Saying goodbye to a legend is no easy task

November 16, 2018


When I was growing up, Wonder Woman and her DC Comics Justice League friends were my favorite superheroes. I didn’t really know much about any of the Marvel Comics heroes, like Spider-Man or the X-Men.

But I was a Saturday morning cartoon junkie and I soon became enamored with the heroics of three college students who doubled as superheroes. Peter Parker, Angelica Jones and Bobby Drake were Spider-Man, Firestar and Iceman, aka “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends,” which aired on NBC.

Years later, after I fell in love with “X-Men” comics, I realized that an episode of “Spider-Man” was actually my very first introduction to the X-Men. And this week, I realized that the same episode was my first introduction to Stan Lee.

Lee passed away Monday at the age of 95. He was the creator or co-creator of many of Marvel’s iconic characters — Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk and the X-Men, to name a few. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has dominated the box office in recent years, would not be possible without Lee.

But I can’t think of Lee without going back to that one “Spider-Man”

episode, “The X-Men Adventure.” In the half-hour, Spider-Man accompanies Firestar and Iceman on a visit to the X-Mansion to visit their former team, the X-Men. While the trio is there, a mysterious villain, with a personal connection to Firestar, takes over the mansion and the Spider Friends and the X-Men must work together to navigate the mansion’s defenses to stop a meltdown that will destroy the entire place. Narrating the action is Lee himself, taking us into each act break with a dramatic set-up like he’s a voice on an old-time radio serial.

When I first saw the episode in 1983, I didn’t know that voice belonged to the person responsible for the characters on the screen. But when I watched it again Monday night, I was able to acknowledge the voice for who it truly belongs to — a legend and an icon.

I had planned another topic for this week’s column, but when Lee died, I felt I needed to say something. Like so many others, Lee touched my life with his creations, opening up new worlds of imagination and possibilities for me. However, when it came time to write the column, I couldn’t figure out what to say. After all, how do you sum up the life of a man who lived 95 years and left us a legacy of characters that have entertained millions for decades and will continue to do so for decades to come?

Since I couldn’t find the words, I found some of his that I thought were appropriate. In 2014, Lee told the Chicago Tribune, “I suppose I have come to realize that entertainment is not easily dismissed. Without it, lives can be dull. Anything that entertains, that takes people away from their own problems, is good.”

Thank you, Mr. Lee, for keeping our lives from being dull. Excelsior!

You can purchase episodes of “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” from iTunes and Amazon Prime Video.

Angela Henderson-Bentley writes about television for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact her at ahenderson-bentley@hotmail.com.

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