It’s not an exaggeration to say that Stan Lee is largely responsible for the modern superhero – and by extension, one of the architects of contemporary pop culture. It’s not like one Stanley Martin Lieber invented the concept of men in capes; DC’s all-star stable of do-gooders had been around for decades, and Joe Simon’s Hitler-punching war hero Captain America, a hit for Timely Comics (which would eventually morph into Marvel Comics), had thrilled WWII-era kids. But it was Lee – in close creative, if not always properly credited, collaboration with artists such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Gene Colan – that had the revolutionary idea of making them relatable, snippy, occasionally self-centered, neurotic, flawed. Lots of folks told stories of superhumans fighting bad guys that played up the “super” part. Lee was the one who put the “human” part up front.
To honor Lee after his passing at age 95, we look back at 15 comics that helped solidify his legacy as a writer, editor, publisher and the ever-lovin’ public face/personal voice behind Marvel’s evolution from comic-book company into pop juggernaut. From that groundbreaking first Fantastic Four issue to Lee’s mean, green late-act addition to the female superhero canon, these were the issues that helped put Marvel and Stan the Man on the map. Excelsior!