Excelsior! – Vidjagame Apocalypse 290

This week saw the passing of a true legend: the comics-creating, cameo-crushing alliteration aficionado known as Stan Lee. Marvel superfan Chris Baker rejoins us to celebrate Stan’s legacy with a look at his greatest videogame cameos, after which we’ll get into Hitman 2, the Detective Pikachu trailer, The Game Awards nominees, and the game characters you’d elect to office.

Question of the Week:
Who’s your favorite Stan Lee-created (or co-created) character, and why?

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Theme song by Matthew Joseph Payne. Break song is The Merry Marching Marvel Society by Jack Urbont.

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9 thoughts on “Excelsior! – Vidjagame Apocalypse 290

  1. QotW: RIP Stan Lee. Favorite Stan Lee character is Spiderman. He is one of the longest characters I followed in comics before I stopped reading regularly (going from around the Clone Saga til around Superior). He was one of the few characters that both me and my parents liked so they watched the 90s show with me with less complaints than most kids shows.

    1. Qotw: second the spidey selection. Truthfully never read the comics but loved the 90s Fox cartoon. Spidey is my favorite because he has some parallels to my other favorite hero, Batman. Both lost an important figure in their life, both are geniuses in their own right…and both have had great movies and cartoons!

  2. QotW: I’m really torn between the X-Men and Spider-Man. As a kid collecting comics in the late ’80s and early ’90s and of course watching what seemed like great cartoon shows of each, these were the two that I collected the most (primarily X-Men over Uncanny X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man over Spectacular Spider-Man, but those were mostly just circumstantial choices rather than anything intentional). My very first comic book was a very early ’80s Spider-Man about an African-American high school track star. I have no idea what happened in it at all and my dog literally ate it. Then in one of my very first flea market batch buys, I got one where Spider-Man and Hawkeye teamed up to fight an out-of-control Hulk. I must have read that particular comic 20 times, trying my best to immitate the drawing. I think Spider-Man, particularly pre 1990s, really spoke to kids because Spider-Man was a kid. He was a teenager, constantly being bullied and made fun of by Flash Thompson, perpetually unable to attract Gwen Stacy, having to keep secrets from his grandmother, etc. And he was a nerd, like so many of us. I think that’s really the great secret of Stan Lee’s characters, that they were always underdogs. Outcasts from society, discriminated against, and forever choosing to do the right thing and sacrifice in spite of it. That’s ultimately what sets Stan Lee apart from other comic creators.

  3. Cool episode guys! Not sure why you think you can’t buy 360 games on the Xbox One’s storefront. Every backwards compatible game has a page in the console store if you search for it.

  4. QOTW: My favorite Stan Lee co-creation has to be the Silver Surfer. It was the first comic I started to buy every month and started me a lifelong road as a comics fan. Unlike most heroes, Norrin Radd was unapologetically spiritual and reflective (ha!). I still remember the saga of the Cosmic Messiah where the Messiah wanted to purge sin and pain from the world by removing our humanity and we’d become living energy in an eternal sea. At the climax, the Messiah is told that our flaws and overcoming them is what makes us human and “If we were meant to be angels, we would have been born with wings!” As a “too smart for their own good” kid going to a heavily evangelical church twice a week (while subconsciously repressing her queerness), this was revolutionary.
    When he got talk about the Surfer, Stan would gush and talk about how this random minor character Jack Kirby had drawn had struck Stan and they’d developed him into what the Surfer became. Thanks, Stan. Excelsior.

  5. This is the basic answer, but it’s Spider-Man. Peter Parker is just fun and relateable, and his adventures are wonderful.

    Also, on your discussion of people named Bruce. My son is named Bruce after such luminaries as Bruce Wayne, Banner, Willis, Campbell, and Lee. It’s a great name.

  6. I hate to be a wet blanket but I’m adding a “co-” to every “created by” on this episode, because while I did grow up loving Stan and his soapbox’s of the 90’s and his “face-front True Believers” presentation, I think it gets lost way too easily that he was in a position closer to Walt Disney than what we’d call “creative.” I don’t think that minimizes what he did: obviously he was a huge part of marketing, editing, and otherwise getting his product noticed at a time when Marvel was only allowed limited shelf-space, and did a great job of being an ambassador of comics to the outside world for the next 40 years. But the popular consensus this week has been that he basically had the idea to create all the heroes from the movies people enjoy, an idea Stan encouraged even though it wasn’t really true.

    For instance, Stan admitted in a letter to a fan in 1963 that Steve Ditko had the idea for and designed Dr. Strange; he never went as far on record for his other creations, but it’s pretty clear when you look at Kirby and Ditko’s other characters at other companies that they were pitching about 75% of a finished product (Kirby: royal family of aliens with advanced technology? Ditko: selfish jerk who has a dynamic way to get around, makes weird hand-gestures?) and that Stan was important in editing and reigning back some of their anti-commercial tendencies, but told stories about how he had flashes of inspiration while looking at a spider in his office, then would apparently ask people in the bullpen “why does Kirby hate me?” and have to have it explained to him, and then go and tell the same story to Newsweek or whoever.

    Again, I love Stan, and his cameos in videogames are great, it’s just my bugbear when people say “created by Stan Lee” because they almost never say “and Steve Ditko” or “and Jack Kirby,” when those guys are the ones actually designing and drawing the thing people are looking at.

    To answer the question of the week though, as much as I’d like to pick somebody obscure, it’s Spider-Man. Stan wrote the Archie-Comics style Gwen/MJ/Peter love triangle stuff really well, and Peter is just such a great character as somebody who starts out as a “I’ll show them!” loner nerd, but becomes a relatively well-adjusted adult through love and loss over the course of the first 150 or so issues of that comic.

  7. QotW: An odd one for me, and a bit tangential, but my favourite character is probably Daredevil, because the style of writing and origin was the inspiration for the origin for my actual favourite characters, Eastman and Lairds Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Even down to giving the goo that gave him super senses be the goo which mutated the turtles.

    A slightly less swanky answer is Dr.Strange, because I love the idea of comic creators tripping balls and trying to get these very specifically counter culture elements like chakras, astral projection and other overly earnest new age wizardry into the stories they’re telling.

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