1990#1 - My Secret Origin
What If... (vol. 2) #9 (January 1990)
“The Beauty and the Beast” was adapted as both a
children’s book (published by Random House) and in an issue of X-Men Adventures
by writer Ralph Macchio (not the actor) and artist Paul Borges. Neither
adaption was an improvement on the TV version. Both eliminated a vital
emotional component of the story, Hank’s breakdown. That said, the ending
of the comic is a bit more satisfying, with Jean Grey telling Hank not to
torture himself and him responding dryly, “Ahh, who better, Jean? Who better?”
But they soon fall into
the old pattern of him running from emergency to emergency and ignoring
her, and her being justifiably frustrated and annoyed. This is humorous in one way, because it’s almost like DeMatteis commenting on his own lack of effort in actually carving out time for the couple. It also leads to Hank’s heartfelt confession in Defenders #116 (see part 1 of this essay).
Synthia then reveals to Hank that she is some sort of alien / otherdimensional being who has been feeding off of his energy to gather strength to fight a creature she calls the Dark One. After he and Synthia defeat the villain, Hank finds himself back in the
same place where he first encountered Synthia, no time having passed. It’s an
exceedingly odd and uncomfortable comic, especially if you start to think about what sort of theme and message Starlin thought he was a conveying. To me it seems rather than having something interesting to say about the Beast's character, Starlin was using Beast and this story to work out some sort of personal issue. Case in point, none of Hank's concerns from the beginning of the book are resolved in any way.
The next year they got
their own mini-series by Roger Stern and Mark Bagley, the awkwardly titled
Avengers Two: Wonder Man and the Beast.
But the promise of this didn’t last, and the next time the two were paired was
in 2017, in issue #28 of Uncanny Avengers.
It was a satisfying issue, but not enough. I’m putting this idea out there for
free to any Marvel writer and/or editor: Make these two a couple and put them
in an ongoing book together. The subtext is already there and the groundwork has already been laid.
Adventures (Season II) #10
This means that reading superhero comics takes a level of compartmentalizing, contextualizing, and meta-analyzing that no other type of fiction can match. If comic readers didn't do those things, they'd surely drown in a sea of incoherence.
Writer Steve Englehart took over for the next
issue of Amazing Adventures. Under
Englehart’s pen, Hank was no longer hyper-articulate, and, as before, no
explanation was given for the switch. Englehart wrote the Beast for five issues
of Amazing Adventures, wrapping up
the threads of his plotline in the pages of Incredible
Hulk #161 in March 1973.