Len Wein, co-creator of Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm and Swamp Thing, has passed away at 69, according to multiple comics industry professionals, including Paul Kupperberg.
While no cause of death has been reported, the 69-year-old Hall of Fame member has suffered from poor health over the last few years and has been in and out of the hospital for foot surgery over the last few months, according to posts on his Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Wein’s long and distinguished career in comics started in 1968, when he wrote the story “Eye of the Beholder” for Teen Titans #18 — the first appearance of the Russian hero Red Star. And he would be far from the last character co-created by Wein.
Wein went on to write horror titles at both Marvel and DC, including House of Secrets, Tower of Darkness and Chamber in Darkness; romance titles like Secret Hearts; and tie-in comics like Hot Wheels, Star Trek and The Twilight Zone. In 1970, he started writing more superhero comics, including Daredevil, Adventure Comics, The Flash and Superman. In 1971, he and artist Bernie Wrightson introduced Swamp Thing in the pages of House of Secrets, and the duo would go on to work on the first Swamp Thing series — a character he would one day edit, during Alan Moore’s work on the character.
The early 1970s also brought another creation at DC — the Christopher Chance version of the Human Target, with artist Carmine Infantino. He also wrote Justice League of America, Conan, Batman, Amazing Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk — where he and Herb Trimpe first introduced the world to Wolverine. In 1975, he’d bring Wolverine with him for a run on the X-Men, as he and Dave Cockrum introduced an entirely new team in Giant Size X-Men #1 — which included the first appearances of Nightcrawler, Storm, Thunderbird and Colossus. He worked on issues #94 and #95 of the title before passing the baton to Chris Claremont, who would start his epic run on the title.
In the late 1970s he returned to DC Comics, writing titles like Batman and Green Lantern, then eventually becoming an editor. Throughout the 1980s, he worked on titles like the maxi-series Camelot 3000, The New Teen Titans, All-Star Squadron, Batman and the Outsiders, Who’s Who in the DC Universe and Watchmen.
After a stint as editor-in-chief of Disney Comics, Wein would go on to write for TV, while still contributing to comics. He’s worked on various comics for Dark Horse, Bongo, Penny Farthing and DC Comics over the last couple decades, including DC’s “Before Watchmen” project in 2012. He also wrote the Watchmen video game, The End is Nigh. He’s been nominated for and won several awards during the course of his career, and in 2008 was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.
It’s amazing seeing the number of creations and stories Wein both co-created and had a hand in during his lifetime — just co-creating Wolverine is an accomplishment. Just co-creating Swamp Thing is an accomplishment. Just editing Watchmen is an accomplishment. Wein did all three — and so much more.
“What we are doing in comics today is based on the trailblazing work of people like Len,” said DC Entertainment Publisher Jim Lee in a statement. “We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to him.”
Smash Pages offers out condolences to his family and friends.