If you know the X-Men’s Beast from 1992’s X-Men: The Animated Series or the X-Men movies, you may picture him as a bouncing blue scientist who uses three-syllable words where one-syllable ones would do. He’s the cheerful brainiac of the classic X-Men lineup.
You’re not wrong; that version of Henry McCoy is very often present in Marvel Comics as well. But in the Krakoan era, the pressure and power of being put in charge of the “CIA” of a mutant nation has pushed Hank McCoy’s pragmatism and intelligence to full-on sociopathic war criminality.
In the pages of X-Factor and Wolverine — both written by Benjamin Percy since 2020 — he has tortured, framed, and lobotomized in the name of “mutant safety.” He’s created bioweapons, tricked his operatives into killing innocents, and exacerbated a teammate’s addiction so she’d be less likely to pick up on his crimes. Lately, he finally went too far and got found out. Percy’s twinned X-Men books are racing toward a meaty (as in spilled guts) confrontation between Wolverine and Beast, and it’s going to be delicious when this blue bastard gets what’s coming to him.
What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)
As might be expected for a Wolverine comic, this image is gory — but believe me, this guy deserves it.
The understanding of Beast’s potential for villainy dates back to the mid-1990s, when writer Scott Lobdell and artist Roger Cruz introduced an alternate-universe Henry McCoy (eventually known as “Dark Beast”) who’d gone full over the ethical ledge to mad scientist.
Writers like Brian Michael Bendis have expressed this by giving Hank a god complex, where he unilaterally makes decisions like “I should bring the X-Men’s younger selves forward in time to remind the present ones of their ideals and dreams, I’ll definitely be able to keep anything bad from happening as a result of that.”
But it’s one thing to create the time-displaced young X-Men, and another to murder Wolverine, mess with his resurrection so he comes back as a mindless, biddable monster of an assassin, and tell the folks in charge of mutant resurrection that it was all Logan’s idea for a top-secret mission anyway. Logan got better and finally got his claws into Hank this week, but since none of the X-Men stay dead anymore, this promises to be only the beginning of the fight between a nigh-unkillable weapon and a nigh-unbeatable strategist.
Eight Billion Genies, the story of what happens when every single person in the world is simultaneously given one genie wish — told in chunks of the first eight minutes, the first eight hours, the first eight days, etc. — is winding up its story next month with an oversized issue covering the first eight centuries after the world goes bonkers. Watching Charles Soule and Ryan Browne’s bizarre creativity in this series has been an absolutely wild ride, and however they bring it home, I’m going to relish it.
I find myself really intrigued by DC Comics’ Lazarus Planet anthologies — even though I usually don’t enjoy every story in them. I like this strategy of using at least one chunk of each book for a short story introducing a brand new hero who then gets confirmed for a starring role in a new book.
Another thing I like: This character design!! Xanthe is the new nonbinary hero at the heart of Spirit World, a miniseries revival of an obscure Jack Kirby title. Award-winning writer Alyssa Wong joins artist Haining for a story about Xanthe and John Constantine rescuing Batgirl Cassandra Cain from hopping vampires. Spirit World will start in May in honor of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Month.