Nerd Culture

12 Must-See Phoenix Comicon Guests

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Chris Claremont

If you've enjoyed any bit of the X-Men canon over the last three decades or so -- be it the well-remembered FOX cartoon of the '90s, the cinematic adaptations (save for that awful Wolverine one), or the actual comics themselves -- then be sure to thank Chris Claremont if you interact with the him during Phoenix Comicon. The esteemed scribe, who spent most of his lengthy career in the comics biz working for Marvel, is one of few in the company's famed bullpen who helped reinvigorate the franchise, particularly during his 16-year run on The Uncanny X-Men.

Claremont helped breathe new life into the adventures of Professor X and company in the mid-1970s when he introduced more complex and cerebral characterizations, helped create some of the X-Men's more iconic mutants, and crafted its most popular and memorable storylines -- like "The Dark Phoenix Saga," "God Loves, Man Kills," and "Days of Future Past." And if any of those tales sound familiar, it's because they formed the basis of most of the X-Men movie series, including the latest blockbuster flick that hit theatres a few weekends ago.

Len Wein

And Claremont got his gig on The Uncanny X-Men thanks to the astuteness and prudence of Len Wein, who happened to be Marvel's editor-in-chief in that era and gave the young writer a shot. Along with legendary comics artist Dave Cockrum, Wein had already helped revive the X-Men in 1975 after a lengthy hiatus away from newsstands a few months prior before bringing in Claremont. It's one of many influential efforts that Wein is responsible for during his time at Marvel, not the least of which came in 1974 when he helped create arguably the greatest mutant superhero of all time: Weapon-X, better known to millions as Wolverine.

Fittingly, Wein is scheduled to co-star at a panel devoted to the adamantium-clawed berserker along with Claremont that's entitled "Wolverine: The Most Dangerous Mutant" on Saturday at noon during Phoenix Comicon that will likely cover everything from the character's origins in an issue of the Incredible Hulk to Hugh Jackman's interpretation of the character on the silver screen. (Wein will also be a part of a separate panel later that evening celebrating Batman's 75th anniversary due to his late '70s tenure at DC Comics writing for the Dark Knight.)

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.