The creator of Wolverine, Len Wein was born June 12, 1948, in New York City. 15 years later, during his time in high school, he began to realize how far the potential he showed in comic books could take him. In college, he earned a degree in art and from that point forward he never looked back as he walked his career path.
A Giant Size leap forward…
His career ultimately began in the 1970’s while working as the writer for his and Bernie Wrightson’s creation, Swamp Thing. While things were progressing along nicely for him, he knew that there was something bigger calling him.
The 1970’s were an interesting time at Marvel. More specifically, the 1970’s were a difficult time for the X-Men. The stories were stale and the audience had been showing little to no interest in the famous team.
He and Dave Cockrum were tasked with turning the stumbling franchise around. But before he could do that, he had something very special in store…
The man known as Wolverine…
In 1974 Len Wein was tasked with spicing up the Incredible Hulk. Seeing that at the time one could only create so many stories involving the green behemoth, he took it upon himself to create a new character.
He immediately began researching the tiny animal known as a wolverine. He quickly realized that the creature, his character, would have to be a short, hairy, and temperamental creature who could be instantly recognizable. From there he used his newfound knowledge to give birth the world’s favorite character, Wolverine.
Little did he know just how successful a character whose first appearance was nothing more than a small cameo on the final panel of a comic would be. As we all know, Wolverine has gone on to transcend the comic book industry.
With his new creation in hand, he set his eyes on fixing the aforementioned X-Men.
Giant-Size X-Men was released and almost instantly the X-Men franchise turned around. He and Cockrum boldly predicted that the world wanted diversity in the ranks of the team…and they were right. They united the old team (Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey, Iceman, and Angel) with an all-new cast that hails from different parts of the world.
- Nightcrawler from Germany
- Storm from Africa
- Banshee from Ireland
- Colossus from Russia
- Sunfire from Japan
- Thunderbird, an Apache Native American
- Wolverine from Canada
By bringing a new freshness into the ranks, the floundering franchise was given new life.
DC Comics comes a knocking…
Wein’s talents wouldn’t go unnoticed in the industry and eventually, he made his way to the rival DC Comics. While there, he wasn’t tasked with writing for many notable characters, some of which include Batman, Superman, The Flash, and the Justice League of America.
As his notoriety increased, so to the willingness of others to work with him. Point and case, he was asked to edit the Alan Moore masterpiece and undoubtedly the greatest comic ever released, The Watchmen.
Tough times ahead…
In 2008, tragedy struck when Len Wein had his house burn down. Unfortunately, as a by-product of the fire, he lost many of his personal belongings and his treasured comic books mementos that he had amassed.
Six short years later, Len Wein successfully underwent a triple-bypass heart surgery.
Finally, on September 10, 2017, Len Wein was unable to continue fighting and passed away. A true legend in the industry, he is gone but not forgotten. Hugh Jackman said it best “Blessed to have known Len Wein. I first met him in 2008. I told him – from his heart, mind & hands came to the greatest character in comics.”