Stars & Garters

In honor of Hank Month, I throught I'd write up some fun facts about everyone's favorite, blue furry scientist. This is part one-- the Early Years. It may be followed by more parts, depending on how wicked my homework is over the next few weeks. Hope you enjoy it, and feel free to add to, correct, or just plain discuss!

Henry Phillip McCoy was first introduced in X-MEN #1, published in 1963, by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. His spoken line was "The Beast is here, sir!"

His not-so-amazing origin was first revealed in X-MEN #15 (making the first X-Man, after Prof. X to get an origin), after Mastermold captured Hank, drugged him, and forced him to tell him his origin. Note: It was the sixties. People didn't know what a deus ex machina was. Two issues previous, Professor Xavier took about two hours to reveal Juggernaut's origins while he was attacking the house. Anyway, Hank apparently had his abilities from birth -- there is a flashback of him at about age 8 being confronted by some bullies and jumping over a car. Apparently, much like Professor Xavier's father, Mr. McCoy worked at some nuclear testing plant, which resulted in Hank's mutation. Shortly thereafter, Stan and Jack realized that it just wasn't feasible for everyone's dads to have worked in power plants, and they stopped trying to explain where mutations came from. Anyway, Hank grew up, and got a football scholarship, earning the nickname Beast. Unfortunately, people began to question his amazing agility. Xavier found out about this, using the ultra-sophistic tactic of reading the newspaper. Evidentally, Xavier went to the same school as Hank, because he's shown reading an "Extra!" edition of "Alumni News." Anyway, Xavier went to go talk to him, and the rest, as they say is history. Now, I believe that later, there was some kind of plot added in about a bad guy named el Conquistador, but I think we'll all be happier if we pretend that didn't happen.

The long running friendship of Hank and Bobby was first introduced in X-MEN #7, where after "graduating" from school, the two head off to Greenwich Village together, because Bobby knows the "coolest little coffee shop" with "the dreamiest waitress!" Yes, folks, he's referring to the infamous Coffee-a-Go-Go, home of Bernard the Poet and Zelda, the "dreamiest waitress." Since then, Beast and Iceman have always been portrayed as best friends, constantly going out together, saving each other, and just joking around. In a later issue, Hank allows Bobby and Zelda to hook him up on a blind date with Zelda's friend, Vera Cantor. Vera stayed Hank's girlfriend for several decades, even into the beginning issues of X-FACTOR (although she did swear she was breaking up with him in NEW DEFENDERS...) Unfortunately, though Vera is one of the longest-running supporting characters in the X-Men genre, she is often forgotten by most fans.

One of the most interesting of Hank's distinctions is that he was the first X-Men to be "hated and feared." Hank and Bobby were out in town, when Beast rescued a small child who, for reasons I am completely incapable of fathoming, was stranded on top of a water tower. The crowd reacted angrily, attacking the two X-Men. Outraged, Hank quit the X-Men, with the famous line "I'm through risking my life for humans ... for the same humans who fear us, hate us and want to destroy us!" Yes, folks. Hank started it. Oh, for the curious, after quitted the X-Men, despite pursuing the obvious (i.e. getting a job somewhere, seeing as he's a freaking genius...) Hank decided to become a pro wrestler under the name of ... you guessed it ... "the Beast." Then, he went up against a certain wrestler named Unus the Untouchable. (If you know who this dude is, I'm sure you're already groaning and throwing things at your computer screen.) Unus was also a mutant who was one of the early X-Men's regular adversaries. You young'uns may have seen his daughter Unuscione as one of Magneto's Acolytes (the girl with the green glowing exoskeleton). Of course, even that was about ... ack, six or seven years ago. To make a long story short, Hank rejoined the X-Men after defeating Unus.