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Stan Lee in KC at 2016 Planet Comicon, where he revealed a favorite unused superpower

Stan Lee, serious for once, talks presidential politics

Backstage Saturday at Planet Comicon, the superhero creator tells The Star that the bitterness of the presidential race may not be good for the land of Captain America. (Video by Rick Montgomery, The Star.)
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Backstage Saturday at Planet Comicon, the superhero creator tells The Star that the bitterness of the presidential race may not be good for the land of Captain America. (Video by Rick Montgomery, The Star.)

One of the questions an audience member asked comic book icon Stan Lee at Planet Comicon on Saturday was whether Lee thought history might liken him to William Shakespeare.

Pause.

“Yeah, he was good, too,” Lee replied.

That drew some of the loudest laughs in an hour of punchlines delivered by the 93-year-old co-creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, X-Men and others in the superhero sphere.

But is he kidding? Check Wikipedia. Lee’s biography is longer than Shakespeare’s.

A crowd of 3,000 admirers filled a ballroom outside the Planet Comicon expo floor at Bartle Hall to quiz Lee. Mayor Sly James read a proclamation extolling the Marvel Comics pioneer’s “achievement and dedication to the literary arts” and proclaiming Saturday to be Stan Lee Day in Kansas City.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James proclaimed Saturday, May 21, 2016, as Stan Lee Day as a question and answer session for fans began at Planet Comicon in Bartle Hall.

In greeting the crowd, the blunt Lee wasted no time: “This day is a fraud. … The schools will be open tomorrow.”

A minute later he acknowledged his error. No school on Sunday. “Don’t take notes because none of this is right,” he said.

Dozens lined up at a microphone, many dressed in the garb of superheroes he conceived with Marvel artists. They asked him to share his favorite storylines, favorite film cameo and characters. (The mayor revealed his favorite Lee character to be Thor.)

Time and again Lee resisted, saying, “I’m my biggest fan. … They’re all my favorites,” although he allowed that Spider-Man appeared to be the world’s favorite.

His inspiration for Spider-Man? “Greed. I wanted to keep my job.”

His favorite superpower was one Lee has never incorporated into a character.

“The greatest power would be luck,” he said. “If you were lucky all the time, nothing bad would happen to you.”

Jarod Nash, a forklift operator in Centerville, Kan., arrived in a Spider-Man uniform that conveyed a poignant belief held by many of Lee’s fans.

“Everybody can be a superhero, even the most regular people,” he said. “It’s about having the courage to do what needs to be done without thinking.”

Nash even gave Lee some of the credit for the time a decade ago when Nash helped save two friends from drowning.

Before Lee addressed the crowd, he and James spoke at length backstage about a variety of things, including the city’s new streetcars. (“I’ve never seen new streetcars. That’s wonderful,” Lee said.) When the topic turned to their years in the military, Lee sang a ditty he had written satirizing the work of uniformed clerks handling Army finances.

“Off we go into our office yonder. At our desks morning ‘til night…” he crooned to a chuckling mayor.

“I wrote it as a gag!” Lee said. “They took it to heart to make it the official song of the finance department.”

James: “If only they knew who you were going to be...”

Lee: “If I knew, I would’ve charged them for the song.”

Last week, Jon Niccum conducted a Q&A for The Star with Lee about his career.

Rick Montgomery: 816-234-4410, @rmontgomery_r

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