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The Carriage Driver 4 – The Marvel Stan Lee


Frame One

Joan, at the Dialog Café on Holloway Drive, paused and watched the door as the Hulk and The Thing walked in and took the corner booth. Normally the booth would hold four, but not with these two sitting there.

Joan walked over with two large mugs and a pot of coffee and placed one each in front of them and poured. Inside a large bubble over her head with marble size bubbles leading to it, was lettering that said, “Hope that green does not rub off.” She said, in lettering within a speech balloon. “Are you ready to order?”

The two glanced down at the menus. “We are going to need a minute. We are going to need another cup, Invisible Girl is with us.” The bubble appeared above The Thing’s head.

Frame Two

Thor and The Black Panther walked in talking about the carriage and white horse waiting across the street. They took the booth on the opposite end of the café. Thor set his hammer down and opened and closed his hand. The arthritis had come on slowly over the years.

Joan walked over with a tray of cups and a steaming hot pot of coffee. “Any invisible people with you this morning?”

The two glanced at each other. “Bring each of us a foot tall stack of hot cakes. Just the two of us for now. There is a good chance that more of us will arrive. Keep the coffee coming.”

The Human Torch was pacing outside in front of the Café. The sight of The Carriage Drive sent a shiver through him.


Frame three

Jack Kirby walked in and took a seat at the counter. His thumb, index finger and middle finger stained with black ink.

The Hulk finished his coffee and tried to get the waitress’s attention. When she finally arrived, in the speech balloon, were the words, “Don’t make me angry. You would not like me when I’m angry.”

Joan filled the cup, walked back behind the counter filling Jack Kirby’s cup as she passed. She stopped short; there was a man in a latex suit clinging to the far wall. “Get down from there.” Bold lettering filled the speech balloon.

The front door opened. Jack Kirby turned to see who it was. He looked around the room. The big booths were filled. He got up and moved to the last chair at the counter allowing enough space for the X-Men to have a set. Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Icemen, Jean Gray and The Professor took seats.

The Inhumans had arrived, but did not enter. They were talking to Nuelle and The Carriage Driver. They were very curious about what came next. They all were as far as that goes.

Frame four

Spider-Man climbed down from the wall and took a seat at a table for two. Just then Iron Man walked in and took the empty seat across from him. “I told you, I don't want to join your super secret boy band.”

A young man stopped by the carriage. He pats a few of the Inhumans on the back. In a speech balloon above his head, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Words, directed at The Carriage Driver.

The Iceman got up leaving a seat for Stan Lee next to Jack Kirby. The Iceman joined Mister Fantastic who had quietly entered.

Pancakes and scrambled eggs were being served to various tables. A second waitress had arrived answering the call for help.

After being served coffee, Stan stood up and raised his cup. “I want to thank all of you. Through you I dealt with my every insecurity, addressed my many fears and lived the life of an explorer. You were all riddled with my insecurities. Together we fought overwhelming odds. We stood up to injustice and corruption. We turned over rocks and crushed the bugs that crawled out.” He put his cup down.

“During the decades that we worked together, wave after wave of villainous parasites stood up against us. Unlike the real world, those of us here in this room more often than not stood our ground and were victorious. We fought for peace and equality. He paused walked over and put his hand on Spider-Man’s shoulder.


Frame five

“We have been doing this together for seventy years. Every bit of my life has been shared in one way or the other through the pages that you adorn.” He turned to Jack, “Together we entertained millions of people. We influenced the culture or perhaps, counter-culture. We suffered gamma rays, radioactive spiders, and mutants with the “X” gene.” He turned back to the room. “I poured my vanity into you. Together we raged along life’s highways. Is everybody here?” He looked around. “I don’t see Silver Surfer or Falcon.”

Hulk spoke up. “They are outside looking at the white horse and the guy who looks like he would have fit in on that old TV show Bonanza.”

Frame six

Stan Lee pulled his attention from Nuelle. “There is good news. Just because I am moving along, does not mean that the lot of you will not continue on for years to come. Spider-Man, you are a superhero, among superhero’s. Your name is every bit as well known as Superman and Batman. And Hulk, every teenager feels like they are the Hulk with super strength.” He picked up his cup of coffee that had been refilled. “Here is to you.” He took a last seep of coffee. Thinking of all the coffee he drank in his career as a writer.

The Thing and Hulk slid out of the booth and stood up. Spider-Man and Iron Man also stood.

Stan waved his hand goodbye and walked out of The Dialog. He headed toward The Carriage Driver and Nuelle. “I know all the people inside. But you’re new.”

“We are your ride. Nuelle and I will take you wherever you want to go.”

“Introduce me to Nuelle.” Stan Lee asked.

The Inhumans stepped aside and the introductions were made. “There is a small ritual we do before each ride.” He reached into his coat pocket and retrieved an apple. With a pin knife he cut the apple into four pieces. He feed two pieces to Nuelle and handed a quarter to Stan Lee. The last piece he popped into his mouth.

When done, Stan Lee stepped inside the carriage. The Carriage Driver climbed aboard. “There is a blanket beneath the seat if you are cold.” As the carriage pulled into L.A. traffic, Stan Lee watched Spider-Man shooting out his web as he climbed one of the few skyscrapers in the city. Iron Man used the miniature rockets in his sleeves and near his feet to fly across the sunlight skyline. Hulk and The Thing ordered another stack of hot cakes.

Joan began clearing plates as The Fantastic Four vacated leaving a decent tip. Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey and The Professor stepped out the door of The Dialog and in a step or two blended in with the sea of humanity on the streets of L.A.

“Do you have an idea of where you want to go?” The Carriage Driver asked Stan Lee.

“First, I would like to catch up with my wife Joan. We have a lot of catching up to do. We were together for sixty-nine years. I miss her.”

Nuelle knew the way.



mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on May 15, 2019:

Hello Ann - Thank you. I read some comic books as a kid, but lost touch with the fantastic world they offered. I did not know of Stan Lee, but should have. I appreciate the visit and nice comment. The comic book frame format added to the piece.

Ann Carr from SW England on May 15, 2019:

Fantastic! I like the way you've done this like a comic strip.

I only know lots about the more modern Marvel characters because of my grandchildren but I could see them all in the café with that inspired name! I had heard of Stan Lee though.

This is fun, gentle, and the ending has your usual 'ritual' to round it off nicely, Mike.

Great to read some 'Carriage Driver' again!


mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on December 17, 2018:

Hello Genna - As a kid I had a newspapers route, the Sunday funnies were a favorite, as were some comic book heroes. I did not know the name Stan Lee. Not a big enough nerd it seems. I have memories of Superman and Batman and Sad Sack comics along with Mad Magazine. It amazed me that he was married for so long. That must be a story all by itself. If I were to revisit this writing, at the end, I would have the waitress Joan go in the kitchen and change into a Superhero outfit and chase after the carriage, Nuelle, and Stan with a speech bubble over her head that says, 'Shsssh, he forgot what I looked like when I was twenty.' AKA Joan his wife who spent her life with Stan Lee and the superheroes. Happy holidays - hugs.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on December 17, 2018:

Hi Mike. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know much about the Marvel comic book action/super heroes, although I have seen Spiderman on film -- and Superman. Lee was incredibly imaginative. This is so well written, Mike...I now feel as though I know him and the heroes he created. And I love how this ended, with Mr. Lee confiding that he was anxious to see his dear wife of 69 years...and how Nuelle "knew the way." Hugs.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on December 17, 2018:

Hello Sha - I did not know anything abut Stan Lee until now. As a comic book reader, I never gave a thought to the writer or illustrator. It looks like quite the fantasy world to have spent a career. Apparently all Stan Lee's characters were flawed, something of a trademark with him. Happy holidays.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 17, 2018:

Mike, you're so good at this. I always learn something about the people you feature in this series. I know who Stan Lee is, but not all of the characters he was responsible for bringing to life.

Whenever I hear the name Stan Lee, I think of Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory. Stan Lee was his hero.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on December 16, 2018:

Hello Ruby - Thank you. Stan Lee certainly was a creative soul. He entertained us all from behind the scenes. I appreciate the visit. Glad you enjoyed this episode. Happy holidays.

alwaysexploring on December 16, 2018:

I have loved comics all my life. My son Jackie was ' the Hulk ' many times. Stan Lee will be remembered until the end of time. You excel with each character you give a final wish. This was great.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on December 16, 2018:

Hello Peg , First things first, here is a refill and a piece of apple pie. Now sit back and relax while your breakfast is made. You mentioned Stan Lee, which was a coincidence, as, I had made a note to myself that he would make a suitable Carriage Driver story. I quickly did plenty of research, as the people behind the comics never have been given any thought.

Glad you enjoyed the story. Man that comic book store idea here in the comments is a good idea.

Let me top that off for you. Enjoy your Sunday.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on December 16, 2018:

This was so much fun! It brought back memories of the Emerald Wells Cafe combining it with each of the Marvel characters with their standard personalities and traits. Had to laugh at the Hulk and his standard line. Loved the speech bubbles and Stan's last wish. Wonderfully entertaining! Thanks so much, Mike.

Please tell Joan I'm ready for a refill and a piece of that apple pie.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on December 15, 2018:

Hello Patty - How very funny your comment is. I am sure Jerry Lewis would have lots to say about the current climate we all find ourselves immersed in. The Unmentionable-1, oh, how I hope to see the day when that is a true sentiment. Had I thought of it, I am sure I would have Stan Lee journey to the Golden Age Comic Book Store where he presided over the land of superheroes. That would actually be a good movie.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 15, 2018:

This story fits in with the new Spider-Verse animated film in which Stan Lee owns a comic book store...and it causes me to think of the Jerry Lewis story -- I dream about Jerry in the phone room getting fed up and coming down to visit president Unmentionable-1 and giving him a high holy berating.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on December 15, 2018:

Hi Bill - Thanks for the promotional work or reference. I look forward to hearing from her.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on December 15, 2018:

Hello Maria - I almost gave the cook a speaking role. He of course would be named Earl. For about a second, this was going to take place at EWC. Thanks for the danish, coffee and Saturday hugs. Stan Lee was a writer, just like us. Imagine.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on December 15, 2018:

Hello Verlie - Thanks a lot. I wrote this in one sitting. You can likely tell. Glad you laughed. I did not realize just how many characters came from the writing mind of Stan Lee.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on December 15, 2018:

Hello John - Thanks. The idea to use the speech bubbles allowed this story to progress. Otherwise, I had nothing.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 15, 2018:

He was such a cool and talented dude.

Other than comment further on this fine piece of writing, I wanted to tell you an HP writer by the name of MizB (Doris is her real name) will be getting in touch with you about doing a book cover for her. This is for a client of hers, and there is a budget, so don't charge TOO low on the job.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on December 15, 2018:

Dear Mike,

How wonderful to wake up to a heartwarming Carriage Driver story and one of my all time favorite Queen songs.

This format makes me miss our EWC days - here are some cheese Danish for you / your readers to enjoy as we step back in time.

Happy Saturday hugs,


Verlie Burroughs from Canada on December 15, 2018:

Mike, this is perfect! Genius using the comic book format. And funny too. Made me laugh. One of your best.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 14, 2018:

Love this one Mike, being a Stan Lee fan. Excellent job bringing his characters into the diner and still using speech bubbles.

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