Quid Novi? | Goodbye, Stan Lee (1922-2018)

Earlier this week, Marvel Comics’ icon and movie cameo star Stan Lee passed away at the venerable age of 95. As a boy, I grew up on the publications that he and others at the Marvel bullpen had created. Yes, he wrote about superheroes, with or without powers, but deeply human, flawed, and believable ones, and he created universes one could discover in the magic of ink on paper. I would eagerly catch these worlds, ripe for discovery each month from the magazine racks of the local convenience store.

That was a time when comics books were “still only 45¢!” and filled with enough stories to tide me over till next month, stories of wonder, no, stories of marvel, pun intended because I own my puns, stories that showed what it’s like to be human in a vast universe of the strange and superhuman. Stories that taught us things about ourselves, stories with real lessons. Through it all, Marvel has always had a humanistic bent, that humans, ordinary humans, were somehow special, unique, a force for both good and evil that could shake the cosmos even without super powers or fancy hardware. Even when rubbing shoulders with aliens, mutants, cyborgs, and among many others, even the gods themselves.

So it’s here I’d like to posthumously thank Stan for inspiring us with heroes we could relate to, heroes we could for the space of a few pages of text and image, believe and delight in, share their adventures in their delightfully flawed, limited, sometimes broken but deeply entertaining humanity, even in those with sometimes mutated DNA, extra-dimensional origin, or advanced technology.

Stan, your work has inspired, and I think will continue to inspire, those of us who carry on.

Peace out.

I’ll close this post with a tweet I found:

Friga’s Day Flash Fiction: Zen, trod he!

Gr’ozz had just suffered an embarrassing trouncing at the hands of the super-terrorist Metatronicus, grabbed like a child’s toy and smashed through the lower deck flooring and hull of an old Soviet submarine remade into a base of operations.

Gr’ozz was even in his own estimation smart as a rock, but his occasional moments of zen were unmatched in the supernormal community. He cared not. The Dunning-Kruger effect was not part of his mental makeup. Still smart enough to know his intellectual limits, modest enough not to resent them.

This time, as with the other fights he’d been in, a tiny glimmering of brilliance impinged on his awareness, and he ran with it. Another moment of zen. He smiled, as he suddenly noted that he was in the icy deeps — his smile was not a friendly one.

He suddenly hit upon the fact that while Metatronicus was stronger than he, he was still only human…he must breathe air, unlike Gr’ozz’s species, the Dragons. Gr’ozz swam leisurely back to the submarine, his flattened tail swaying from side to side while the ideas took root in his normally almost vegetative mind, taking shape and driving his next actions like a reflex.

Gr’ozz swam so as to minimize his sonar signature, not that they were likely to be listening in anyway, going to the area of the hull just below where Metatronicus last stood. He stopped suddenly, took a listen. Yes, footsteps, the pattern matching his foe’s stride.

Gr’ozz waited, and suddenly thrust his hand through the hull, ripping it open again at full strength, and hoping his estimation was correct. He grabbed what felt like his foe’s ankle. Pulling downward through the hole he’d made in the deck, he heard the sound of tearing metal as the hole he’d made was opened wider still by Metatronicus’s body being pulled through it and into the ocean.

Not one to gloat — he didn’t know what that was yet — he saw his enemy’s face as the otherwise empowered human began to inhale water, and suffer from the crushing pressure at this depth. Supernormal powers would be of no use here.

Metatronicus tried to gasp for air, and Gr’ozz began pounding his fist, a mace of sculpted bone, into his foe’s face at his leisure, and satisfied with rendering him unconscious, swam to shore with his now helpless captive. His teammates would certainly appreciate having someone to question, and another human who would harm his own species to lock up for good. Life is suffering, but so for bad guys as well.