Len Wein’s Best Comics

by Blaise Tassone

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The creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine (among many others) if it wasn’t for Len Wein modern superhero comics would look very different. Getting his start early on in the comic book industry, Wein worked for both Marvel and DC and his creative vision shaped the modern landscape of both publishers. In this post I’ll explore Wein’s best comics.

Len Wein (1948-2017) was born and raised in New York. Wein was originally introduced to comics at the age of 7 during a prolonged hospital stay after his father brought him a stack of comics off the newsstands to read. He was immediately mesmerized. Wein graduated from Division Avenue High School in 1966, and then went on to obtain an art degree from Farmingdale State College. With his childhood friend, Marv Wolfman, Wein eventually decided that he wanted to work in comics professionally and both got their big break when they were hired to work as assistants to then DC editor Joe Orlando.

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Batman #323 (May 1980) – Start of the Batman/Selina Kyle Romance

Wien’s run on Batman isn’t as widely remembered as other runs from the late 1970s and early 1980s but during his time with the title he did a lot to keep the book interesting. For one thing, as this issue shows, he decided to introduce the strong romantic feelings Bruce has for Selina. Today the Batman/Catwoman relationship is basically taken for granted (even if Tom King made some fans furious by promising but not delivering a wedding). This was only one of Wein’s creative innovations introduced during his Batman run. Batman #323 is highly affordable comic but can be worth as much as $190.00 in 9.8 grade.

 

 

 

 

 

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House of Secrets #92 (May 1971) – First appearance of Swamp Thing; Swamp Thing cover; Swamp Thing story; Classic Wrightson cover

Working with artist Bernie Wrightson, this comic is the first appearance of the Swamp Thing. After this was published, the character was revised and then brought back to star in his own series (again with Wien and Wrightson taking the creative reins), but the Swamp Thing we know and love today was largely influenced by the stories written by Alan Moore. Once again, however, we have Len Wein to thank. Wein not only hired Moore for DC in the early 1980s, but also insisted that Moore work on his old character: Swamp Thing. That only highlights the generosity of Len Wein, as well as his sharp instincts for spotting talent. Later Wein would also edit Moore’s famous Watchmen series. Today HoS #92 in 9.8 grade has a FMV of $56, 000.00.

 

 

 

 

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Incredible Hulk #181(November 1974) – First appearance of Wolverine

Everyone’s favorite Canadian Mutant owes his existence to the imagination of Len Wein. Wein created the Wolverine to face the Incredible Hulk after the big Green brute stumbles into Canada. The Canadian government sends ‘Weapon X’ after him and the rest is comic book history. Wolverine is probably one of the most popular comic book characters ever created and if Wein had only written this comic he would be fondly remembered. Incredible Hulk #181, as most readers of this blog know, is one of the most popular and sought after books of the Bronze Age. It currently has a FMV in 9.8 grade of $36, 000.00.

 

 

 

 

 

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Giant Size X-Men #1 (December 1974) – First appearance of Colossus; First appearance of Storm; First appearance of Nightcrawler; First appearance of Thunderbird; First appearance of new X-Men; Second appearance of Wolverine; First Wolverine in X-Men team

Yes, it’s true…if it wasn’t for Len Wein, we wouldn’t have the all new, all different, X-Men. I seriously cannot imagine modern Marvel without their international X-Men and it all starts with the story “Second Genesis” by Len Wein; with art by Dave Cockrum and Gil Kane. This comic highlights Wein’s real strength as a writer. Wein was an enthusiastic fan of comics and knew the history of superhero comics so well that he was able to expand on the legacy of the characters he wrote about. Nowhere is that more in evidence than here, where we get a rebirth of a classic Silver Age team in the Bronze Age. GS-X-Men #1 has a FMV of $14, 000.00 in 9.8 grade, and it’s my pick for best Len Wein comic.

Wien was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2008 and he died, too soon, at the age of 69 on September 10, 2017.

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