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The Greatest Len Wein Stories Ever Told!

Every day in May we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Len Wein Stories Ever Told!

Enjoy!

I’ll give you the top five stories that DIDN’T make the Top Ten…

15. Amazing Spider-Man #153 “The Longest Yard”

Touching one-off story about the lengths a former football player will go to to protect his daughter’s life. Ross Andru did the art.

14. Fantastic Four #187-188 “The Rampage of Reed Richards”

The Molecule Man takes control of Reed’s body and chaos ensues. George Perez art!

13. Defenders #13-14 “Defenders versus Nebulon”

The introduction of Nebulon, but most importantly, this is the story where Nighthawk reforms and joins the Defenders. Sal Buscema did the art.

12. Incredible Hulk #202-208 “The Jarella Saga”

The Hulk’s love, Jarella, returns and, well, let’s say that something happens that makes the Hulk go on one of his most savage rampages ever. Sal Buscema did the art.

11. Batman versus the Incredible Hulk

Drawn by Jose Garcia-Lopez, this was the third DC/Marvel crossover, and Wein marvels, particularly with his take on the Joker.

10. Amazing Spider-Man #176-180 “New Green Goblin”

The return of the Green Goblin! But who is under the mask?!?! Ross Andru did the art.

9. Tales of the Green Lantern Corps

This mini-series, plotted by Mike Barr, introduced some concepts still being used at DC, including the big bad behind Blackest Night, Nekron! Joe Staton did the art.

8. The Untold Legend of the Batman

Wein tells Batman’s (then current) origin in this early mini-series from DC. Art by John Byrne for the first issue, Jim Aparo for the other two.

7. Phantom Stranger #20-24 “The Dark Circle Saga”

The Phantom Stranger faces off against an evil organization known as the Dark Circle. Art by Jim Aparo.

6. DC Comics Presents #27-29 “Where No Superman Has Gone Before”

Mongul is introduced, along with Warworld, in this three-parter that also involved the Martian Manhunter, Supergirl and the Spectre!! Art by Jim Starlin.

5. Justice League of America #100-102 “The Return of the Seven Soldiers of Victory”

The name of the tale says it all! Art by Dick Dillin.

4. House of Secrets #92

The introduction of Swamp Thing! Art by Bernie Wrightson.

3. Incredible Hulk #180-181

Hulk tangles with Wendigo and some other guy! Art by Herb Trimpe.

2. Swamp Thing #1-10

Wein’s run on Swamp Thing with Bernie Wrightson – Anton Arcane is introduced and killed (for the first and not the last time).

1. Giant-Size X-Men #1

The introduction of the All-New, All-Different X-Men!

Art by Dave Cockrum, who co-created the new X-Men alongside Wein (except for Wolverine, Banshee and Sunfire, of course, who were already around before this issue).

That’s the list! I’m sure there is a lot of agreement and disagreement with the list out there! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

And please vote for the lists that are still up for grabs here!

33 Comments

Is it just me or do all those Len Wein Covers look strangely similar?

GS X-men 1 as no. 1? Really? I mean I know it is a monumentally important issue in the history of comics, but is the story really that good?
Also can’t believe that the Clayface III story from Detective 478-79, or any of those awesome (to me, anyway) short Deadman features in the Adventure dollar comics didn’t even make the top 15…
Even so, it is a rather strong collection of stories – and I’m a bit ashamed of myself for forgetting that Wein wrote a few of these, like Batman v. Hulk and the Nebulon story. But I’m so glad that the 3-issue Superman space opera from DC Presents got some love…

Some good choices!

The Return of the Seven Soldiers of Victory must be very close to the top of the list of best Bronze Age JLA stories, and a contender for a spot in the Top Ten Best JLA Stories ever.

Untold Legend of the Batman was one of the culminations of the pre-Crisis Batman saga.

Pretty strong collection of first appearances here, too! Mongul, Nekron, Wolverine, the original “New” X-Men and Swamp Thing(!) Has another writer chosen this month had so many first appearance stories cited? The man must have a knack!

i feel like this list addresses the “importance” of len wein much more so than it does the “quality” of len wein. are hulk 180-181 really people’s favorite len wein issues in terms of quality, or do they just appreciate that he created wolverine? i also appreciate that he created wolverine, but i tried to read hulk 181 a while back… not the man’s best work.

however, i was very happy to see the mongul intro from dc presents on here. definitely would have been on my list had i voted.

Can’t believe I forget the SSOV story, glad it got included.

Ya, it’s amazing how many amazing things were created by Wein. He’s probably second only to Kirby for original ideas. Of course, HoS #92 was definitely the most quality thing on the list. I’d rank it just behind The Anatomy Lesson for great Swamp Thing stories. His pacing of a whole issue just doesn’t work well for horror most of the time, though the Cthulu story was appropriately terrifying.

So who was under that Green Goblin mask?

Bart Hamilton, Harry’s shrink.

So who was under that Green Goblin mask?

Old Man Withers. And he would have got away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling Spider-Man.

@JackKing: It was Bart Hamilton, Harry’s psychiatrist at the time. And I’m in the small camp of people who think he would have made a great reveal as the original Hobgoblin, given his background (former Green Goblin, presumed dead in an explosion over a river but no body, and the ability to hypnotize / brainwash, which the Hobgoblin does early on with Lefty Donovan)

@Dalarsco: Len Wein is definitely a candidate for #2 behind Kirby for original ideas, but there are others we shouldn’t discount. For example, I’ve been working on my Marv Wolfman list, and was amazed that he is credited with co-creating Tim Drake, New Teen Titans (not just putting the team together, but also co-creating Cyborg, Raven and Starfire), Bullseye, Deathstroke, and Felicia Hardy. Those are some awesome, long-running characters. And he created some other, more minor but still kick ass characters, like Terrax (my personal favorite Herald of Galactus).

Wolfman also created Nova.

Ya, Wolfman is another one of the guys who gets eclipsed by Kirby, Moore, Lee, and Ditko. Claremont is another guy who created a lot more than people realize, simply because he did basically all of it within the pages of Uncanny X-Men, so he doesn’t necessarily feel like as much of a creative genius as a guy who has done tons of different franchises.

While I expected it to make the top ten, I’m another person surprised GS X-Men made no. 1. But I did find the story fun as well as significant.

I also expected Batman/Hulk to make the top ten.

I’m glad that Green Goblin story made it, though.

And I didn’t know he wrote that FF story! That’s a good one too! (and some fine Perez art to boot!)

“Wolfman also created Nova.”

Created, or mixed a dash of Green Lantern with a pinch of Spider-Man?

I don’t think Hulk vs Wolverine was any better than a lot of Wein’s other Hulk stories. I want to push (I pushed it on the best Thor site) the intro of the Time Twisters, art by Buscema /Sinnott.

Wow, I always forget how much good stuff Wein worked on. The Untold Legend of the Batman is my favourite Batman story ever (I had copies of it from Zellers that included audiotapes, issue two still has cupcake icing on it from when I was eight).

funkygreenjerusalem

May 17, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Did Claremont have any involvement with Giant sized X-Men No.1?

Shoot. I was gonna vote for this one, then I got busy writing something else.

But, then again, it might have been too hard to decide which Stegron the Dinosaur Man story would be at # 1, and which would be at # 2.

Did Claremont have any involvement with Giant sized X-Men No.1?

No.

@Dunbar: And the FF was just the Challengers of the Unknown with super powers, and Dr. Strange was just a Vincent Price character, and the X-Men were just a naturally occurring Doom Patrol, and Wolverine was just Beast with claws, and The Hulk was just Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the list could go on. Most great ideas bare some resemblance to others. It’s the nature of creativity and the human mind.

Wow, I never knew that ASM #153 was so highly regarded — I have a really old locally printed copy of it here in the Philippines. It was one of the first comics I ever read.

For me, Wein peaked with the Phantom Stranger, Swamp Thing and Justice League stuff; after he went to Marvel, it was like he transformed into a different writer and never changed back.

I thought his Human Target stories from the 70s were pretty good, too…

Scott Rowland

May 18, 2010 at 7:43 am

My votes were:

My top ten Len Wein stories:

1 Justice league of America 100-102, The return of the Seven Soldiers of Victory

2 Blue Beetle 8 – this is the one that dealt with a petty crook trying to go straight. Great story.

3 Hulk 179 (I think) the missing Link Story — Wein really could pull those heartstrings

4 Justice League 114 (Anakronus Story) – This was the story of a villain named Anakronus taking Snapper Carr Hostage to get revenge on the League. The catch was, Snapper didn’t remember who he was . . .

5 Hulk 190 (I think) The blind Girl story – Again, Wein was great at writing an emotional story, and he did the best child-like Hulk ever. I suspect that voting will be scattershot on his Hulk stories, since he didn’t really tend to write in story arcs. But his Hulk run deserves to be remembered for more than the introduction of Wolverine.

6 Batman – Selina Kyle story 321-324 – Just a fun Batman story, with some mysteries and twists and turns. Wein was the first to make Catwoman a real romantic interest for Batman instead of just a flirting relationship.

7. Defenders 13-14 – The introduction of Nebulon and the transformation of Nighthawk into a superhero, giving the Marvel Universe a long-lasting second string hero, and setting the stage for one of Steve Gerber’s most fondly-remembered Defenders stories.

8. Defenders 15-16 – I just like the Defenders versus Magneto.

9. X-Men Giant-Size 1 – More on the list for what he set in motion, than for the value of the story by itself. Although Chris Claremont certainly took the ball and ran with it, I’d have loved to read more X-Men by Wein.

10 House of Secrets 92 original swamp Thing story

I can’t believe I totally forgot his Phantom Stranger and Deadman runs! had I recalled them, I would probably have dropped Giant-Size X-Men 1 in favor of the Deadman sequence, and Defenders 15-16 for Phantom Stranger 17 that introduced Cassandra Craft (and that really should be included as part of the Dark Circle story).

[…] Comics Should be Good: The Greatest Len Wein Stories Ever Told! […]

I must say that I am pleasantly surprised to find the Phantom Stranger cracking the top 10. That storyline was tops!

ArrestThisMan

May 20, 2010 at 1:25 am

Wow, just read ASM #153 the other day, for the first time. It was fantastic and I got it (a rough copy) for $1! Thanks C2E2!.

Didn’t know about Amazing Spider-Man # 153 or the Phantom Stranger arc ! Going to remember those.

Yes, that Green Goblin story was great. Haven’t read it for 30 years now. Ditto for that Molecule Man FF.

Wein had a really strong Batman run in the late 70’s / early 80’s too. I remember loving his Ra’s al Ghul.

The Jarella run in Hulk was one of my all time favs.

Very surprised but completely agree with those 3 issues of DC Comics Presents. I’ve never heard anyone else really talk about them but that intro of Mongul and Warworld was incredible and played perfectly to Starlin’s strengths.

I loved the Ross Andru Spider-man issues. Phenomenal Spidey artist.

yay Dark Circle saga– I was afraid I’d be the only person to vote for it!

Considering Wein co-created the new X-Men and then got Claremont to write it, and he co-created Swamp Thing and then got Moore to write it, and it could certainly be argued that Claremont’s X-Men is the most influential super-hero run of the post-Silver Age, and Moore’s Swamp Thing could be argued as the most influential non-super-hero run of the post Silver-Age… well, what would the modern landscape of comics look like without Len Wein? In a roundabout way, both the X-Men franchises and Vertigo may well not really exist. You could certainly say that Wein made (arguably) the two most important hiring decisions of the last 40 years. Shooter as EIC, Quesada as EIC, McFarlane as Spider-Man artist, Frank Miller on DD, Karen Berger as Swamp Thing editor, Wolfman/Perez on Titans/Crisis, Didio as the guy who killed DC… all those were certainly important, but have any really had the complete impact as Claremont on X-Men and Moore on Swamp Thing? I say no.

I’m a huge fan of the X-men appearances during the time between teams (after X-men #66 and before Giant Size X-men #1). I love seeing how those creators kept the characters alive during this period. I did some research on the various storylines that linked some of these issues and there’s one in particular I have a theory about but would like to get confirmation from Len Wein himself, or someone in the know…

Secret Mission- unknown?
1974 Marvel Team-Up #23
1974 Defenders #15
In these issues, references are made to a “secret mission” the X-men have been tasked with, but this occurred after the Secret Empire was defeated in Captain America #175. The question then becomes WHAT was this secret mission?!? This next part kind of blew my mind a little…these two issues, Marvel Team-Up #23 and Defenders #15 were both written by none other than Len Wien- the man who only a few months later would bring us Hulk #181 and Giant-Size X-men #1! It’s apparent from comments made in GSX #1 that the Professor knew of Wolverine and had been keeping tabs on him, so my guess is this secret mission was to enlist him in the X-men. Unfortunately before the X-men could reach out to him, they received a new mutant alert from Cerebro that resulted in their defeat and capture by Krokoa. As a result, Professor X was left to gather a whole new team on his own that included Wolverine. Pretty cool to think Len was laying the groundwork for the new team in these issues and we didn’t even know it!

What about the Wein/Buscema/Sinnott issues of Thor that introduced the Time Twisters? They were brilliant.

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