Sunday, September 10, 2017

Len Wein (1948-2017)

   Len Wein, one of my favorite comic book writers, has passed away after a long illness. Wein was active in both DC and marvel Comics from the late '60's onward. He most notably created Swamp Thing for DC and the ever popular Wolverine for Marvel, as well as revitalized the X-Men in general in the mid-'70's for the company. I particularly enjoyed his long runs on Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk from the late '70's. When I first began collecting old comics, Wein's runs on those titles were some of the first I sought out.
     While Wein is most known for creating Swamp Thing and many of the second generation of X-Men, he was a journeyman in the world of comics who wrote short runs of just about every character you could name. My personal favorite was the penultimate Marvel Feature #11 from 1973. I stumbled across it at a convention in Charlotte in 1990. The story featured an obscure alien character placing a wager with Hulk's arch-nemesis ,the Leader, that the Fantastic Four's strongmen, the Thing, in a fight. For a long time there, fan debate raged over which of the two was strongest, and any match up between Hulk and the Thing was highly sought after. The issue lead to the Thing earning his own title in which he teamed up with another character every issue.
    Later in his career, Wein branched out to script writing. He penned a number of stories for animated series featuring comics characters. Most notably were Batman: The Animated Series, Spider-Man, and X-Men.
     Wein was in poor health most of his life and on dialysis for the last few years. He came to love comics in much the same manner as I did—he was given stacks of comics to read in order to pass the time while recuperating from various illnesses as a child. His health was in decline so long, I do not remember a time when rumors of his imminent passing were not floating about in comics fandom. Yet he always managed to bounce back with new endeavors. He often appeared at conventions to meet fans. I imagine in person meetings were the catalyst for persistent rumors of his inevitable death. But he always beat the odds...until this morning.
     Godspeed, Len Wein.  

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