Saturday, September 29, 2007

Recommending the Imaginative: Stan Lee

I can hear the scoff in your throats all the way across the Internet. "Are you kidding me? A comic book writer?" I understand your cynicism, but hear me out. Stan Lee has done something in the creative world that should not go unnoticed. His revolutionary work with Marvel Comics opened up not only a whole new world for comics, but for the development of super heroes in modern pop-culture.

When Lee first began work on comics the market was controlled by the idea that superheroes should be flawless and indestructible. What Stan Lee did wad to re-design the modern superhero as a flawed man struggling not only with everyday problems but also battling internally between the two worlds of superhero and alter-ego. His first character, Spiderman, is the epitome of this new design.

His comics would also include relevant social commentaries and critiques and examine a deeper, more meaningful side to the world of Comic books. These are just some of the facts that no real culturally aware person can overlook.

This may seem like an odd person to include in with the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, after all not only were both amazing literary scholars and authors, but they were both Christians. What should you think of my recommending someone who is not a self-proclaimed believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? How can he help us understand creativity and the imagination better from a Christian perspective?

The fact is that God did not give culture only to Christians, nor did He give wisdom and creativity to Christians (just like He did not give the gifts of science and math and medicine to Christians alone). Certainly worship of God is the ultimate goal of the imagination and creativity and thankfulness to Him is due for it, and no creative work will ultimately be completed until such is done. But Stan Lee has offered to us not only a new form of art and a captivating method of storytelling through images and simple dialogue, but he has offered to us an imaginative re-interpretation of the superhero. In this re-interpretation we see the natural human struggle between our tendency to self-absorption and justice. We see an innovative way to express the pressure and importance of helping others. These are values, of course, which no Christian can ignore, and while we would go further than Lee, we can, nonetheless, thank him for reminding us that heroes can be relatable and "cool."

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