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Robot 6: Wein and cheese

posted Jan 27, 2009, 9:41 AM by Vu Sleeper

Wein and cheese
Posted on January 27, 2009 - 09:00 AM by Tom Bondurant

Len Wein is becoming something of a go-to writer for DC Comics’ superhero flashbacks. After retelling the origin of Libra (a character he created for May/June 1974’s Justice League of America vol. 1 #111) in the recent Final Crisis Secret Files, last week’s comics featured two similarly-styled issues written by the comics veteran. Justice League of America vol. 2 #29, drawn by ChrisCross, was a condensed version of three 1972 issues which introduced Starbreaker, the cosmic vampire*; and it prefaces next month’s new Starbreaker story. Meanwhile, Superman/Batman Annual #3, penciled by Chris Batista and inked by Mick Gray and Jack Jadson, continued the S/B Annuals’ pattern of backwards-looking tales by revising the origin of the Composite Superman.

(SPOILERS FOLLOW for these issues and the original stories which inspired them.)

While I’m not opposed to this kind of revisionist-nostalgia approach — I’d rather revisit a status quo through a flashback than roll back to it through convoluted continuity gymnastics — I have been surprised at just how deliberately retro these stories are. Len Wein didn’t (and doesn’t) go for the sort of wildly-over-the-top plots and dialogue which inspire bloggers to create gleeful retrospectives (see, e.g., Bob Haney).

Instead, his bio is full of enjoyable, entertaining, solidly-constructed stories which look very impressive in the aggregate. Here’s a partial list of his credits, off the top of my head: co-creator of Swamp Thing, Wolverine, and the initial batch of “all-new, all-different” X-Men; editor of the Batman titles, New Teen Titans, Crisis On Infinite Earths, and Watchmen; writer of Justice League of America, Incredible Hulk, Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, multiple incarnations of Star Trek comics, and the late-‘80s Blue Beetle revival; and scripter of George Perez’s Wonder Woman revival. He and Walt Simonson also produced one of my favorite Batman stories, “Once Upon A Time” from Detective Comics #500. I am always glad to see Mr. Wein’s name in the credit box.

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