KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Comic book writer and editor Len Wein has died. He helped create a lot of famous characters during his nearly 50-year career.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Like Storm, the white-haired X-Man who controls the weather.
MCEVERS: Human-plant hybrid Swamp Thing.
SHAPIRO: And most notably...
(SOUNDBITE OF METAL CLANGING)
SHAPIRO: ...A ferocious Canadian mutant with long metal claws.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE WOLVERINE")
HIROYUKI SANADA: (As Shingen) What kind of monster are you?
HUGH JACKMAN: (As Logan) The Wolverine.
SHAPIRO: Wolverine first appeared in 1974 in an issue of "The Incredible Hulk."
EVAN NARCISSE: And he was kind of a bruiser.
MCEVERS: Evan Narcisse writes about comics for the website io9. He says Len Weins' Wolverine was a change from the straight-laced heroes of the time.
NARCISSE: He was coarse. He was rowdy. He was impolite. That was a really big breath of fresh air.
SHAPIRO: In 1975, Wein and artist Dave Cockrum revamped Marvel's X-Men. They added Wolverine to the team, and the rest is pop culture history.
MCEVERS: And that's not all Wein did.
NARCISSE: He edited "Watchmen," which is one of the most important superhero comics of the 20th century.
MCEVERS: The series was published by DC Comics in the late '80s. And it was different - darker, more philosophical. "Watchmen" set a serious tone for comic books.
SHAPIRO: And Wein played a big part in that.
NARCISSE: He was always looking for the humanity in these over-the-top absurdist paradigms of superhero work. Like, he was trying to find, how can these characters be relatable to readers?
SHAPIRO: Narcisse says that's part of Wein's legacy. His characters may have had superpowers, but they also grappled with self-doubt and failure.
MCEVERS: Comic book writer and editor Len Wein died yesterday. He was 69.
(SOUNDBITE OF KABLE SONG, "MISSION FAILER - OUTRO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.