Before we begin here, I just want to say I am a comic lover, one with out boarders, I see all companies as equals (even Boom! Studios, if you count them as a real comic company), please keep that in mind if I at times seem to favor one over the other.
Stan “The Man” Lee was recently interviewed by TVKids.ws, covering the usual things you talk about with a living legend (not to mention him being a playable character in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man video game.) When he was asked about his methodology about creating superheroes, he pulled no punches.
“Basically, if you’ve read my stories you know I’m very scientific minded. For example, I didn’t just have Spider-Man gain a spider power miraculously, I did it as scientifically as possible—he was bitten by a radioactive spider. It could have happened to anybody. When the Hulk became the Hulk, it just didn’t happen casually—there was a gamma-ray bomb that exploded. If you ask me what a gamma ray is, I would have no idea at all, but it sounds very scientific, I think. The Fantastic Four, they gained their powers from cosmic rays, of which I know as little as I do gamma rays, but they sound impressive. At that point I ran out of rays, so when I had to do the X-Men, I took the cowardly way out, I said, well they’re just born that way, that’s all. They’re mutants. That got me off the hook there.”
Sounds reasonable right? He (co-)created those characters in the atomic age when science ruled supreme and made the craziest of dreams come true. Sure if you were bombarded by radiation or bitten by a arachnid that was you’d probably just get leukemia, but it’s comics people. We accept that. Then Stan continues.
“You’ve seen Superman flying on the screen, haven’t you? What is his means of propulsion? What makes him fly? He doesn’t have a jet engine, there’s nothing pushing him, he just sort of assumes a horizontal position, lies on the air and off he goes. When I wanted a character to fly, such as the Silver Surfer, I gave him a flying surfboard—perfectly scientific, perfectly understandable, and not the least bit as frustrating as wondering how Superman does it. So as you can see, science is really something I’m very much into and every factor of our stories is as scientifically accurate as I can make them.”
Hang on, so a cosmically endowed flying surfboard given by a being of unspeakable size that eats planets is now ‘scientific’? Now, I am not calling the Generalissimo out here or anything, I still have nothing but the highest regard for the man, but this had to be very tongue in cheek and just a gentle prod to the big blue boy scout.
Besides, Lee also (co-)created the very unscientific Thor.
And Superman flies via latent telekinetic powers.
I’ve said too much.
If you want to check out the whole interview, (and you should, ’cause it is Stan freakin Lee for crying out loud), you can do so here.