When Did the Beast's Fur Specifically Turn Blue?

In "When We First Met," we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Today, based on a discussion my pal, John Trumbull, was having on Twitter the other day, I'll reveal when the Beast officially turned blue!

The "official" part is what makes this one so tricky!

In the early 1970s, once the Comics Code relaxed their standards on horror-themed comics, Marvel quickly responded with a lot of horror-like twists on comics. Gerry Conway, Tom Sutton and Syd Shores revamped Beast of the X-Men by making him a literal beast as a result of his experiments in mutation coming up with a formula that could cause mutations. When he discovers that his boss is a villain planning on using the formula for nefarious purposes, Hank decides to keep the formula in a safe place - HIMSELF!

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The plan is for him to only be mutated temporarily, but when he misses his deadline, he is stuck in the new bestial form...

Steve Englehart was then given his first regular comic book assignment as he took over the feature.

In Amazing Adventures #14 (by Englehart, Sutton and inker Jim Mooney), the villainous Quasimodo tried to drain the Beast's life force, because he believed that the Beast'e enhanced metabolism (his healing factor, as it were) could help him. In the end, he drained enough of the Beast's life force that he felt human enough to feel so bad about what he did to the Beast that he killed himself. The process, though, drained the Beast of his healing powers...

In the next issue, he collapses at his apartment and Patsy Walker helps him out...

When he wakes up, his fur has changed colors!

Note that it specifically says that his fur is BLACK now!

Here's the trick, though. Generally speaking, when comics depict black hair, they give it a blue tint, like Superman's hair...

So while he was OFFICIALLY black-furred, the blue tint sure made it look like it was blue fur, right?

Well, when Englehart brought Beast over to the Avengers in Avengers #137 (art by George Tuska and Vince Colletta), he sure looked like he had blue fur, right?

It was not until after Avengers #153 (after Englehart had left the book), in Avengers Annual #6 (by Gerry Conway, George Perez, Mike Esposito, John Tartaglione and Duffy Vohland), when anyone acknowledges that the Beast had blue fur...

It's crazy how long that took!

If anyone has a question/suggestion for a notable comic book first, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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