Len Wein (1948 – 2017).

§ September 11th, 2017 § Filed under obituary § 2 Comments

And so soon after losing Bernie. And like his most famous artistic partner, I am sure Mr. Wein still had so many great stories left to tell that we’ll never get to see. I believe I even saw a recent interview or ‘nother where he was talking about still writing even more Swamp Thing after his recent return(s) to the character. I know I had my criticisms of the last mini-series, but dangit, this was still new Swamp Thing written by the co-creator and I would have welcomed more.

And yes, I know he did much more than Swamp Thing, though, if you’ve been hanging around my site long, you know that’s my favorite of his work. He had a…comfortable narrative style in those early Swamp Things, one that pushed along the plots while simultaneously evoking the necessary dark moodiness of the stories’ settings and events and digging into the psyches of the characters and paying heed to the necessities of (semi-)monthly serialization. It’s a difficult balance to maintain while still making it all so accessible and fresh and seemingly effortless, and one I’m beginning to re-appreciate as I plow through those comics in detail in my ongoing project to reread and examine each issue.

Wein has left behind an enormous body of stories and creations, the most famous of which being Wolverine, introduced as an antagonist in some mid-1970s issues of Incredible Hulk…and of course Wein wrote the reintroduction of the X-Men shortly thereafter, bringing in Wolverine and cocreating new additions to the team (such as Storm and Colossus). Wein also wrote what seemed like every other DC comic I read as a kid, which is an exaggeration I’m sure, but not much of one. I can still feel how blindsided I was after reading “Whatever Happened to the Crimson Avenger?” in DC Comics Presents #38, which I thought would be just another in that “Whatever Happened to…” series of entertaining but not terribly significant back-up stories in that title, only to get hit with a serious emotional whammy regarding a character I previously hadn’t thought much about.

It was Wein who got Alan Moore to write Swamp Thing, which likely saved that title from cancellation (everything I’d heard at the time from the shops I frequented was that the newly-revived series was probably on the chopping block, or close to). And of course Moore went on to do Watchmen with Dave Gibbons, with Wein as editor. (Wein would later write the Ozymandias title for DC’s much-maligned Before Watchmen event…I know we’re supposed to not like those comics, but Wein’s effort, with artist Jae Lee, was actually pretty good.)

One of Wein’s later works was the mini-series DC Universe: Legacies, which was a fun ride through (and sort of a last hurrah for, with the New 52 looming ahead) the extensive history of DC’s superheroes. That just sort of let Wein do what he did best: play with DC’s army of characters and put ’em through some entertaining paces.

And that’s what Len Wein did: he wrote stories for pretty much every character DC and Marvel had, and always came through with something fun to read. Didn’t even scratch the surface of everything he’s done (well, okay, Wolverine, X-Men, and Swamp Thing are pretty deep scratches) but he was one of the primary building blocks of what made comics Comics for pretty much my entire life, and I’m going to miss seeing new work from him. But thankfully, he left plenty of work behind that we can continue to enjoy.

So long, Len. And thanks for being a sport and autographing my Swamp Thing chalk:

Still makes me smile every time I see it.

2 Responses to “Len Wein (1948 – 2017).”

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    There should be comments here!

    I enjoyed the comics he wrote in the mid-70s when I was a kid. Those comics he edited later were largely entertaining and involving to the older kid in me. I didn’t catch on to Swamp Thing until the Saga series started but going back to read the original run was fun and the first back issues I really tried to find in great (& pricey) condition. I didn’t stick with it but that first issue of his recent Swamp Thing series was definitely unsettling in a good way. RIP, Mr. Wein.

  • Kristin says:

    I was really sad to see this. I always think of him as the editor on my all-time favorite comic The New Teen Titans back in the ’80s. I knew he was a prolific creator/writer/editor in comics but I hadn’t known he had suffered health problems for so long. My sympathy to his family.