Swamp Thing, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Lucius Fox, Amanda Waller, Storm and Wolverine.
These are just a few of the essential characters created by Len Wein.
His influence has been felt in every corner of the comic book world. That’s why his death on Sunday at the age of 69 is particularly devastating to the community.
With his work at both Marvel and DC he shaped the stories of countless legendary characters and in turn shaped the lives of countless fans.
His additions to the X-Men roster helped reinvent the team into the modern-day version that is seen today.
As one fan on Twitter pointed out, before him the X-Men were just five white kids.
Wein gave readers a reflection of themselves and an outlet to know they weren’t the only outsiders in the world.
One of his earliest creations, Swamp Thing, heralded a shift in what a hero could be and helped make the supernatural an essential part of the DC universe.
That is the genius Wein brought to comics. His stories and characters made the entire industry strive to be more creative and unique.
He is responsible for one of Marvel’s most popular heroes, Wolverine. The character signaled a new direction for superheroes, the gruff, loner, outlaw. That archetype has now become more prevalent than the All-American clean-cut Superman example.
The introduction of Wolverine changed how readers viewed what a hero should be.
For black women, Wein gave them the gift of two of their greatest heroes; Amanda Waller and Storm. These are strong, powerful, smart black women who routinely go toe to toe with the comics world’s strongest male heroes and villains. And more importantly, Wein had them do it unapologetically.
In addition to his creations as a writer, as an editor he was responsible for Teen Titans, Batman and Watchmen.
With Watchmen, he once again turned comic books on their head and made everyone rethink how they could tell better stories.
Without Len Wein the comics world just got a lot less interesting and unique. Fortunately, there is no limit to his influence and reach in the comics industry, as there is no major character he did not have an effect on whether through creation, writing, editing or inspiration.