In every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without actively retconnng away the previous story. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.
Today, based on the suggestions by a number of people over the years (including Scott N., whose e-mail is specifically the one that led to me doing this one right now) to look into when Beast’s fur turned from grey to blue, I figure I will use that same time to also explore how the Beast lost the significant healing power that he had received when he was initially transformed into the Beast!
The early 1970s were a weird time for Marvel Comics. Even before he officially stopped being Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief in 1972, Stan Lee had been dramatically pulling back from his writing duties and since Marvel had broken free of their restrictive distribution deal after they were sold in 1968, there was a huge boom in production of Marvel Comics. Even if they had remained at their old comic book output, Roy Thomas would need more help to write the comics, but with an expanded roster of books, they REALLY needed more people writing comic books.
At the same time, the Comics Code had finally relaxed its standards and so suddenly some monster type characters that would never have been allowed in mainstream comics were now very much on the table and so Marvel began to release a number of characters who were monster-themed. The X-Men had stopped publishing new issues in 1970, so Roy Thomas decided that one of the members of the X-Men, Beast, would make for a perfect candidate to become one of these sort of monster-inspired characters. After all, the guy’s name was Beast, ya know?
So Thomas assigned writer Gerry Conway and artist Tom Sutton to give Beast the lead feature in Amazing Adventures #11 (which came out either very late 1971 or early 1972), with an awesome cover by Gil Kane…
The opening of the book (by the way, Syd Shores was Sutton’s inker on the feature) really plays up the whole BEAST nature of the story, right? As the Beast hunts down a spy, who then REPEATEDLY SHOOTS HIM TO NO EFFECT!!!
With that tragic twist, we get a flashback to Hank McCoy leaving the X-Men to take a gig as a scientist (he also gets a girlfriend). While he is working for the lab, he discovers an isolated chemical that can cause mutation. He then overhears, though, that his boss at the lab is actually a bad guy who plans to steal the mutation formula. Hank wants to stop them, but he realizes that if the Beast suddenly shows up, how could he hide his secret identity? So, in one of those great moments of superhero idiocy, he drinks the mutation formula to temporarily turn himself into a bestial being to stop his boss’ agent from stealing the formula…
Naturally, though, his math didn’t work out, so he screwed up and was stuck in his Beast form.
He confronted his boss while he was pissed off, and once again, he is repeatedly shot and the bullet wounds heal up practically instantly…
He doesn’t kill his boss, but then the spy that the boss was working with eliminates him. The spy? Hank’s girlfriend, of course!
Okay, so that’s the set-up for the series. Here’s the thing, though, Conway was quickly proving too valuable to waste on a minor feature like this, so Thomas instead gave the book to a brand-new writer for Marvel, a writer who had never had his own series before – Steve Englehart!
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