Iceman has always been my favorite. He’s young, he’s a jokester and his powers are really cool. Pun absolutely intended! Stan really swung for the fences in creating the original X-Men. Such an eclectic group of kids with weird powers, and each with their own unique voice. Cyclops alone is genius. Of all the super-powers in the world, you give the leader of the team simple eye blasts? And then you name him ‘Cyclops’ of all things? How cool is that name? But Iceman was my favorite and I’m so pleased to see his resurgence in recent years.
I do love me some Spider-Man. He’s probably my favorite of the famous superheroes. Stan revolutionized comic book superheroes with the creation of Spider-Man. As Roger Ebert once said, to paraphrase, there are no two more boring characters than Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. Peter Parker had nuance coming out the wazoo, thanks to Stan. Smarter and better men than I have waxed poetical about Spidey, but for me, he’s just a really fun, really enjoyable character. The web-slinging to get around is just so much cooler than flying. Spidey is the hero inside all of us, just waiting for a radioactive spider bite to bring it out.
And Stan is also largely responsible for my favorite Rogues Gallery in all of comics. Guys like Doctor Octopus are great, but Stan also created the Scorpion, the Shocker, the Prowler, Beetle, Boomerang and more of my favorite street-level baddies!
2. Silver Surfer and Galactus
Despite having never really read the original Stan Lee issues of The Fantastic Four that introduced Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, I am enthralled by these characters. The Silver Surfer was my original favorite comic character, back when I was a kid. He looks so cool, and his story was so enigmatic. Stan Lee created the soulful character and explored philosophy, making him a noble warrior with such a wild design. And Galactus is just plain genius. Not an evil villain attempting to take over the world, but a cosmic being just doing his cosmic duty. And his arrival in those early FF issues was a momentous event in comic books, if I recall correctly. It was just such a huge thing, and Galactus and the Silver Surfer remain among the greatest ideas in all of comics!
1. The Mimic
I love who I love. The Mimic has probably barely been a blip in Stan’s eye since putting him in a few X-Men stories back in the day, but those X-Men stories were the battered old comics my father left lying around the house for me to read. I can’t even say what it is about the character that I glommed onto. Was it the cool orange costume? Was it the arrogance, a pretty unique character trait at the time? Was it the coolness of having him copy all of the original X-Men powers? Honestly, I think it was the fact that this villain decided to switch sides and join the X-Men, becoming the first ever new member to the team; the sixth X-Man, as it were. And villains becoming heroes, and the “sixth member” of a team are two of my all-time favorite storytelling tropes, probably thanks to the Mimic and Stan Lee. Every minor character in comics has some fans. Mimic is mine, created by good old Stan Lee!
Rest in Peace, Stan Lee! Excelsior!