Hank McCoy is one of the most famous of the X-Men, otherwise known as the bouncing blue Beast! But a few years ago, the walls of reality cracked asunder, and a dark version emerged…
It all began with the Age of Apocalypse. This was one of the greatest X-epics of all time, a tremendous storyline in which reality itself had been utterly transformed. Charles Xavier had died years ago, and Apocalypse had risen to power, claiming the world for himself. One of Apocalypse’s greatest allies was a twisted version of Hank McCoy, a geneticist who had experimented upon himself and who rejoiced in frankly rather sick experiments upon others.
It’s important to realise that the Beast was crucial to Apocalypse’s reign. Trained under Sinister, it was this Beast who had developed Apocalypse’s army of Infinites, and whose experiments upon Jamie Madrox had turned him into the Madri Priesthood of Apocalypse.
Of course, the X-Men of that reality put matters aright – only not quite well enough. Escaping the end of his reality through a shard of the M’Kraan crystal, the Beast emerged in the Marvel Universe we know and love. But not in the present day; instead, he was banished to yesterday. His memories gradually recovering, the Beast settled down in the sewers beneath New York, and soon discovered – and experimented upon – the Morlocks he found there.
This was actually a tremendous retcon. Years earlier, Sinister had, for reasons unknown, had the Morlocks slaughtered by his Marauders. It was a critical X-event known as the Morlock massacre, and it turns out the rationale was tied to the Dark Beast. Sinister recognised the hints of his own technology, and he decided to eliminate the Morlocks as a result.
The Dark Beast, as he became known by comic readers, began to gather a new Brotherhood of Mutants around himself; this included a brainwashed Havok. At the same time, he decided to capture the Hank McCoy of our reality and replace him, infiltrating the X-Men. It was a clever ruse, but it backfired when Professor Xavier went rogue and manifested as the powerful psionic being Onslaught. The Dark Beast was soon caught up in it all, much to his dissatisfaction.
The Dark Beast would remain a dangerous presence, at one point tied to Gene Nation, and at another heading to Genosha apparently for a fresh start; when the mutant race was almost wiped out by the Scarlet Witch, the Dark Beast agreed a temporary (and short-lived) truth with his alternate self in order to try to reverse it.
It was now that Norman Osborn rose to power, and he formed an alliance with the Dark Beast – who became the scientist behind Osborn’s attempt at policing the mutant race. The Dark Beast’s methods were brutal, to say the least, and he briefly rejoiced in the opportunity to experiment upon his other self. When Osborn fell from power, the Dark Beast retreated once again to the Morlock tunnels; his experiments were ended by Spider-Man and the X-Men.
Here’s where it gets really interesting, though; the Dark Beast was rescued by X-Force, who needed an expert in Apocalypse’s technology to help save Warren Worthington from the Archangel personae. The Dark Beast betrayed them, attempting to usher in the Age of Archangel, and fled with the Horseman who had been impregnated by Archangel.
Becoming leader of Clan Akkaba, the devoted followers of Apocalypse, the Dark Beast successfully built a series of inter-dimensional portals to link this reality back to his homeworld. As the Age of Apocalypse reality finally fell apart, the Dark Beast was one of the few survivors; he was once again captured.
And here are the recent twists. It turns out that the Dark Beast somehow infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., and successfully introduced nano-technology that disrupted the powers of Cyclops, Magik, Emma Frost, and Magneto. He worked hard to destroy the unity of the X-Men, but overplayed his hand when he caused a flare of Cyclops’ powers in an attack upon the normal Hank McCoy. When Cyclops blasted him with an optic blast, a pressure suit he was wearing was broken; it seems the Dark Beast had further experimented upon himself, and had become a being who could not survive outside of this self-contained environment.
In a strange way, there’s nobody more symbolic of ‘survival of the fittest’ than the Dark Beast. He’s continually evolving himself, and no matter what happens to entire realities, he seems to survive. I seriously doubt that he’s really dead, though. I mean, he’s familiar with Sinister’s cloning technology, so I reckon his last story is yet to be told…