Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man #1, Marvel, 2006
From Lit Hub:
When I think of truly magical moments from my childhood, I think of my mother introducing me to comic books when I was about five. Just dropped Archie, Batman and Superman off on my bed and left me to disappear into adventure. Later, I stopped reading Archie and DC Comics and gravitated to the Marvel Universe shaped in large part by the imagination of Stan Lee. Spider-Man could stick to walls and lift trains, but neither his webbing nor his super-strength were a match for his insecurity. Bruce Banner may have been a genius scientist, but his brilliance and ambition turned him into a monstrosity and there was nothing to be done about that. Just got to live with it, I guess, and manage it somehow. Who doesn’t feel like someone special with a wound? Stan Lee’s creations were me and I spent a significant amount of my youth in and out of the comics shop arguing about who was the greatest X-Man (it’s Wolverine).
When I came to create, I invented the town of Cross River, MD, a world, a universe where characters from discreet stories could interact across adventures. It mimics the way I think, I often say, and it does, but that way of thinking derives from the Marvel way designed partly in Stan Lee’s mind. I give credit to Sherwood Anderson and Gloria Naylor and them for my world—and they do deserve credit—but before I discovered their work I was reading about Spider-Man showing up in Morbius’s life and Morbius causing havoc in Ghost Rider’s book.
Well, the moment I feared since beginning this letter exchange came and the storyteller is gone from the world. He was an elderly man and that’s what elderly men tend to do. My wife warned me that one day soon I’d have to explain away the hero’s death. My son, the Spider-Man aficionado, Shuri fan and friend to Stan Lee, spent the past two years trading letters with his, and my, hero—each ending with Excelsior! He’d excitedly rip open the manila Stan Lee envelope whenever it came in the mail, on his birthday or just because. It was only fair for Stan Lee to offer a goodbye.
I sat and again filled my head with that gravelly but melodious voice. What’s the lasting thing Stan Lee would want my boy to remember?