Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Rest In Peace Len Wein

It was with great sadness that I read that comic legend Len Wein passed away this week. Wein was truly a prolific creator with a career that spanned decades. He created Wolverine. He started the All-New X-Men team which reinvigorated that franchise. He created Swamp Thing and had a brilliant run on that initial book with Bernie Wrightson. And he had a run on Spider-Man that is lauded. And that is just scratching the surface.

Because he also was a tremendous editor. He edited Camelot 3000. He edited the early Moore Swamp Thing issues. His touch is literally on 100s of books in my collection. Just a force within the comics industry. Legendary. Prolific. Esteemed. Missed.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that he wrote Superman and Supergirl every so often. In fact, two of my favorite stories where the cousins team-up were written by Wein. I have covered them both here in the past but many years ago.

In the landmark issue Superman #338, Wein had Superman finally enlarge the bottle city of Kandor, leading to the creation of Rokyn. Here is my review from way back when I first started this place in 2008!

It is a great story, and a gutsy one given it was (at the time) irrevocably changing a major part of Superman mythos.

But the thing that stuck out to me in this story was that Wein wrote Supergirl as an equal to Superman, a partner. Not a junior hero or a sidekick. In fact, Kara has the best moment in the book in my opinion.

It's Kara who makes the tough decision to let Brainiac continue to shrink, victim of his own weapon. There isn't enough energy to enlarge Superman, Kandor, and Brainiac. And in that equation, Brainiac loses.

That is hard core.

Wein also wrote a tremendous three part story in DC Comics Presents, spanning issues 27-29. It is a wild story, introducing Mongul and the concept of Warworld to the DCU. It brought Martian Manhunter back into the spotlight. And in the third part, Superman basically meets God. Just brilliant.

The middle chapter has Superman teaming up with Supergirl to fight Mongul. I reviewed this one way back in 2011:

Once again, Wein writes Supergirl as an adult hero and having her chastise Superman when he tries to protect her.

It's Kara who finds the trail to Warworld.

It's Kara who understands the scope of the problem.
And it is here that she tells Superman that she needs him. And it is her duty to join him in protecting the universe. She won't be sent home.

And ultimately, it's Supergirl who disables Warworld, using herself as a battering ram to gut the thing.

Wein's career was just too voluminous to cover in one post. But when I see writers treating a character like Supergirl with the dignity and respect she deserved, especially then, I have to tip my cap. So thanks for all the stories Mr. Wein. God speed!


Anonymous said...

An incredible, prolific and influential creator. He wrote so many characters: Superman, Supergirl, Swamp Thing, Spider-Man, the then All-New X-Men...

"Let My People Grow!" and the DC Comics Presents story arc are some of my favorite Bronze Age Superman stories. He wrote a great Superman, a terrific Supergirl and he didn't shy away from their power levels. Since they had godly powers he came up with a threat powerful enough to kill them. He elevated them rather than wimpifying them. Writers who see storytelling opportunities instead of problems to be fixed are a rarity in the comic-book industry.

"But when I see writers treating a character like Supergirl with the dignity and respect she deserved, especially then, I have to tip my cap."


Thank you for everything, Mr. Wein. May your soul rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Wein was a versatile and capable comics creator for sure. He could write an incredible array of characters from obscure characters like Deadman and the Metal Men to the popular mainstays such as Superman and Hulk. He revived the X-Men, introduced the fan favourite New Teen Titans roster and created his own comic icons such as Wolverine and Mongul. Plus he helped bring over new British talent into the comics industry. Even Hugh Jackman has given Wein respect at two past SDCC comic cons. His impact was undeniable and he'll be surely missed.


Anonymous said...

This a helluva shame...but does anyone else notice a persistent pattern in the late Bronze Age where Supergirl would inevitably Shine as a Guest Star in Someone Else's Book? Len Wein embodied Mort Weisinger's dictum "There are no bad characters, there are only bad writers". I can pay him no higher tribute, just remember "The X-Men" were pretty much on Marvel Comics "B-List" when he took them in hand back in the 1970's. This is a real loss...we will miss him. And yes, "His Kara" was BadAss....I like her clinical tone with Superman "No Cousin there isn't enough energy" very detached and a big tip off that this is NOT some convoluted silver age mash up where once again the Super Cousins will be stymied in their latest bid to save Kryptonian Civilization.

RIP Len Wein.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments!
I'm glad he is getting the recognition he deserves.