Former Marvel and DC editor and writer Len Wein died on Sunday, aged 69. His cause of death is still unknown, but as indicated on his Twitter page, Wein had been in and out of hospital for various surgeries. Dave Gibbons reported he had been talking to Wein earlier in the day to reminisce about their work together on “Green Lantern” at Rose City Comic Con in Portland.
Born in New York City on June 12, 1948, Wein and his childhood friend Marv Wolfman enjoyed touring the offices of DC Comics when they were open to the public on Thursdays, and eventually interned for the company. One of Wein’s earliest accomplishments was the creation of Swamp Thing with artist Bernie Wrightson for July 1971’s “The House of Secrets” #92.
Wein also wrote for Marvel, and by 1974 he succeeded Roy Thomas as their editor-in-chief, overseeing the “Marvel Premiere” arc that year that introduced Iron Fist, as well as the creation of the international second generation of X-Men. He introduced Wolverine in “The Incredible Hulk” #181 (November 1974), before unveiling the rest of the new characters – Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus and Thunderbird – in May 1975’s “Giant Size X-Men.”
Wein eventually stopped working for Marvel due to low pay: as he explained during the release of The Wolverine in 2013, he received more royalties from the usage of Lucius Fox, a character he created for “Batman” #307 (January 1979), than from any of his characters’ appearances in the X-Men films. It was during the 1980s that Wein oversaw some landmark works, editing Alan Moore and Gibbons’ “Watchmen,” scripting the early issues of George Perez’s “Wonder Woman” run, and collaborating with John Ostrander to reinvent the Suicide Squad in the miniseries “Legends.”
By the 1990s, Wein branched out into television, writing episodes of the decade’s animated Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Godzilla series. He wrote the 2009 Watchmen movie tie-in game Watchmen: The End is Nigh, and continued to revisit that universe by writing some of the 2012 “Before Watchmen” projects, like the limited series “Before Watchmen: Ozymandias,” and the “Dollar Bill” one-shot. In 2014, he cameoed as Congressman Davis in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Wein is survived by his wife, photographer and attorney Christine Valada. His passing has led to many online tributes from the comic book community, as well as from Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman. DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson said:
“Len Wein was one of the most welcoming people and legends in comics from the moment I joined DC eight years ago. He wrote or edited almost every major DC character – there’s hardly a facet of DC’s world that Len didn’t touch. I, DC and the industry will miss him and his talent very much. Our love and prayers go out to Christine, his family and his fans.”
A statement from Marvel read:
“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.”