First Appearance of Stan Lee Using Excelsior!

Marvel legend Stan Lee passed away today and in addition to a universe of indelible and iconic characters, Lee also left fans with a distinct catchphrase, "Excelsior!"

It turns out, while "Excelsior!" wasn't the first catchphrase attributed to Lee, it is his most famous. Lee told io9 in 2007 that competition was always appropriating his other catchphrases, such as "Hang Loose", "Face Front", and "'Nuff Said", so he found one that no one would copy -- Excelsior. He first made use of it in 1968.

According to Kleefeld on Comics, the first instance of Lee's "Excelsior!" appearing in comics was Fantastic Four #71 in 1968. The phrase appeared in the "Stan's Soapbox" from the issue and once he used it there, he simply never stopped.

As for Lee's choice of the phrase -- something he told io9 was something his competitors wouldn't know where it came from -- Kleefeld shed a little bit of light on that as well. The phrase was adopted by the State of New York for the official seal in 1778 and, in 1841, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was inspired to write his poem "Excelsior" from it. According to Kleefeld, Lee, had read the poem and at some point, recalled that he had appropriated it from Longfellow. As Lee was a New York native, if the anecdote is true, it's a fitting origin for the phrase.

It's also a term that many are using to honor Lee, including professional rivals, DC Comics. Rivalry between Marvel and DC Comics is infamous, with Lee regularly referring to his comic publishing competitors in his Marvel Bullpens beginning in the 1960s. However, despite the rivalry and playful disparaging Lee engaged in referring to DC as the "Distinguished Competition", even DC marked Lee's passing with "Excelsior".

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"He changed the way we look at heroes, and modern comics will always bear his indelible mark. His infections enthusiasm reminded us why we all fell in love with these stories in the first place. Excelsior, Stan," DC Comics wrote in an official tweet marking the Marvel co-creator's passing.

How are you remembering Lee in the wake of his passing? Let us know in the comments below.