The one and only Stan Lee, Marvel’s marvel has died at the age of 95.

The incredibly talented co-creator of the Avengers, Black Panther, the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Spider-Man, the X-Men and others was more than just a comic book legend, becoming an iconic face to pop culture fans the world over via his keenness to engage in the name of community – and his world famous cameos.

The native New Yorker was born Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28, 1922 – he assumed ‘Stan Lee’ as he wished to reserve his birth name for “serious” writing. A keen writer through his youth, he landed a gig at Timely Comics, which later became Atlas Comics, which then evolved into Marvel. His first published work there was an episode of Captain America and, as they say, the rest is history.

It was rivals DC that actually spurred the explosion of superheroic exploits from which Lee really made his name. From their success in the late 1950s came inspiration for a reinvention of existing tropes, with comic book heroes that also exhibited signs of flawed humanity beyond the archetype of perfect people that had been the norm until this point. The first such example was 1961’s Fantastic Four. Lee was also instrumental in pushing the boundaries of comic censorship, bringing more depth and realism to the medium.

In 1972 Lee gave up his full-time writing of comics to assume the role of publisher at Marvel. This is when he really became the public face of the company, attending conventions and even lecturing at colleges around the US. There was no holding a good writer down, however, and he still contributed to many classic Marvel stories.

It may surprise some to learn that through the 2000s, Lee did some work with “rivals” DC for their Just Imagine series, as well as collaborating on manga works such as Heroman and Karakuri Dôji Ultimo.

Scoring a slew of awards from comic book circles through to a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Lee was also a keen philanthropist, creating The Stan Lee Foundation to focus on literacy, education and the arts.

From 2000’s well-received X-Men movie to the massive success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with what was seen as a gamble at the time in Iron Man, Lee cemented his place in the pop cultural hall of fame to an entirely new generation with his regular cameos. One of his last was even in a DC creation – his appearance being one of many highlights in the animated Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.

Everybody knew that this day would one day come, but everybody wished that it wouldn’t. Excelsior, Stan Lee.