Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Discuss: The Beast


Edo Bosnar said...

I like him; to me, he's a real mainstay of the Marvel Universe, and generally an interesting and fun character. And my preferred version is the one I first saw when I started reading comics: the blue-furred wisecracker in the Avengers. I really don't like this newer look, with the feline or bearish snout.
Another thing I really liked that was eventually tossed by the wayside was his odd-couplesque friendship with Wonder Man.

William said...

I'm with Edo, (and probably most others on here) I liked the blue furry wisecracker Beast from the Avengers era.

That's who he was when I was introduced to him as a character. And that's how I most remember him. In fact, I didn't even know he'd ever been an X-Men for at least a couple of years after I first saw him.

And "Oh my stars and garters!" is one of the best catch phrases in comics

Humanbelly said...

Always loved him. And I think he's a great example of how some characters really do take on an almost-independent life of their own, beyond the writers' ability to fully control. IIRC, Stan quickly shifted his personality (like, in issue #2 or 3 of the original X-MEN run) from that of the predictable, cliched, slow-minded muscle man to the hilariously erudite (and verbose) intellectual polymath that won all of our hearts-- the fellow who would never use a two syllable word when a six-syllable one would suffice. And yet, even though his appearance transformed entirely over the course of his AMAZING ADVENTURES series- which came with a Spidey-like releasing of his inner wiseacre- there's just never been any sense of him being a "ruined" character. . . or even a different character at all. I've always, always loved the fact that this was handled as logical, cause & effect growth of this character over the course of time. One of the strengths of his short-lived feature was that it pretty much dealt with portraying that transition so effectively. The highpoint, to me, was the issue where he and Warren cross paths while battling the Griffin. The moment of recognition, though brief, has always stuck with me-- one of those "here's how it's all connected!" moments.

O'course, once we get to some incomprehensible idiocy w/ "Dark Beasts", and then that dreadful further mutation to "Cat Beast", I think we've run out of writers who actually had a handle on Hank's character at all, or his history. He turned into basically a cliche' of himself: the scary-looking guy who uses incongruously elevated language. But no depth.

I guess I maybe "get" why someone decided to further transform him into a more indentifiably specific beast-like creature-- after all, there's really no such thing as a generic "Beast". It was awfully hard to pin down what sort of creature he was derived from-- Simian? Canine? Ursine? Feline? He's obviously still a mammal, and he theoretically got that way via "scientific" manipulation, so it's gotta be something that makes at least a teensy bit of sense. . .


david_b said...

Again, I'm in the minority here on ol' Hank, but I didn't like him as an Avenger early on.

To me, coming back to the A-team after ish 129 with the likes of Swordsman, the Pyms, Captain America, Black Knight, Hawkeye, T'Challa, etc, Hank didn't fit the general mold of Avengers to me.

Seeing Hank on the covers of the issues around 130-150 (and some lousy art..) actually kept me away from the Avengers. When I saw the Kirby cover on ish 150 and Big John doing interior art on 151, I started collecting for another 20some issues.

As for wise-crackin' Avengers, I greatly preferred Hawkeye.

Years later I collected the later issues (170 and up..) as back issues and I did grow to enjoy his relationship with Wondy.

david_b said...

Y'know, I believe HB hit on it better than I... (which is often true..).

"Hank didn't seem to have any depth."

J.A. Morris said...

I happened to discover both incarnations around the same time. I read early X-men stories in 'Amazing Adventures' reprints (not the series that featured Beast in the early 70s) and the blue furry Beast was in the Avengers. I've always preferred the later version and I'm also fan of the Beast/Wonder Man pairing.

WardHillTerry said...

Like Edo, HB and many of us I'm sure, I first read about Hank as the furry blue Avenger. I was lucky in that one of my earliest Avengers comics had his backstory in it. I've always liked the way Steve Englehart developed Hank, especially his voice. Stan Lee's Beast certainly was erudite and loquacious, but Steve brought it further along. I contend that you could read just the word balloons and know which ones belonged to Hank McCoy. Subsequent Avengers writers Gerry Conway, Jim Shooter, and David Michelinie kept it going, while giving Hank some pathos. Some of lines have always stuck with me. "We're in Charlie Attuma's sub. How did we get in? Verr--ry carefully!" "I refuse to be dangled by an extra-terrestrial version of Hoss Cartwright!" "This ball and chain will make a swell trophy for--ugh--for--ugh...someone else."

Humanbelly said...

Ohhh I'm a bit on the older side of the curve, WTH-- The Bouncing Beast was an original X-Man first for me. The first issue I ever came across, in fact, was #46-- after they'd switched to their very colorful "mod" uniforms. And very shortly after that I got to read several earlier issues as well as most of the Adams run. So my first reaction at seeing Amazing Adventures #11 was the usual "Omigod their gonna RUIN one of my favorite characters!! Why? WHY??" But, in spite of some TRULY jaw-dropping (but typical) secret-identity stretches, that series was so enjoyable and engaging-- and then just abruptly ended.

And the X-Men, of course, were MIA at that point. So Hank's story kind of wrapped up in Incredible Hulk ("The Title Where Canceled Books Go To Die"), and then limbo. I was deee-lighted to see him become an Avenger, and I especially liked the inter-mural Marvel Universe aspect of it. Why the heck couldn't a former X-Man become an Avenger?

The only complaint I have about it is that, although his personality was such a hoot of an addition (and he and Hawkeye are different enough that I don't see them in an over-lapping dynamic), his value as a superhero was almost criminally neglected. If you read through his initial term of membership back-to-back, it becomes almost an unintentional running gag with Hank being taken out of action right at the beginning of every single battle. He gets cold-cocked, he gets gassed, he gets literally thrown into the distance (more than once, IIRC), he gets trapped--- heck, Aunt May had a better slug-fest track record. . .


Pat Henry said...

Beast seemed an odd pairing with the Avengers in that era, but he served well to puncture a lot of the fussy and stuffy cosmic storylines that were unflolding in that era with folks like Mar-vell and Moondragon. He always seemed like the sort of fella who could get uproariously indignant about how he smelled wet and how long it took him to tumble dry in humid conditions.

Martinex1 said...

I agree with most everything said. The blue furry Beast from his Avenging days was my favorite. I really see the Beast as a really well developed character. He was very "real" in his overlapping intelligence, humor, and pathos. I look at Avengers 164 (the start of the Nefaria saga) as a perfect issue for the Beast. He is a genius but when surrounded by Pym, Stark, and others he feels neglected. He pities himself, but after a walk and interaction with people on the street he bounces back (so to speak). He becomes his jovial joking self and doesn't bask in his stress or have issues with his appearance. He is charming. He fights admirably, loses often, but keeps coming back for more and keeps trying to help. He has a long and storied history; he knows almost everybody in the Marvel universe. For me he was a lot like the Thing - but in my opinion funnier. I don't like some of the modern take on him (as identified above) when he is written like a furry Reed Richards. His sense of humor and limitations make him much more interesting than Reed - who can be a bit one note. And the Beast's entire personality is not just large words - it is the fun he has with language, his quips, his intelligence laced with quick-wittedness. Even his catch phrases have a history and well-read aspect to them. In the good ol' days he enjoyed super-heroing and that in and of itself is woefully missing today.

dbutler16 said...

I like Hank McCoy, too, and also prefer the wisecracking blue ape from the Avengers (He's part of the Avengers team from when I started collecting comics), though I do think he perhaps cracked a bit too wise, and wasn't taken seriously by either the Avengers or the writers (he's a super-genius, right?).

I also have a soft spot for the original Hank, with no fur at all. Marvel Triple Action #45-46 (reprinting X-Men #45 & Avengers #53) were among my first comics, and got me to start hunting down Silver Age X-Men comics, so the un-mutated Beast is a big part of my youth.

As William said, "Oh my stars and garters!" is one of my favorite quotes, but another McCoyism I love (from his un-hairy 60's era) is "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent).

Anonymous said...

Beast is probably in my top 5 all-time....somewhere with Cap, Hawkeye, Hercules, and Thing....

He was one of the best choices to join the Avengers, and really the best thing going for the New Defenders!

I like the blue, furry, Avengers/Defenders era Beast, (I can't STAND the cat-Beast, the jacketed look from the Morrison-era X-men and movies, and the new look Beast-with-a-haircut look).
As far as his non-furry costumes, I like the original X-men "uniform", and one he briefly wore in early X-factor that was brownish-red with a big yellow X across it.

Beast TRULY is one of the characters that got me hooked on comics, I remember really liking how he interacted with a one-time Avengers crew in Avengers #239(the Letterman issue).


Anonymous said...

As I see Hank McCoy from back in the day, it appears that Stan Lee first created him as a teenage Ben Grimm/Thing for his new group. And it was a few issues into the X-Men that they decided to make the brawn the brain. For someone who was supposed to have been the muscle, I never got the sense he was super-strong. My first introduction to the X-Men was Giant Size X-Men which was a reprint of the Sentinels storyline. I was hooked. It was only later that I connected the dots that Hank McCoy in the X-Men was Hank McCoy in the Avengers. But anyhoo, I digress. The final character of Hank McCoy, okay, final for me, was far far different from the original guy. Yes, he was smart, scientist smart, and he was strong, more so than your normal man strong, like Stark, a ladies man, like Simon Williams, craving the spotlight. I like/liked the guy. But in the end, what was his impact. Stark gave us "transistorized power", Pym, his particles and Ultron, Richards unstable molecules, Parker, dissolving webfluid but what did McCoy do?

There was so much to The Beast that I liked but I get that he's like cotton candy. Something you really enjoy but doesn't make a huge impact after it's gone.

The Prowler (I seen you around for a long long time, I really remembered you when you drink my wine.....Sometimes I don't speak right but yet I know what I'm talking about).

Dr. Oyola said...

Like everyone else here, I prefer Beast as the blue wise-crackin' Avenger(where I saw him first), and like Edo I really loved his friendship with Wonderman.

When, back in the early 00s, Grant Morrison played around with having Beast come out of the closet, I was like YES! It made perfect sense to me. But then he backed away from it and pulled a "just kidding!" Feh.

I have to say that was the last appearance of Beast I really liked (well, I guess he was okay in Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, to), but I prefer him as an Avenger to an X-Man.

Anonymous said...

Like Humanbelly, my favourite version of the Beast is the human looking one from his earliest days in the original X-men. It was a hoot to see someone with an ape's physique coupled with a genius intellect and vocabulary to match. Stan himself said that he found it interesting to have a character with such contrasting attributes. The modern day equivalent would probably be Nightcrawler, having a demonic appearance but a monk's spiritual side.

To be quite honest, I've never really been a fan of Hank while he was in the Avengers. Sure, it was occasionally fun to see him toss some quips at his fellow team members, but somehow I always felt he was underutilized chracterwise. Like HB said, he always seemed to be taken out of the action too early. Also, while the blue and furry version was a nice change, he seemed to be dumbed down in the Avengers, on some occasions he was like a more chipper version of Hawkeye.

I would love it if they made a stand alone film with the Beast; dunno about you guys, but while I love the Wolverine character as much as the next fanboy, I really don't want to see another film starring Logan.

- Mike ''twas not beauty but writer apathy that killed the beast' from Trinidad & Tobago.

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