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Why Did the Beast Join the Avengers?

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, discover the surprising reason why the Beast first joined the Avengers.

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, discover the surprising reason why the Beast first joined the Avengers.

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and forty-third installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. Click here for the first legend in this installment.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I’ll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

Steve Englehart decided to have the Beast join the Avengers after his job writing Beast’s solo feature came to a close.

False

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 artists Tom Sutton and Syd Shores 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…

Their way of making the Beast a literal beast was 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!

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

He then took out his frustrations with that turn of events by attacking his evil old boss…

Again, as noted before, this was a weird time for comics, as the expansion was soon too much for even the NEW writers like Gerry Conway to handle all of the workload, so a SECOND wave of young writers started getting opportunities at Marvel, including the great Steve Englehart, who was given his first regular comic book assignment as he took over the Beast feature in Amazing Adventures starting with Amazing Adventures #12. The problem was that, despite Englehart’s strong work on the feature, it never quite caught on and the Beast feature ended with Amazing Adventures #17.

By that point, Englehart had graduated to bigger assignments at Marvel, anyway, and was soon the writer on the Avengers.

RELATED: The ‘Secret’ Crossover Between Batman and Daredevil

A couple of years later, in 1975, Englehart picked up on his old Beast feature by having the Beast join the Avengers in Avengers #137 (art by George Tuska and Vince Colletta)….

and that issue also debuted the Beast’s now most famous catchphrase, “Oh, my stars and garters.”

Naturally, this was just a case of Englehart deciding to bring over a character whose feature was cut short while Englehart was in the middle of a story, as this way, Englehart could continue those subplots and also use a character he liked. I have personally used almost that exact phrase “Englehart decided to bring the Beast over to the Avengers.”

However, that turned out NOT to be the case of how it went down!

RELATED: Wonder Woman: In Which Comic Was She Originally Meant to Debut?

Engleharrt was interviewed by future star comic book editor, Diana Shutz, in the pages of Fantaco’s The Avengers Chronicles in 1982 (a couple of years before Shutz became the Editor-in-Chief of Comico). She asked him about Beast’s time on the Avengers:

Shutz: Was it your idea to introduce Beast to the Avengers?

Englehart: No, it was Roy’s idea. When I wrapped up the whole Mantis thing and was thinking of starting a new roster, it was Roy’s suggestion that I bring in the Beast. I was happy to jump for it. I mean, I liked him and had always been sort of sad that he’d only run six issues. He was my first-born, you know, and he was where I really got to do Marvel comics for the first time, and I’d really liked that strip. I mean, it suffered – it was written by an unknown person at that time, it was drawn by Tom Sutton, whom some people really like and some people really don’t like and who is not an automatic fan-favorite. It’s one of those strips that I think, if I had done it after people knew who I was, it would have sold well enough to continue. Since it was my first, it didn’t, and yet I had always thought that what I did in there was as good as anything I did.

Fascinating. I never would have guessed. Thanks so much to Steve and DIana for the information!

In the latest TV Legends Revealed – Discover the surprising original setup for A Different World, and what future movie star was originally going to be the lead of the series.

Check back soon for part 3 of this installment’s legends!

Feel free to send suggestions for future comic legends to me at either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com

CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over fifteen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed).

He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo.

He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed and other pop culture features at Pop Culture References.

Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at brianc@cbr.com!

CHECK OUT A TV LEGENDS REVEALED!

PART THREE SOON!

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