Len Wein Talks JLA Two-Parter

CBR News conducted the following interview with Len Wein about his upcoming run on "Justice League of America" 48 hours before most of his home was destroyed by a fire. While Wein and his family escaped without injury, their dog Sheba perished in the flames.

Wein's collection of books, toys, games and artwork were also destroyed, and now noted comics historian and writer Mark Evanier is leading an effort to restore the lost treasures. For more information on the "Let's Rebuild Len Wein's Comic Book Collection," please visit http://www.povonline.com/weinproject.htm

As longtime comics readers know, Len Wein co-created Wolverine for Marvel Comics and Swamp Thing and The Human Target for DC Comics. A former Editor-in-Chief at Marvel, Wein also served as editor for "Watchmen" while at DC in the late eighties.

Running in the pages of DC's "Justice League of America" #34-35 in June and July, Wein's latest story features art by Jose Luis and JP Mayer in the first part, and Eddy Barrows and Ruy Jose in the second. Covers are by Ed Benes and Rob Hunter.

CBR News spoke to Wein about the project.

CBR: Len, you wrote a critically acclaimed run on "Justice League of America" in the early seventies, from issues #100 to #112. Has the JLA's role changed much in the DC Universe over the past four decades?

Len Wein: I don't think so. It's still the place for the best and brightest in the DCU to gather for terrific stories.

What makes the JLA so important to the DCU?

Just the sheer weight of its membership and the fact that they tackle the biggest threats to the DCU, I suppose.

Why do you think readers love team books? And specifically, the JLA?

Well, I think the ad for the very first issue says it all. "Just imagine... all your favorite heroes in one adventure together." It doesn't get much cooler than that. Also, as a new reader, you get a chance to sample a whole lot of different heroes, before deciding to try them in their own titles.

As a kid, I remember the first Edgar Rice Burroughs book I bought was "Tarzan at the Earth's Core" because it allowed me to sample two of ERB's series for the price of one.

What was your favorite story during that original 1970s' run on "Justice League of America?"

I think it would have to be that first three-parter I wrote, "The Unknown Soldier of Victory." I got to write every member of the JLA as well all the Seven Soldiers of Victory, and sort of set the new standard for annual team-ups after that. Plus, the story had a strong emotional core, which I always really prefer. That, and the Rutland story which co-starred me and my then-wife and Gerry Conway and Steve Englehart. Hey, ego has to count for something.

Do you have a favorite JLAer from that era?

Obviously, I seem to have kind of a soft spot for the Red Tornado, though I always loved writing the Green Arrow/Hawkman feud as well. Beyond that, Batman is my favorite. Always was, always will be.

What about today's team? Do you have a favorite member? What do you love about him or her?

At the moment, there really isn't much of a team, though I do like Zatanna and Firestorm. I'm also bringing back one of my favorite characters, Plastic Man, just because I can.

Is Plastic Man joining the team as a permanent member?

He's been a member on and off for years, but for right now, he's just part of my storyline.

What else can you tell us about your upcoming two-parter?

Well, it features a new take on the old Royal Flush Gang, plus a mystery villain who's getting an even bigger makeover. That's really all I'm allowed to say at the moment.

DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio has recently said that with Dwayne McDuffie's busy schedule in TV writing, he will need to take time off between major arcs. Does that mean we will see more Len Wein in the future on "Justice League of America?"

God, I sure hope so. "Justice League of America" has always been one of my favorite books, and it's been great to get a chance to come home again.

You've created many classic comics characters over the years - Wolverine, Swamp Thing, Human Target, the list goes on. Do you have a favorite? Why?

That's much like asking a mother if she has a favorite child. I love all my creations, in different ways, for different reasons. All I can say is that I've been incredibly blessed over the years to see how they've grown.

What else are you working on these days?

Well, I wrote the "Watchman" video game "Watchmen: The End is Nigh,'" which is available for download on a lot of different platforms. I've got a new issue of "The Simpsons" coming out in May. Speaking of Dwayne, I'm writing episodes of the "Ben 10" animated series for him, which has been incredibly gratifying and a lot of fun.

I'm also writing a bunch of two-page origins of various DC heroes for the DC Online website, and I've got several exciting new projects in the works with DC that I'm afraid it's way too early to talk about just yet. But, trust me, they will blow you away.

"Justice League of America" #34 goes on sale June 24 while #35 is expected July 29.

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