Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Groovy Agent's Birthday Comics, Part 1

Ol' Groove's hitting the big four-five on the 26th, so I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane and check out the comics Lil Groove got for various birthdays back during the Groovy Age. Yeah, I made sure I got at least one for each birthday beginning with...

1972: Amazing Adventures #15, featuring the Beast! Ah, Steve Englehart and Tom Sutton's Beast series! What a cool series that was. Believe it or not, Young Grasshopper, there was a time when the X-Men weren't the cornerstone of the Marvel Universe. Heck, they weren't really all that important or popular. In fact, their comic was strictly reprints! There were enough vocal fans (as well as professional fans), though, to keep the X-Men from saying "goodnight" to John Boy, and this series, running in Amazing Adventures issues 11-17, was one way of keeping the Merry Mutants alive and kicking.

Hank McCoy, charter member of the original X-Men, graduated from Xavier's Academy and went to work for the Brand Corporation (Marvel's major evil corporation of the 70s). McCoy's pet project was to create a potion that would rid mutants of their super-powers (shades of X3!), and naturally, when he had a breakthrough, he had to try it out on himself. And, since Marvel felt he needed some jazzing up to make him a solo-star, the potion mutated Mrs. McCoy's baby boy even further than his big hands and feet; Hank found himself covered with fur, sporting fangs, and hunched over like a...well...Beast!

The series was far-out and fun, with Englehart seeming to have free reign to play with, not only the X-Men cast, but other gone-but-not-forgotten Marvel characters like girl/humor comic star Patsy Walker and her boyfriend (now husband) Buzz Baxter, both of whom were quite prominent in this particular issue as Patsy had figured out that Hank and the Beast were one and the same person. (Up until that time, Hank disguised himself with a rubber mask and gloves, leading to some funny moments showing how lame the disguise he had concocted truly was). The biggest event of the issue (besides the introduction of the Griffin, who should have been a primo villain but never seemed to be taken seriously. Maybe because his alter ego was named after country music star, Johnny Horton, everyone thought he was a turkey) was the Beast's previously gray fur turning blue due to continuing mutation. Man, when a Marvel scientist blows it, he really blows it!

The series only lasted three more issues (the third being a reprint of his origin from the old X-Men comic), but as soon as Englehart got the chance, he worked the Beast into the Avengers line-up (issue #137) where Hank took on a more flippant, jokester attitude (rather than the big-word spouting nerd of the X-Men days). The Beast proved extremely popular in the Avengers, holding membership there until the end of the Groovy Age. I guess ol' Hank was just meant to be a team player.

1 comment:

  1. One of my most favorite comics as a kid; I remember buying this ish of Amazing Adventures on a street corner newsstand in downtown Montreal.Our family was there for a funeral, it was August,it was hot + humid.We left the funeral home,went for a stroll and came across the stand selling comic books in English.I was a happy boy!Loved the Beast even more,ever since!

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