Excelsior! A tribute to Stan Lee

“You know, my motto is ‘Excelsior.’ That’s an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory.’ … Keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time. Nothing lasts forever.”

– Stan Lee

Stan Lee
Stan Lee at the Phoenix Comicon in Phoenix, Arizona, 2011. Image by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0

It was with great sadness that I read that comic-book legend Stan Lee passed away on Monday 12 November, at the age of 95. As a huge Marvel fan, I grew up with a (not so mild) obsession with the X-Men, and Stan Lee’s passing came as a sad blow, despite his age. Stan inspired so many with his amazing sense of humour, and his relatable creations that pushed the boundaries and redefined pop-culture.

Born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922, Lee was a comic-book editor, publisher, and writer whose prolific career spanned more than seven decades. Starting his comics career in 1939, Lee’s big break came in 1950, when he was tasked with creating a new team of superheroes following DC comics revamping of the Flash. Enter Lee’s first creation – the Fantastic Four.

Photo of Stan Lee display at Tūranga
Stan Lee display at Tūranga

The Fantastic Four were followed by many more immensely popular superheroes, like the incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Spider-Man, Thor, and Black Panther. Lee’s characters and writing revolutionised superhero comics, which were previously aimed at children and preteens, by diversifying characters and content. Despite having amazing superpowers, Lee’s characters are also undeniably human, with human flaws and vulnerabilities.

If you’re looking for an entertaining read that gives some more insight into Stan Lee’s colourful life and career, I’d highly recommend flicking through Lee’s autobiography, Amazing Fantastic Incredible. Presented in graphic novel format, this book is as colourful as the author, and uses his trademark sense of humour to present key points in his life.

Stan Lee’s contribution to pop-culture and graphic novels can’t be understated. As mentioned in his autobiography, he “put the human in superhuman” and is one of the most legendary names in graphic novel history. He will be greatly missed, but will never cease to inspire others to create. His legacy lives on in his creations, and in the hearts of his fans.

Visit the online Stan Lee Memorial Wall, where fans across the globe can pay tribute to this beloved creator. #Excelsior

Christchurch City Libraries has a wide variety of works by Stan Lee and Marvel that make for amazing reads (and re-reads).

Stan Lee

List created by ReneeJ49

A tribute to late comic book legend, Stan Lee. Here we have a small selection of works and characters he either created or co-created, as well as their accompanying films (which he often cameos in).

Cover of Amazing, fantastic, incredibleAmazing Fantastic Incredible – One of Stan Lee’s autobiographies, this book is a fantastic (incredible) way of learning some more about this artist’s journey, from filling inkwells to becoming one of the most influential comic creators of our time. Amazing Fantastic Incredible

The Amazing Spider-Man – A list of Stan Lee creations is not complete without Spider-Man, who remains one of his most popular characters. Action-packed, relatable , and hilariously witty, Spider-Man is a definite must-read for Stan Lee fans.

Cover of Black Panther: The complete collectionBlack Panther – Stan Lee’s Black Panther is another example of Lee’s influence on comics, as T’Challa (the Black Panther) was the first superhero of colour to appear in mainstream comics. The comic’s popularity has continued with Black Panther’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War in 2016, and the 2018 Black Panther film.

Extraordinary X-Men – A particular favourite of mine, Stan Lee’s X-Men showcases the diversity and humanization that Lee brought to superheroes. The colourful, creative and humanly flawed mutants have since featured in various books, TV series, and films since 1963.

Cover of The mighty ThorThe Mighty Thor – Thor is one of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s non-human superheroes, inspired by the Norse god of thunder.

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Renée, Library Assistant
Tūranga

Infinity and the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Later this month The Avengers: Infinity War will hit cinema screens (25 April to be exact). Ten years ago Iron Man was the first episode in what has become an ongoing, multi-layered series know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU). Infinity War represents the coming together of many of these interwoven strands. Hints of what or who would be involved in Infinity War were being dropped as early as Iron Man 2 and Thor, but various powerful Infinity Stones, the Infinity Gauntlet (which can wield the power of these stones), and the character of Thanos (who very much intends to do the wielding) have featured throughout the series.

With such a long timeframe and so many films, it can be easy to lose track of these appearances, so some re-watching might be in order before the release of Infinity War. Or you could just crib from the list below.

Due warning – SPOILERS FOLLOW:

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010) – A drawing of a cube-like artefact is shown in one of Howard Stark’s old notebooks. This is the first appearance of an Infinity Stone, specifically the Tesseract.
  • Thor (2011) – A right-handed Infinity Gauntlet is shown in Odin’s trophy room. Post-credit scenes hint that Loki is up to no good with the Tesseract (also known as the Space Stone)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – The Tesseract’s earthbound history is revealed and its ability to be used as a weapon.
  • Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) – Loki really was up to no good with the Tesseract (aided and abetted by Giant Purple Bad Ass, Thanos). Both Loki and the Tesseract end up in Asgard for safe keeping. Loki’s Chitauri sceptre, which holds the Mind Stone is acquired by S.H.I.E.L.D.

  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013) – The Aether (or the Reality Stone) wreaks havoc with Astrophysicist Jane Foster and at the end of the film is transferred by Asgardian warriors Sif and Volstagg to the care of The Collector.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – The Mind Stone in Loki’s sceptre falls into Hydra’s hands and is used to create enhanced individuals Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – The Orb (that contains the Power Stone) is the thing that everyone, including Thanos, wants. Originally in the archives of The Collector, it ends up on the planet of Xandar in the care of Nova Corps. The Collector provides a brief explanation to the Guardians of what the Infinity Stones are.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Thor has a vision that includes several of the Infinity Stones and the Infinity Gauntlet. The Avengers capture Loki’s sceptre and the Mind Stone which is then used to power a synthetic body with an AI mind, called Vision. The stone sits in his forehead. It is revealed that Thanos has a left-handed Infinity Gauntlet.
  • Ant-Man (2015)

  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016) – The Time Stone is contained within a relic known as the Eye of Agamotto which resides in the mystical compound of Kamar-Taj in Nepal.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – The Tesseract is shown in Asgard where Loki makes eyes at it, so there is a suggestion he may have it. Hela reveals that the Infinity Gauntlet held in the same vault is a fake. Thanos makes an ominous appearance.
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – This is where the locations of the stones in relation to Thanos and his gauntlet will start to be Very Important.

If you’re planning on seeing Infinity War soon, my suggestion IS THAT YOU WATCH ALL THE MOVIES AGAIN WITH NO BREAKS. No, but seriously don’t do that. That’s just not wise from a health and safety perspective.

But if you do want to do a bit of catch up I’d recommend watching:

To Infinity and beyond!

Cosplay and Comics at Papanui Library

Love reading and drawing your own comics? Do you want help with your drawing, assistance with your technique and tips on comics, publishing etc and a free comic? All of this for no charge? Right then get yourself signed up for our free comic drawing workshop at Papanui Library with Spencer Hall, artist/cartoonist. The workshop is for ages 12-18, registered attendees only and a limit of 30. We won’t let you go hungry either, there will be pizzas from Hell.

comic book day posterThere was a waiting list of disappointed young cartoonists last year so don’t delay, break out the light sabers, shake out those capes, slap on the face paint and come dressed as your favourite comic book/Manga character and be in for a prize.

International Free Comic Book Day is on Saturday 7 May this year but our event, which will include free comics courtesy of Comics Compulsion, will be on Saturday 21 May.

The selection of free comics this year ranges from Dark Horse to Archie to Strawberry Shortcake to Titan’s Assassins Creed to Love and Rockets. Something for all tastes.

To see what you might be missing check out last year’s pictures.

Meanwhile back at the library our comic book collection grows apace. We have comic books about Men who dress as Bats, Women as Cats, Green Men, muscly men, and animals that talk, Bart Simpson and Adventures, Mysteries, Funnies, Scareys, the lot. I was delighted to see Scrooge McDuck, nephew Donald and the Beagle Boys make a comeback in hard cover. Made me quite nostalgic for my young reading self.

How Marvel-lous

Cover of Avengers the ultimate guideThe Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU as it’s known in the geeksphere, continues to grow with the recent release of blockbuster action movie The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And it won’t stop there. We’re currently in Phase Two, with further films and spin-offs due for release from next year.

What makes the MCU so interesting is that rather than simply being a disparate series of films (and television shows) featuring different super heroes who happen to originate from the same comic book company, there are multiple character crossovers between the films (both starring and supporting), and tantalising hints in post-credit sequences of future instalments. There is a master plan at work and it’s increasingly hard to keep a track of.

For those of you feeling a little overwhelmed by all the superheroes (and who wouldn’t?), I’ve prepared a crib sheet so you can navigate your way around the MCU with confidence.

Phase One

Phase One of the MCU officially began back in 2008 with the first Iron Man movie.

Cover of Iron Man the ultimate guide to the armoured super heroCover of The invincible Iron ManCover of Ultimate Iron Man II

Cover of The Incredible Hulk, Planet HulkThe Incredible Hulk film followed (the one with Ed Norton). Norton was supposed to continue playing the Hulk through The Avengers movies but “talks broke down” and he was replaced in later outings by Mark Ruffalo. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For those of you who like your Hulk more “bodybuilder in green paint” than “CGI motion capture”, we have four seasons of the TV series on DVD.

The next films in the series were Iron Man 2 in 2010 and Thor in 2011.
Thor introduced fan-favourite, Loki.

Cover of Thor God of ThunderCover of Thor the mighty avengerCover of New ultimates Thor rebornCover of Thor the trials of Loki

2011 also brought us the first Captain America film (curious “Cap” fans may want to check out the 1970s TV series).

Cover of Captain America the tomorrow soldierCover of Captain America volume 4Cover of  Marvel masterworks presents Captain America volume 2Cover of Captain America volume 3

Phase One ended in 2012 with the first Avengers film which brought Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Captain America together and added Black Widow and Hawkeye in for good measure. We also got our first look at villian, Thanos.

Cover of The Avengers 1Cover of Avengers 1 Avengers worldCover of The Avengers time runs out volume 2

Phase Two

Cover of Thor: the dark world preludePhase Two kicked off in 2013 with Iron Man 3 and was quickly followed by Thor sequel, Thor: The Dark World.

Also in 2013, the first series of Marvel’s Agents of Shield aired which followed on from events in The Avengers movie and features recurring film character, Agent Coulson.

In 2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released as was box office smash Guardians of the Galaxy (which included more screentime for Thanos). The retro vibe of the movie soundtrack album meant it was just as popular as the film.

Cover of Guardians of the galaxy volume 1Cover of Guardians of the galaxy cosmic avengers volume 1Cover of Guardians of the galaxy volume 3 guardians disassembledCover of Guardians of the galaxy

On television Marvel’s Agents of Shield returned in 2014 and events that took place during The Winter Soldier continued to have repercussions in the show’s second season. Though it stands on its own the series contains ideas and story arcs that are likely to make an appearance in the Marvel films. Recent episodes of the show (as yet unscreened in New Zealand) have been coordinated to set up the opening of The Avengers sequel.

A further television series, Marvel’s Agent Carter, features Peggy Carter from the first Captain America movie who has also appeared in Marvel’s Agents of Shield episodes in flashback. There’s a lot of “interweaving” in the MCU.

Meanwhile, Netflix series Marvel’s Daredevil has also recently been released.

Cover of Daredevil volume 2Cover of Daredevil the man without fear volume 9 King of hell's kitchenCover of Daredevil volume 6Cover of Daredevil end of days

Cover of Avengers Rage of UltronCover of Avengers battle against UltronSo far this year on the movie front we’ve had The Avengers: Age of Ultron but Ant-man is expected in a few months’ time.

Phase Three

Looking forward to Phase Three which roughly spans 2016-2019, there is a third Captain America instalment planned, a second Guardians of the Galaxy, and a third Thor film.

A Marvel’s Agents of Shield spin-off TV series has just been announced, and there will be an Avengers “Infinity War” two-parter which may or may not involve The Avengers and Guardians gangs crossing paths.

Cover of Thanso the infinity revelationCover of Avengers Infinity 4Cover of Avengers assemble

Cover of Captain Marvel volume 2 downOn the schedule are also a highly anticipated female super hero film, Captain Marvel, as well as Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Inhumans.

Phew.

And if you’re all “Marvel-ed out” now, I don’t blame you. Though if you’re keen for more hot comic action, it’s Free Comic Book Day tomorrow so get amongst, either at your local comic book store or at our Papanui Library event.
Otherwise, why not just sit back and enjoy Jeremy Clint Barton/Hawkeye Renner singing about being the least super of the super heroes?

Fantasy newsletter May 2014

A selection of covers from the latest Fantasy newsletter. This and other newsletters can be subscribed to from the libraries’ website.

Cover of The Tropic of Serpents Cover of Reflected Cover of Seven wonders Cover of Baptism of Fire Cover of The war of the grail Cover of Powers: supergroup

A case of mistaken identity

The other night I went to the movies, to see The Avengers. Not being an aficionado of comics and their associated movie franchises, I thought I was going to see something involving Emma Peel… so I found myself in the theatre under somewhat false pretences.

False start aside, I had a jolly good time. Reviews of Marvel’s latest movie offering have been mixed (the Guardian‘s Damien Walter suggested that “the sci-fi blockbuster transcends cultural boundaries by doing away with the whole problem of meaning and replacing it with CGI spectacle.” ) but if you like your rip-snorting super-heroes-save-the-day kind of movies – or even if you’re not sure you do – this certainly fits the bill. An enjoyable “popcorn” movie, it romps along with just the right number of laugh-out-loud lines and yes, a good dollop of CGI spectacle. (Fancy some giant skeletal space-faring turtle-things of Doom? Of course you do!)

If, like me, you feel like everyone in the theatre but you knows this cast of heroes personally, never fear! You can swot up at your library, where you’ll find both The Ultimate Guide and The Ultimate Character Guide to set you right. You can also use our catalogue to explore the wider Marvel world, or check out our collection of superhero movies.

So, super hero fans, a whole new world has opened before me! What should I look at next to expand my comic book horizons? Who are your favourite super heroes?

Boy + iPhone = iBoy

Are you inseparable from your cellphone, iPhone or iPod Touch?  You have instant access to information and can connect with friends and family at the touch of a screen.  Imagine though, if you had access to any cellphone, could hack into any computer system, and you had your own built-in defence system.   When Tom Harvey wakes up in hospital with fragments of an iPhone imbedded in his brain, this power is inside him.

In Kevin Brooks’ new book, iBoy, Tom lives in a high-rise housing estate where violence, drugs and gangs are a part of daily life.  At nine and a half minutes to four on a Friday afternoon, as Tom is walking back to his flat, a 32 GB iPhone is thrown out a window on the 30th floor, landing on Tom and shattering his skull.  When he wakes in the hospital, he discovers two things 1) that his friend, Lucy, has been brutally assaulted and 2) fragments of the iPhone are still imbedded in his brain and have given him the powers of an iPhone plus much more.  Tom becomes ‘iBoy‘ and must now decide whether he will use his powers to exact revenge on those who have hurt Lucy or keep quiet.  But will Tom be able to control his powers or will iBoy take over?

Although Kevin Brooks has been writing for years I’ve only just discovered him.  His stories are gritty and often portray the harsh realities of life, but his characters are just normal teenagers who have to find ways to deal with their problems.  Unlike some young adult novels, Brooks doesn’t pile his characters up with problems just for the sake of it.

If you like your young adult books with gritty storylines and real characters, rather than sparkly vampires and swooning girls, try iBoy by Kevin Brooks.

Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

If you watched the Emmy’s last night and thought the presenter, Neil Patrick Harris was awesome, you love the show How I Met Your Mother, or used to watch Doogie Howser, M.D. then this hilarious super hero musical is for you.  I discovered it while searching on Amazon a few weeks ago, but it started as a free internet show when the writer’s strike was on in America.  It’s the brainchild of Joss, Zack and Jed Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame.  Dr Horrible is an aspiring super villan who is trying to get into the Evil League of Evil and also get the girl of his dreams.  However, his nemesis, Captain Hammer always seems to get in the way.  After being defeated so many times he decides he has to take drastic measures.  Neil Patrick Harris is absolutely amazing as Dr Horrible and he’s a great singer as well as a great actor.  The songs are hilarious, with such titles as ‘My Freeze Ray,’ ‘A Man’s Gotta Do,’ and ‘Everyone’s a Hero.’

You can watch the whole show (in three parts) here on Youtube.  You won’t be disappointed.

What’s the time Mr. Wolverine?

What time indeed? Well, it’s very nearly popcorn scoffing time for fans of one of the more hirsute X-men (Beast being rather more hairy though not as bolshi) as X-men Origins: Wolverine comes out in cinemas this week on 29 April.

Wolverine was always one of my favourite X-men characters with that winning combination of surliness and admantium skeleton. He’s like House but instead of cutting sarcasm he has cutting knuckle-knives. I am also excited to see that characters from the comics such as Gambit will be turning up in the film (what can I say, I like that Cajun accent).

If none of this makes any sense to you then all you need to know is that there was a comics series called The Uncanny X-men which spawned a successful series of blockbuster films and that the latest one is due for release, oh and Hugh Jackman is involved, and the whole thing was sort of leaked on the internet, and they filmed some of it in New Zealand. Phew.

Those of you more attuned to pop culture references about genetic mutants might be interested to know that the library has a good selection of Wolverine-related tales in our collection. Grrrrrr!