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The spirit of heroism

This week, fans of comics and movies bid farewell to Stan Lee, the founder, editor –in-chief and pioneering writer of Marvel Comics.

Lee had a hand in the origins of most of the company’s most popular character, such as Thor and the X-Men, which he co-created with Jack Kirby, and Marvel’s flagship character Spider-Man, which he brought to life with artist Steve Ditko, who died earlier this year.

While exactly just who created what has long been debated and will continue to be discussed, Lee’s real talent was being the face of the company, offering an upbeat and positive presence in media.

He made his company successful by creating a community of its readers and essentially  invented modern fandom.

In the days since his death, a 1968 column of Lee’s, written during the civil rights era and published on the Stan’s Soapbox of Marvel’s books has recirculated.

In light of the horrors of the violence surrounding the Charlottesville march of white supremacists last year (for which he republished the piece in the aftermath), as well as the resurgence of such hate movements in recent years, his words are still timely.

“Let’s lay it right on the line,” Lee told his young readers in his in imitable style. “Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun.”

Lee said the only way to destroy such bigotry was to expose it.

“Reveal them for the insidious evils they really are,” he said, describing the bigot as one who hates unreasonably.

“Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance,” he told readers in his conclusion. “For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God — a God who calls us ALL —  His children.”

Lee leaves behind a massive legacy in his work and he will continue to inspire for generations.