Sunday, June 12, 2016

World´s Greatest Comic Writers : Len Wein

When I found out that comic legend Len Wein celebrates his 68th birthday the first thing that went through my mind was : " Oh god, I have to do three DC posts in a row. " But then it dawned on me that he also worked at Marvel where he co - created a little known character named the Marten, no, the Fitch, the Lynx, the Badger or was it the Wolverine ?

But not only did he co - create one of the most popular characters of all times for Marvel he also wrote the INCREDIBLE HULK series from issues 179 to 220 which includes the brilliant issues with the Sal Buscema and Ernie Chan art combo. Yes, I have mentioned it on the blog a dozen times and there will be probably as many posts in the future but for me this was the best period of the book and Len Wein wrote it all. But not only that. Len also wrote what I personally consider to be THE best Hulk stories of all times The Circus Of Lost Souls ! in INCREDIBLE HULK issue 217.

But his contributions to iconic Marvel moments doesn´t end there. Many comic historians talk about the new X - Men team that Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum created and which revitalized the X - Men and turned them into the fan favorite and media sensation they are Today. What gets a bit lost in all the brouhaha is that Len Wein co - wrote the first issues.

He also did a stint on FANTASTIC FOUR in the Bronze Age writing issues 154 to 156, 182, 184 to 188, 191 to 194 which includes George Perez´ seriously underrated run on the book and other Fantastic Four related stories like the Thing vs Hulk battle in MARVEL FEATURE 11 and GIANT SIZE FANTASTIC FOUR 4 which introduced Madrox, the Multiple Man.

One of his longest stretches on a title was in AMAZING SPIDER - Man where we did issues 151 to 180, which were the first new issues that came out in Germany when Condor Comics started publishing the adventures of everyone´s favorite neighborhood wallcrawler again.

As usual Condor cut most of the text and mangled the rest but I recently bought volumes 16 and 17 of MARVEL MASTERWORKS : AMAZING SPIDER - MAN which contain issues 157 to 180 so I can finally read all these issues in the original language. God, the art by Ross Andru brings back so many memories. He doesn´t get nearly enough credit for his work on AMAZING SPIDER - MAN. And speaking of great work on Spider - Man comics Len Wein also wrote his team up book MARVEL TEAM - UP from 12 to 27.

Kung Fu was a big thing during the Bronze Age and Len Wein did his fair share of work on Marvel´s martial art heroes Iron Fist and Shang Chi.

All these comics came out at the Condor Comic Verlag but even before that there were issues 85 and 86 of the AVENGERS which he co wrote with Roy Thomas and which were published by the german Williams Verlag.

Speaking about the Avengers, Len Wein did another long stint on THE MIGHTY THOR writing issues 242 to 253 ( which are collected in the If Asgard Should Perish hardcover I just recently bought ) and 255 to 271. 

He also wrote a solo story of the Warriors Three in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT.

It seems that of all the Avengers members Len Weinfelt the most affinity for the thunder god since the only other Avenger related book he wrote was IRON MAN and even that only lasted from issue 82 to issue 85.

Much more affinity did Len Wein show for Marvel´s horror characters like DRACULA, BROTHER VODOO or WERWOLF BY NIGHT and how could you not have the guy who co created the SWAMP THING with Bernie Wrightson working on MAN - THING ? Of course he worked on a lot of other Marvel horror books but seriously, how long do you want this post to get ?

I could go on and on and on about all the Marvel books Len Wein worked on but I think you get a good idea how prolific the man is. If you have a decent sized comic collection there are bound to be some issues by him among them and maybe this post has wet your appetite to whip some of them out and give them another read. There may be another Len Wein Marvel post in the near future but before that there will be a Len Wein DC post probably about the TALES OF THE DARK KNIGHT hardcover that collects all his Batman stories. I´m going to leave you with a few more Marvel titles by Len Wein. Happy birthday, Sir and many happy returns !  

Today´s other comic related birthday is MAD cartoonist Dave Berg who passed away in 2002. I thought I had an original strip from him but I couldn´t find it so I had to look through the covers of various MAD publications until I found some pocket books. Those were the only ones where you could find artist centric stuff like for Don Martin, Sergio Aragones, Spy vs Spy or Dave Berg. He always had a knack for looking into people´s brains and putting the typical mundane stuff on the page.

While going through the MAD covers I noticed that the german issues of MAD have a plethora of covers that were made exclusively for the german market - which is only natural when they put german politicians or celebs on the cover. What I found a bit strange is that the german MAD focuses more on the movie spoofs and has more sexy women on the covers.

Man, I had a huge stack of MAD but like any young and unexperienced comic fan I lent them to a friend who lent them to a cousin who lent them to his uncle who lent them to his friend and in the end nobody knew where they ended up. And this is how I lost my mad collection except for a few pocket books. Anyway, right now I don´t have the time but if there´s interest I could do a post with the covers that only appeared in Germany.

Since this is the Marvel post about Len Wein I should probably be posting something about the Man - Thing but let´s all pretend that movie never happened. In any case Len Wein wrote the scripts for two Swamp Thing movies and one of them is actually good. Just ask Siskel and Ebert.

I just had to do a restart and wait an hour so I have no idea what I wrote here. Probably something about the fact that Yesterday Adrienne Barbeau had her birthday and that Today it´s Len Wein and that they both worked on Swamp Thing. As usual I find all the good clips after I need them and here´s one from Fantasy Island where Adrianne shows her big talents.

While searching for a video about the Swamp Thing comic I came across this. I didn´t know there even WAS a Swamp Thing cartoon show and if this doesn´t qualify for mentioning on MIKE STERLING`S PROGRESSIVE RUIN ( link can be found on the blog roll ) I don´t know what does.

You really can find the darndest things on YouTube. I already wrote about the excellent Human Target series which was written by Len Wein but it seems there was an earlier attempt. Here is the pilot that never aired.

One of the writers who followed Len Wein on Swamp Thing was Alan Moore and I also mentioned him Yesterday and posted a video about Watchmen. Here is the episode of Prisoners of Gravity about Watchmen.

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