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The multi-verse weeps today. A mind so full of wonder and ideas winked out. Stan Lee has died. No more cameos, no more surprise comic signings at tiny events. A lot of my heroes have died in recent years. Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Maya Angelou, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, the list seems endless. But this one, this one seems so much worse for me. It wasn't one role, one character, one moment. It was so many, so many characters that emboldened me and others to do good, be good, answer to an authority of morals not laws. To experience companionship. How many nights did I lay awake with a flashlight under the covers reading Thor? The Amazing Spiderman? Captain America? His characters faced choices and circumstances, that were macrocosms of our life. Captain America, rebelling against the Superhuman Registration Act. Professor X, unwilling to see the truth about his closest friend. Spiderman choosing to be selfish in a moment, and costing himself everything. These are big events, that when taken into the scope of a non-hero can be really relevant. Protesting in the streets opposing the treatment of migrants, choosing to remove yourself from a toxic friendship, thinking twice about acting out of spite.
Marvel took a progressive stance when the world was not ready for it, and we have come out better as a people for it's influence. No one wants to be H.Y.D.R.A. and sometimes, we need a reminder of that, in comic sans, with brightly colored pages. Sometimes we need to be reminded that Deadpool is pansexual, and Spiderman is bi, and they actually have a relationship sometimes. But most of what I will love Stan Lee for, is for the unmasking. For Spiderman being a kid, for Captain America being a wimp, for Ironman being an asshole, and Wolverine being... well... fucking Wolverine. You don't only see the hero, ever. You also see Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Logan. We all need a reminder, that circumstance is what makes heroes out of us, not costumes, not super powers, circumstance. Anyone can be a hero, and if the world needs you badly enough, you will be.
I don't know what the future looks like. I don't have a crystal ball, but a future without Stan Lee, especially now, in the midst of all this darkness feels devastating. My heart goes out to his daughter, and to all of us, his fans. Life will go on for us, but differently. There is no other way to put it. A beacon of creative light has gone dark today, thus proving that life is a finite resource. So go do what Stan would have wanted us to do, be creative, reach out, be an every day hero, help a stranger. Tip a little extra, embrace a little tighter, and remember that even though everything falls apart sometimes, we band together when it matters. It doesn't matter if you're an X-man or an Avenger, living with the Hulk inside us, or a skeleton of Adamantium. Serum or spider, made or born, today we are united in our grief for our friend, our leader, our creative master.
Also we should all probably check in on Kevin Smith today folks, I think he is probably hurting more than the rest of us.