When I think of what inspired World Walkers, I don’t think of Tolkien. Don’t get me wrong. I respect The Rings like anyone else. But when I think of what stories I grew up with, the ones that shaped me and inspired me, I think of something other than the Shire.

I think of a boy who lost his father figure, and used his guiding words not just to take care of his aunt in the face of tragedy, but make the world around him better. I think of a group of children who saw a world who hated them and instead decided to put their faith in a man who told them they could change the hearts and minds of the planet by living as an example. I think of heroes who, time and time again, laid their life on the line without question. People whose existence inspired stories of courage. Sacrifice. Honor.

These stories were all possible because of Stan Lee. The characters he created, the stories he weaved, and the worlds he created laid the foundation not just for the Marvel Universe, but for many other universes, including the World Walkers Universe. Countless individuals owe a great debt to his work.

I’m one of them.