Stan Lee

Stan and I at Madison Comic-Con in 2017.

November 12th, 2018

With great power comes great responsibility.

I’m feeling a lot of feelings right now. Some of them okay, some of them fine and some of them the downright worst. It may sound absurd and naive, but I came to the internet to find solace. To find intimate words and feelings and thoughts that reflected how I’m feeling and thinking but maybe better. Instead, I found an impersonal wave of nothingness, a flood of links to cold facts that do an absolute disservice to Stan Lee and who he was and what he meant to people. What he meant to me. And that particular feeling is anger, and it’s an ugly one, but at least it’s a real, honest feeling, and not a bullshit headline that reads “Old Man Dead at 95.” Because Stan Lee wasn’t an old man. I’ve learned — through the wisdom of my friends like Dawn — what old means. Old is when you decide that you know everything, that there is nothing new in the world that you can possibly learn or change for the better you can make. You can be twenty-three and old as hell, or seventy-eight and young as spring.

My friends are not old, and he may not have known it, but Stan Lee was one of my best friends. He and his friends had been there for me in times that no one else was. You can tell me that Spider-Man is fake and fantasy, but the only thing about him that didn’t match up with what real people are like is that he was ALWAYS there for me, anytime I needed him. In that, he was better than real, and he and his kind gave people like me something to look up to, when real people too often let me down.

Stan’s enthusiasm is something I emulate without even consciously trying. My love and passion for stories and books and TV and film and pop culture are seeds from his immortal and forever youthful soul. I get too excited for normal people, but in Stan’s world I’m not too hot or too cold — I’m just right.

I met Stan last year. It was one of the most special and surreal days of my life. It was shortly before I quit drinking for good, and I remember, with the exception of a few beers throughout the day, just really being sober and in that magical moment. He made me want to be better, as did every character he ever helped create. I’ll probably never swing from building to building, but taking time out to cheer up a kid I can do, and it’s just one of a million little lessons Spidey and Stan instilled in me.

To be an Avenger is not to save the world from killer robots or an alien invasion; it’s about avenging yourself, and all the wrong choices you’ve ever made. In that sense, we can all be Avengers.

He was a forerunner of the American — and humanist — ideas of diversity and inclusion and unity. “Not to have diversity of different races and nationalities is ridiculous,” Lee told EW in June 2015. “Because the world is diverse. The more we can include everybody, the better it is.” An astounding lesson of compassion and love and humanity.

He was political without being political. He just believed in the right thing. And his passing — I’m sobbing at that word — leaves a vaccum. Of justice. Of morality. Of positivity. But worst of all, it leaves a vacuum in my heart. In my nature and in my being. And it feels like a vaccum, like nothingness being pulled out of my insides. This isn’t tragic or unexpected but like I said, he was one of my best friends and his leaving hurts just the same.
So, no link to some bullshit news post about some old man dying. Just a link to all the feelings that I’m feeling, something Stan taught me was okay. Was more than okay — was essential to being a human. Was powerful.

And with even a little power, comes great responsibility.


Published by dennisvogen

I'm me, of course. Or am I?

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