I never claim to have met Len Wein. I won’t even insinuate that I’ve been a lifelong fan of the man, because that wouldn’t fit the narrative of his presence in the world of comics. And yet, hearing this amazing creator passed away today left me with an ache in my gut and grief in my heart.
Although Wein created one of the most popular comic book characters in the world when he introduced Wolverine in the Incredible Hulk #180, he never gained the widespread notoriety of other writers in the field. Hell, there’s still a lot of folks out there that think Stan Lee made the ol’ Canuckle Head. He also created one of the most endearing figures of DC’s mystical universe when he introduced (along with artistic horror savant Bernie Wrightson) Swamp Thing to fans. He also was a seminal editor in the evolution of modern comics, helming Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Killing Joke, and Watchmen. And yet, he seemed a background character, preferring to let his accomplishments speak for him than to take center stage like a lot of other comic creators have done.
As I grew as a comic fan, I came to realize just how important Wein was. I was a huge fan of the X-Men, especially Wolverine. I eventually looked into the guy who co-created my favorite character, and it was impossible not to see how important that man was to the medium - Check out his Comic Vine, Comic Book DB, or even Wikipedia page and marvel at how many incredible stories and characters he created.
Every article on the guy let it be known how wonderful he was, how much other creators admired him, how influential he was to publishers – Wizard magazine alone seemed to have an edict where they talked to the man every ten issues or so. But then there were stories about his health, like a quintuple bypass heart surgery in 2015, and a heart attack in 2017.
And now, he’s gone far too soon.
Today a good man was lost in a world that has too few, a pillar of the comics community, whose contributions are still felt to this day; he resuscitated the X-Men, he created Jigsaw and Amanda Waller and the modern Cheetah. He oversaw some of the greatest mini series ever created and served as an inspiration to everyone who wants to make comics. We as fans of sequential art owe him a great deal of gratitude.
This is a sad, sad day, and I think I need to pull out the Untold Legend of Batman and have a good cry.