Faces of the Beast: The Changing Look of Hank McCoy
In the current arc of All New X-Men, the team’s resident big brain Hank McCoy uses his time machine (hey, Henry, could you have mentioned you had that before?) to bring his past self to the present day (in apparent violation of Marvel’s own time travel rules, but rules are totally boresville), to brainstorm a cure for his chronic MacGuffinism (a serious medical condition that inspires really smart people to do implausible things that get plots rolling; Reed Richards is suffering a similar affliction). Consequently, the Beast has mutated. Again. Again again.
To mark this latest evolution in the appearance of the modern-day Madonna of mutants, ComicsAlliance looks back at some of the previous faces of Hank McCoy.
Hank McCoy (1963)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Hank started out as a distinctly ’60s preppy kid with more than a hint of ape. He was a bulky, bookish boy who looked mostly human but for his giant hands and feet. As a gifted science student and a star football player, he was half nerd and half jock, and he would often beat himself up about it.
Gray Beast (1972)
Hank used a delicious “extract of mutant” to disguise himself while investigating an evil scientist, and what could be a better disguise than to cover your entire body in thick grey shag? “Say, is that old Hank over there? Oh no, that’s a huge and terrifying ape with enormous fangs. Say, Jeannie, do you want to go grab a malted?” This otherwise brilliant ruse had an unfortunate flaw, in that Hank could not actually take the disguise off.
Blue Beast (1972)
This is the look most people think of as “classic” Beast; the blue devil look with hair styled in homage to Wanda Maximoff’s terrible hat. This is the look fans want Hank to go back to. If only Hank would go back to this look, no-one would ever complain about change in comics again and everything would be fine. Geez, comics, why are you so mean? Stagnate more already!
Stupid Beast (1987)
For a little while Hank returned to human form, but he contracted a virus, because although he is a doctor, Hank apparently spends a lot of time licking money he finds in the street. The virus simultaneously made Hank stronger and stupider. Like beer! The only cure for Hank’s condition was reupholstery, so he blue himself again.
Dark Beast (1995)
Dark Beast is not our world’s Hank McCoy, but the evil Hank from the Age of Apocalypse universe. He replaced our Hank for a while and dyed his fur to match, at which point he was presumably Dark Blue Beast.
Fish Beast (1999)
Another other-dimensional Beast. This one was mutated into an amphibian thing with demonic goat legs, because there is an infinite number of universes and sometimes you land in a really silly one.
Another other-dimensional Beast. OK, it’s not on-the-record, but ever since Disney bought Marvel I’m pretty sure it’s in continuity.
Cat Beast (2001)
“Secondary mutation” was the tenuous in-story explanation for Beast’s reinvention as a burly Thundercat, but it was really just Grant Morrison marking his territory. The trouble with Cat Beast is that his every change of expression tended to look like a new Cheezburger meme. Vis:
Did John Cassaday invent Grumpy Cat? Yes. Yes he did.
Frasier Beast (2006)
In his first proper appearance in the X-Men movieverse (not counting a fur-free cameo in 2003’s X-Men 2) Beast was played by Kelsey Grammer and styled to look a bit like the classic blue ape version and quite a lot like a presidential smurf. Though a genius, Hank still did not know what to do about those tossed salads and scrambled eggs.
Horse Beast (2009)
Hey, Hank! Why the long face?
(There was no in-story explanation for this. It was just… I don’t know. Sometimes Thor is a frog, you know?)
Startled Liza Minnelli Kitten Beast (2011)
Beast’s second blue movie appearance (pardon the expression) was clearly more influenced by the cat look. And it was so terrible that it probably inspired Marvel editorial to finally get out the spray bottle and chase cat-Beast away.
Bat Beast (2013)
So that brings us up-to-date with Hank McCoy’s latest mutation. Bigger, burlier, with wet-look hair that really brings out the pointy teeth and pointier ears. Will the fans who hated the feline look be grateful for Hank’s new Mr Hyde-meets-Hulk-meets-Caliban appearance?
Sure. Fans are super flexible about this stuff.