Stan Lee was 95, but he had his hand in so many upcoming projects, I thought he'd live another 20 years!
I have to admit, for a long time I was resistant to Stan Lee's work and Marvel in general, just because he has always been so absurdly ridiculously praised in such an overblown way. The bombastic hucksterish alliteration and self-promotion definitely was an acquired taste for me
But hey, he earned the praise. Even if you take away the credit he stole from Ditko and Kirby, he still did an enormous amount in the creation of Marvel, and in maintaining its continuity. Lee was the guiding force. And the thing is still leading the industry, based on what Stan Lee solidly built 50 years ago.
Much of my favorite Stan Lee stuff are the pre-Marvel monster stories from 1958-1963 in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, STRANGE TALES, TALES OF SUSPENSE and TALES TO ASTONISH and shorter runs like AMAZING FANTASY and WORLD OF FANTASY. Warmly told stories about regular people put in wild situations, with wonderful twist endings, humor, and commentary on the human condition, that transferred over into the superhero runs in Marvel's series that took over those anthology books. When you consider the limited distribution box that Marvel was in, where they could only publish 9 or 10 titles a month, it's even more imressive the way Stan Lee built the Marvel empire in those first 10 years.
Some of my favorite stories scripted by Stan Lee beyond the monster stories are "This Man, This Monster" in FF 51, a re-telling of Thor's origin in THOR 159, introduction of the Kree and the Sentry in FF 64-65 (with Ronan the Accuser in cold scientific terms describing the 20th century human condition).
And SILVER SURFER: PARABLE that Stan Lee wrote in collaboration with Moebius.
I'm hard pressed to say whether the FF, Spider-man, Thor, Doctor Strange, X-men, the Hulk, Avengers, or the Silver Surfer were Lee's signature character. And that's not even including the other titles Lee was scripting, like SGT FURY, DAREDEVIL, Sub-Mariner, Nick Fury Agent of Shield, Ant-man/Giant-man, and the Inhumans! There's a lot of creators who struggle to produce one title a month! Or even struggle to create one memorable series in their entire career.
I'd go with either Spider-man or Silver Surfer as Lee's signature character.
So yeah, credit where it is due. Stan Lee created an enormous pantheon of characters, and built an empire. More than that, Lee created characters that others could continue after his departure, and would remain popular even in new hands. (Compare with JON SABLE and AMERICAN FLAGG at First Comics, where the characters lost all appeal in hands other than those that created them. ) There's a business sense to Marvel's creation, beyond the concept and storytelling.
Lee also got to live long enough to see his comics empire become a movie empire. And his cameos in so many movies might be seen as his last enduring words.