Hank McCoy ought to be the poster child for mutants. As created by stalwarts Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in  X-MEN #1 in 1963, Beast was a hirsute, agile man, with oversize hands and feet, but recognizably human. His brutish exterior  was at odds with his eloquent, erudite manner and genius intellect. Seeking the genetic cause of human mutation, Beast transformed himself into a blue-furred, apelike creature (courtesy of writer Gerry Conway and artist Tom Sutton. He also got a great Gil Kane cover out of it!). He could no longer hide his mutation from the world.

More gray than blue on this great Gil Kane cover. And more people need to work “lo” into sentences.

Far from withdrawing from society, Hank became a celebrated member of the  Avengers and continued his work as a scientist. He was a quirky, verbose, well-adjusted guy. Years passed and Hank mutated once again. This time the mutagen was writer Grant Morrison’s mind.

Morrison and artist Frank Quitely redesigned the X-Men for the 21st Century beginning with NEW X-MEN #114. “Increased sunspot activity” was blamed for secondary mutations around the world, and Beast was now a blue-furred, catlike humanoid who felt “like a Hindu sex god.”  While rebuffing an ex-girlfriend, he also alluded to being gay, a revelation which was hastily retracted by Hank himself a few issues later (I’ve always suspected the change was mandated by Marvel’s management, who realized Beast action figures were sold at Walmarts around the country and feared a conservative backlash). Hank’s shifting orientation was not as controversial as his shifting appearance. Although many embraced his leonine look, which he has to this day, others wished for a return to his earlier, more apelike appearance.

I like both looks. My guess is that Quitely was inspired by Jean Cocteau’s Beast in La Belle et la Bête. I went with this version because I haven’t seen it represented in 3D as often.

With luck, you’ll be back for another edition of MIGHTY MARVEL MAY tomorrow!


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