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Stan Lee was a Bronx boy

Bronx’s own Stan Lee, comic-book writing legend, 95

Stan Lee’s Dewitt Clinton class photo.
Bronx Times
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Perhaps Marvel’s greatest hero of all has somberly left our universe.

Stan Lee, who spent his adolescent years in the Bronx and was the mind responsible for Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, revival of Captain America and many, many more heroes passed away at 95 on Monday, November 12.

Before finding his own alter ego, Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber into a Romanian-Jewish family on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Thursday, December 22, 1922.

Stan along with the rest of his family, including his brother Larry Lieber whom would also collaborate in the creation of many Marvel greats would later call the Bronx home for some years.

Moving to 1720 University Avenue, Lee had previously described his Bronx home as “a third-floor apartment facing out back.”

He, along with many other famed characters of the time studied at Dewitt Clinton High School before entering the military for World War II.

Throughout his illustrious 95 years Lee constantly boasted his alma mater.

Days before his passing, Lee even posted a high school class photo to his own Twitter account.

It was just after graduating Clinton when Lee first coined his pen name. Fearing that writing comics would tarnish his reputation in hopes of writing the ‘Great American Novel,’ he decided to split his first name Stanley into Stan Lee on paper.

After Lee would go on to leave a legacy of greatness, bringing the most vivid and dynamic of superheroes to life with his own partner in crime (or technically justice) Jack Kirby, he also inspired many in his old borough.

Mario Simone, creator of the ‘Heroes Haven’ comic book series and native Pelham Bayite took deep inspiration from Lee for his own creations.

He knew Lee to an extent, describing their connection as “being in the same circles as each other.”

The two had also met at times, most notably during San Diego’s famed Comic Con.

“What I loved about Lee was that he gave his superheroes flawed characteri­stics,” Simone said. The comic creator went on to explain his love of watching Lee’s characters overcome their own mortal flaws almost more than overcoming whichever super villain they were juxtaposed against.

“He made them human, and that’s something I was inspired to do in my own works,” Simone added.

Being that Simone particularly loves when a hero overcomes arrogance, it’s no surprise that one of his favorite characters created by Lee is The Mighty Thor.

Simone also marveled over Lee’s concept of ‘having the bad guys win’ too.

That narrative was most famously displayed last May when Thanos infamously snapped his fingers in ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’

By the way, some of that battle takes place over the Bronx in the comic book version.

Although, that was about it for the Bronx being mentioned in the Marvel Universe.

Being that Spider-Man hails from Queens and once rescued distressed passengers on the Staten Island Ferry; Captain America coming from Brooklyn; The Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, and Daredevil all from Manhattan; even the Avengers’ new facility is in the Lower Hudson Valley not far from Professor Xavier and the X-Men in Westchester; the question remains, why is the Bronx only referenced obscurely in Marvel comics?

Another Pelham Bay comic book creator, Rajive Anand has his own theory. “At the time of the 60s and 70s that Lee, Kirby, and Marvel were writing these comics, it was not a good time for the Bronx,” Ananad said.

There was another reference to the Bronx in an animated Spider-Man cartoon during the 1990s, though.

When Doctor Strange warns Spider-Man that the odds of the two returning from a mission alive would be astronomical, the web-slinger replied, “Big deal, I’ve been through the Bronx.”

That same, satirical Spider-Man also served as inspiration for Anand to create ‘New York’s Brightest’ and first Indian-American superhero, Laserman.

“Spider-Man’s eyes are shaped like almonds, something that’s a very common motif in Indian art,” Anand explained while mentioning that he drew a nod to an iconic Spider-Man illustration in his own comics.

When Anand isn’t writing his semi-autobiographical novel, he’s teaching a sequential art class at Lehman High School.

At the time that Anand found out of his passing, he gave a lesson on Stan Lee and all of his impact.

Anand’s ‘Laserman’ is sold along with many Stan Lee originals at another Pelham Bay comic haven, Collector Cave on 3027 Middletown Road.

When co-owner Anthony Bonano heard the news on Lee, he ordered that all original Marvel comics artwork be sold at discount.

Technically, not all of the Marvel originals he has in store are for sale.

Four legendary Stan Lee originals of The Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, one signed by Lee with the infamous Galactus on its cover, and The Silver Surfer are currently off limits.

With that said, Bonano speculates that his original copy of The Silver Surfer is worth upwards of $500.

“Now’s not the time,” he said after mentioning the number of calls his store received asking about Stan Lee originals after the sad news broke.

While many around the Bronx and the world are mourning the death of Stan Lee, the Bronx Times Reporter says thank you to one of the borough’s best for everything he had given us.

We hope the Avengers can bring you back, too.

Updated 2:47 pm, November 27, 2018
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