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Thread: RIP Len Wein

  1. #1
    The Scavengers AW Moderator regdog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Primus' Poster Children For Bad Life Choices

    RIP Len Wein

    Creator Len Wein has passed away. Among the characters he created were Swamp Thing and Wolverine. He was 69


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  2. #2
    Everything is under control. nighttimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Color me unsurprised nobody's commented on Len Wein's death.

    Most folks don't know Len Wein from a cold bag of french fries. That's a shame, but that's how comic creators are. We know their work, but we can't remember their names.

    Maybe this will help.

    Like Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, Jim Shooter and Denny O’Neil, Wein came to comics from the first waves of organized fandom. The older contingent of this cohort had other jobs or careers like journalism or teaching high school. Wein was on the younger side and wound up going directly into the comics-making profession but, like his elder compatriots, he bought a sort of ambitious worldiness to his craft.

    From the very beginning, Wein’s writing showed an interest in seeing how the superhero idea would play in different cultural contexts. As young twentysomethings, he and Wolfman tried to introduce DC’s first black superhero in the 1960s but were shot down by the editorial regime. His first professional writing credit for DC Comics, shared with friend Marv Wolfman, featured the debut of Starfire (whose name was changed later to Red Star), a teen hero out of communist Russia. This was during the height of the Cold War yet the character wasn’t quite a one-dimensional villain like so many Soviet characters before him. Yes, he had a political allegiance that was diametrically opposed to the American characters he met but he was still a hero. That open-minded curiosity about how to craft characters outside of the safe, central casting template would be a hallmark of Wein’s writing.

    When Marvel decided to relaunch the comatose X-Men series with an international cast, Len Wein co-created characters like Storm, Colossus, Thunderbird, and Nightcrawler with legendary artist Dave Cockrum. This was after Wein had already partnered with John Romita, Sr. and Herb Trimpe to bring Canadian ass-kicker Wolverine to life. Some of the characterizations may have been egregiously broad but imagining superheroes from other countries and cultures had a profound impact in comics’ fictional and real worlds. Readers who saw top-tier characters that looked like them and spoke their languages felt like they too belonged in heroic roles and thought that they could craft them as well.

    With Storm in particular, Wein helped lay the foundation that would propel the character to incredible popularity. Ororo Munroe isn’t an unsure neophyte when we meet her; she has the powers, bearing, and responsibilities of a goddess. Later X-Men stories would have her cautiously adjusting to life outside the African continent in more down-to-earth fashion, but Storm’s first appearance introduced readers to a black female character designed to elicit awe. One of the most powerful characters in the series was an African woman; that was revolutionary.
    That's absolute truth. Storm is easily the second most popular "new" X-Man with only Wolverine topping her, but Wein and Dave Cockrum came up with an African goddess learning how to be a Black woman and navigate through a world that would regard her with fear and suspicion based upon being a woman, being Black and being a mutant.

    She was also sexy as hell.

    R.I.P. Len Wein.
    "Why should we do the dirtiest jobs for the lowest pay? Why should we do the hardest work for the lowest pay? Why should we pay the most money for the worst kind of food and the most money for the worst kind of place to live in? I'm telling you we do it because we live in one of the rottenest countries that has ever existed on this earth. It's the system that is rotten; we have a rotten system. It's a system of exploitation, a political and economic system of exploitation, of outright humiliation, degradation, discrimination all of the negative things that you can run into, you have run into under this system that disguises itself as a democracy."
    ~ Malcolm X

    January 2018



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