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The Wednesday Club’s Comic Picks: Len Wein – A Life in Comics
The Wednesday ClubThe Wednesday Club

The Wednesday Club’s Comic Picks: Len Wein – A Life in Comics

In memory of Len Wein, 1948-2017

The Wednesday Club, hosted by Amy Dallen, Taliesin Jaffe, and Matt Key, is Geek & Sundry’s weekly talk show discussing all things comic books. This week the hosts took a look at the life and legacy of the legendary comics creator Len Wein.

Len was known not only for the almost countless contributions to comics he made—your favorite character was probably created or re-energized by him—but also for being genuinely friendly to fans and colleagues in the industry alike.

“He co-created Wolverine, co-created Swamp Thing, co-created most of the second generation of X-Men,” Amy said.

“He is the Illuminati of comics,” Taliesin said. “He’s just behind everything.”

Len’s body of comics work is almost too large to cover in one list, but the hosts highlighted some of his most well-known and beloved characters and books. “It’s not a body of work, it’s the body of a leviathan,” said Taliesin. “This man worked on every comic book ever written.”

Giant-Size X-Men

Giant-Size X-Men

Wein and Dave Cockrum reinvented the team of mutants in 1975 with a single standalone issue that has become a comic book legend. Giant-Size X-Men introduced and re-introduced characters like Nightcrawler, Colossus, Wolverine, and Storm, and bridged the gap to the original team of X-Men, who hadn’t had a new story published in years.

“It’s just an amazing collection of characters that they brought out,” said Taliesin.

“This is one of the biggest, most important contributions Len Wein had made to comics,” Matt said.

“I don’t know who I’d be if he hadn’t introduced those X-Men,” said Amy.

(Marvel Comics, Len Wein and Dave Cockrum)

Swamp Thing

The Swamp Thing made his unforgettable debut in House of Secrets #92 as Dr. Alec Holland found his life forever altered in the swamps of Louisiana. “You’ll never be the same again” after you read it, promised the cover of a reprint of The Original Swamp Thing Saga. “It’s so true,” said Taliesin.

Not only did Len create Swamp Thing, he’s also credited with connecting Alan Moore to the character, who reportedly was intimidated when he was contacted by Len to work together. “That’s who Len Wein is,” Matt said with admiration.

(Vertigo Comics, Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson)

Human Target

Christopher Chance is the Human Target, a man who puts himself in harm’s way to protect those who need him (and pay him). Chance has no superpowers, but he’s highly skilled at disguise, espionage, combat, and more to keep himself alive in the face of constant danger. Chance was originally created by Wein in backup stories of Action Comics in 1972, said Taliesin, and in 2010 experienced a resurgence thanks to the Fox TV series with the same name.

“I became a fan of the Human Target because of the original 1992 television series that they made,” Taliesin said with a smile. “I found the comic book because I thought this was the best thing ever when I was a kid.”

(DC Comics, Len Wein and various co-writers and artists)

Tales of the Batman

Tales of the Batman

In the 1970s Len pitted the Dark Knight against just about all of the villains in his rogue’s gallery in Tales of the Batman and other stories. “It was really interesting, almost psychologically disturbed Batman stories that I’m always a big fan of,” Taliesin said.

“It is kind of Batman’s storytelling at its best,” said Matt, “because he is such a deep, psychological character. He’s so messed up.”

(DC Comics, Len Wein and various artists)

The list of Len’s incredible characters and books goes on and on, and the hosts also chatted briefly about DC Universe Legacies and Alan Moore’s DC Comics Presents #85: Superman and Swamp Thing.

“Len Wein is the reason I do what I do, in a lot of ways, because Nightcrawler is the reason I got to read comic books,” Matt said. “Thank you for creating a character that my mother and father were able to look at and say, you know what? Comics are okay for our oldest to read.”

“May we all leave behind the ripples of sweet, generous personal stories in our wake,” said Taliesin. “What a phenomenal legacy.”

Hang out on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel every Wednesday night to catch the next amazing episode of The Wednesday Club.

Featured Image: Geek & Sundry

Other Images: Marvel Comics and DC Comics

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