His creative contemporaries and successors remember legend Len Wein!

Additional reporting by TJ Dietsch

“If you really want to tangle with someone—why not try your luck against—the Wolverine!”

Imagine: It’s the summer of 1974. You’ve just read to the end of INCREDIBLE HULK #180—the newest issue—and a brand-new character nearly leaps out of the art at you with claws extended. You’re just not sure how you’ll be able to stand the wait until the next installment to see what’s up with this new mystery man, and then you turn to the book’s credit page and wonder how this Len Wein guy keeps coming up with all this cool stuff…

“The Wolverine” moved on past his throwdown with The Hulk and Wendigo to become one of the most popular comic book characters ever when he hooked up with a certain band of merry mutants a few months later in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1—also written by that Len Wein guy. Today, the long line of legacy from the writer through his creation to modern scribes and artists stands as a testament to the impact Wolverine’s made on the comics industry and its fans.

“In that seminal issue, Len established Wolverine’s blunt, pugnacious, take-no-prisoners voice as a character,” posits X-MEN: GOLD writer Marc Guggenheim. “Sure, Wolverine would become less verbose and chatty in future incarnations, but his blunt attitude was established in that first appearance in INCREDIBLE HULK.”

“It’s incredible how Len Wein, along with artist Herb Trimpe, shaped Wolverine perfectly from the very start,” says ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK artist Leinil Francis Yu. “That [debut] is 40-years-old and it still reads like the Wolverine we have today, complete with the attitude and richness we all love about him.”

Mike Deodato, himself a veteran X-Men illustrator and current artist on OLD MAN LOGAN, agrees: “He is a rebel; he is rock n’ roll. He doesn’t care for anything or anybody, but at the same time he will give his life for them. He is savage, unpredictable, and that is what makes him so attractive.”

“It’s the physicality—short, hairy, like a gnarled old tree—and the indomitable spirit, I think,” ponders DEATH OF WOLVERINE writer Charles Soule when considering Wein’s mutant scrapper. “Wolverine never stops, no matter what gets thrown in his way. Because of his healing factor, it’s almost like he can’t stop. He’s very fun to write, but more importantly, very fun to read.”

Wolverine’s Canadian heritage made him something of a rarity at that time among super heroes, as well as his direct approach to problems in his path.

“In many ways, Wolverine was so unlike any character readers were really familiar with,” one-time WOLVERINE writer Cullen Bunn insists. “He was violent and vicious, but a hero, too. The mystery element was heavily ingrained in the character, which made him all the more interesting. He was working for the government, but beyond that, we didn’t know much about him. Maybe more than any character created before or since, he represented the potential for amazing stories ahead. Other creators capitalized on that potential, making Wolverine the household character he is today.”

“I think Wein created the ultimate outcast,” says Juann Cabal, the artist behind ALL-NEW WOLVERINE. “To me, Logan is the outcast among outcasts. To Wein’s credit, [he] gave him the appeal of being different, wild and mysterious without falling strictly into the antihero cliché. He might have his inner demons, but his moral compass is always pointing the right direction. In my opinion, this is what has made the character stay relevant all this time.”

Perhaps Cabal’s partner on ALL-NEW WOLVERINE, writer Tom Taylor, sums it up best when he notes that “there was something perfectly realized about that first appearance of Wolverine.”

“It was all there on the page. The attitude was there, the brash bravery. But Wolverine was also not infallible. He had a savagery, and wasn’t a perfect, untouchable hero. It was a character everyone wanted to see more of. And, clearly, the rest of the world did too. There have been so many great Wolverine stories. None would exist without Len.”

By summer of ’74, Wein’s comic career stood as relatively new, though he’d racked up a sizable number of scripts for a variety of titles. He’d taken over INCREDIBLE HULK only an issue before “the big one” but his introduction—along with artist Herb Trimpe and costume designer John Romita—of Wolverine to fight the jade giant forever cemented him into the firmament of comic book superstars.

He also, by all accounts, kept his feet firmly panted on solid ground.

“I got to meet Len a number of times in 2014 while I was writing the DEATH OF WOLVERINE story, as well as working on a long run featuring one of his other signature creations, Swamp Thing, over at DC,” says Soule. “I found him to be gracious and kind, and generous with his conversation and time. He dreamed up enormous swaths of the super hero landscape that will last for generations—a legacy most could only dream of.”

“First and foremost, Len’s creation of the ‘All-New, All-Different’ X-Men was seismic and industry-changing,” notes Guggenheim. “Without Len, there’s an excellent argument to be made that there wouldn’t be any X-Men today, and certainly not the X-Men that we’ve come to know, love, and cherish. I had the good fortune to meet Len a few years ago at San Diego Comic-Con and he truly couldn’t have been a nicer guy.  He clearly loved comics, both the industry and the medium.”

“As a creator, I think the truly incredible thing you discover writing [his] characters is just how different they are, and how human,” offers Taylor. “They have flaws. They’re complex. They struggle. Len’s characters breathe.”

Bunn takes it one step further: “Len’s work was a huge influence on me. Like many of my absolute favorite creators, he wore his imagination on his sleeve, and he didn’t let anything hold him back from putting that on the page.

“Since I owe my whole career to Wolverine, Len and Herb’s creation means a ton to me,” says Yu. “We may be divided by a few decades, but I am proud to inherit and to continue to breathe life into Wolverine and the X-Men.”

“As a fan, Len created some of my absolute favorite heroes,” concludes Taylor. “Some of these characters are the reason I’m a comics fan.

“The world would have been a far less heroic place without Len Wein.”

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The global comic book community celebrates the life of the iconic creator.

Additional reporting by Maggie Klimentova

The news of Len Wein’s passing rocked the comic book world this week—and people everywhere shared their stories in honor of his memory.

Writers, artists, creators, and fans spoke about how he dreamed up so many cherished characters and comics; how he enriched and influenced so many lives along the way. Wein—the man who conceived of iconic Marvel heroes like Wolverine, Storm, and Colossus—shaped generations of creators who came after him.

Beyond the emotional depth and humanity he expressed on the page, Len Wein stood as a kind, generous spirit beloved by his peers. His colleagues universally remembered his bold spirit and giving nature, his humor in the face of adversity. Their words and memories represent a testament to his legacy.

 

Len Wein’s legacy will endure in both the hearts of the community that celebrates him and in the characters whose stories will live on forever.

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Looking back on the life and career of a legendary creator.

Marvel pauses to reflect upon the passing of writer-editor Len Wein, a giant of the industry whose creative career stands out as one of the most prolific and significant of all.

A native New Yorker, Wein set out to be a comic book illustrator, and though he eventually gravitated to and settled upon writing as his calling, his eye for visuals made him and his scripts a favorite of many artists. One of the first fans to make the important leap into the ranks of comics professionals at the dawn of the 1970s, he wasted no time in learning the business and making his mark.

After cutting his teeth at DC Comics where he co-created Swamp Thing, Wein tried out at Marvel and following a smattering of stories for Westerns and horror books, he quickly showed his promise as a force to be reckoned with on super hero titles. In 1973, MARVEL TEAM-UP provided one of his first steady gigs as writer at Marvel, opening the door for him to prove his mettle in nearly every corner of the still-growing Marvel Universe. By 1975, he’d contributed to such titles as AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, DEFENDERS, FANTASTIC FOUR, INCREDIBLE HULK, POWER MAN, STRANGE TALES, and WEREWOLF BY NIGHT.

The creation of Wolverine and the All-New X-Men rank as stand-out achievements for the writer during this period. With artist Herb Trimpe, Wein introduced Wolverine as a scrappy Canadian agent sent to engage The Hulk in INCREDIBLE HULK #181-182, and one year later utilized the mutant hero as part of his and artist Dave Cockrum’s effort to revive the Children of the Atom in 1975’s GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1. Among their new creations for the seminal book stood Colossus, Storm, and Nightcrawler.

Other Marvel characters co-created by Wein include Brother Voodoo, The Golem, Jigsaw, Jamie Madrox, Stegron, Thunderbird, and the Wrecking Crew.

Amazingly, Wein also operated for over a year as Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief at the same time he worked as a writer, eventually stepping down from the office to be replaced by his close friend and fellow scribe Marv Wolfman. Wein continued to script for Marvel throughout the decade until heading back to DC to write and edit throughout the 1980s.

In the 1990s, he forged a new career apart from comics as a writer for several animated TV series. Though he dabbled in the industry which gave him his start, he only returned to comics writing in full after the turn of the century.

Len Wein will be remembered for the bold heart with which he infused his stories and characters, as well as his drive to seek out new horizons in his writing. It’s no stretch to say that a comic fan of the 1970s would be hard-pressed to gaze at selection of comics on the rack in that era and not see Wein’s unique championing on their favorite characters—as well as brand-new heroes and villains from his incredible imagination.

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The House of Ideas says goodbye to a legendary creator.

Statement from Marvel:

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Len Wein’s passing, and send our deepest condolences to his friends and family. Len’s contributions to the Marvel Universe as writer, editor, and member of the Marvel family will never be forgotten. He will be missed.”

Statement from Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso:

“Len Wein’s legacy is wide and far-reaching–among other things, he co-created Wolverine and Swamp Thing, edited Watchmen, and chaperoned the British Invasion that would change comics–but he was also one of the most open and friendly men you could ever meet.  No matter your rank in this industry, Len treated you the same way–like you were a fellow traveler, like he was just another fan. He will be missed.”

Statement from Marvel Senior Vice President, Executive Editor Tom Brevoort

“Len was one of the first fans to go pro, but he never lost the sensibility of a fan in all of his years in the industry. There was more calling to Len’s work than job—you could tell that he was just having the best time coming up with all of this crazy nonsense. He was also a sweetheart as a person, among the best-regarded creators of his time. His many creations—in particular but not limited to the All-New, All-Different X-Men—go without saying. I’d hazard a guess that no other creator of his era had originated or co-originated more characters and concepts that would later be turned into media projects. Heck, even the Human Target has had two (Two!) TV series!”

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