This past October at the Wizard World Comic Convention in Nashville, TN, I had one of the singular greatest experiences of my life. I met comic book legend Stan Lee. Stan Lee is behind the creation of nearly all of the major characters from Marvel Comics. He created heroes like: Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange, the Silver Surfer, Black Panther, Ant-man, Wasp, the Avengers, and S.H.I.E.L.D.;and villains: Dr. Doom, Magneto, Galactus, the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Juggernaut, Mephisto, Kingpin, and Loki. He is comic book royalty. This was my fanboy dream come true. But on a personal level, this meant so much more.
I was introduced to comics when I was 6 years old. It was at this age that I read my very first comic book Batman #427. That particular issue is the second in a story arc entitled “A Death in the Family”. This comic changed my perception of comic books and super heroes forever, but that’s a story for another day. The point is, from the first time I picked up a comic book, I’ve been hooked. I fell in love with the fantastic characters I had the privilege to read about. But none captured my interest like those created by Stan Lee, particularly Spider-Man and the X-Men. These characters had so much depth, so much humanity, even in spite of their incredible abilities. Spider-Man for instance, despite having super human strength, the power to climb walls, and with help from his homemade web-slingers, shoot web, was the most human superhero I’d ever seen.
And it was in the pages of Spider-Man that I learned some of life’s greatest lessons. Watching Peter Parker deal with the loss of his beloved Uncle Ben, helped me grieve the loss of my great grandparents. I was able to watch him grow from a shy, awkward teen who didn’t know how to talk to members of the opposite sex, into an at least slightly more confident young adult. Doing so, helped me with my formative years in high school and how I interacted with girls (OK, maybe that one didn’t work out so well…but that’s more on me, than Stan).
Most importantly, it was from these stories that I learned the meaning of responsibility. With the foundation of “With great power, comes great responsibility”, the entire mythos of Spider-Man is a metaphor for being responsible with the gifts you’ve been given. My views on money, possessions, and talents have been molded by this concept. This is not me bragging, but I consider myself a very generous person…and I think most people that really know me would attest to that fact. If I could do it, I would give someone the shirt off my back if I thought it would help them. God has blessed me more than I can comprehend, and because of this, I feel the need to bless others. And while now I see this as a part of my calling as a Christian, long before that the seed was planted in my very core by a wall-crawling, web-slinging superhero. So anyone I’ve ever had the honor of blessing in some way, owes a lot of that to Stan Lee.
Finally meeting the man that helped form me into the person I am today was an experience I will never forget. And while I was able to have my picture taken with Stan, get his autograph, and even ask him a question during his panel, I wish I had had the opportunity to truly thank him for what he’s done for me: making me a better person. So with that said, “From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Stan.”