Marvel Comics Presents #85-92 (Beast)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #85, Marvel Comics Presents #86, Marvel Comics Presents #87, Marvel Comics Presents #88, Marvel Comics Presents #89, Marvel Comics Presents #90, Marvel Comics Presents #91, Marvel Comics Presents #92 (Beast story only)
Alright, this is a full length story about the Beast, and it features the Constrictor and Super-Apes and a guy named Commander Courage and his Wereborgs. Plus it has evidence of the damage done by Professor X's liberal use of mindwipes in the early days. And it takes place in Belgium. So it's a full plate.
I guess we can start with Rob Liefeld drawing the original X-Men.
That takes place just a few hours after the Beast was recruited. The Beast is upset to learn that a friend of his, Jennifer Nyles, was mind-wiped by Professor X. In the present day, Beast recounts that story to X-Factor's Ship, and then is alerted to the fact that a mail carrier is being attacked by what turns out to be our first Wereborg.
The Wereborg explodes after Beast stops it. The letter that the mail carrier was trying to deliver is an invitation to a symposium on Mutant Research in Belgium where Jennifer Nyles, now a geneticist, is the keynote speaker.
As soon as the Beast gets to his hotel in Belgium, he's attacked by the Constrictor.
The Constrictor is enjoying himself.
At least at first.
During the fight at the hotel, the Beast is knocked into a room with the Red Ghost.
And it turns out that he's the one that hired the Constrictor.
After defeating the Constrictor, the Beast wastes no time in getting to the party for the Symposium. He finds that Jennifer Nyles has not recovered from Professor X's old mindwipe.
And then (some might say finally) the Super Apes arrive.
Note that the Beast says that the orangutan has electricity powers. He used to have magnetism. This may just be a mistake on Scott Lobdell's part, but we will learn that someone is tinkering with the Apes, so the Beast may be observing his actual powers instead of speaking from having read the Avengers file on him. On the other hand, he is aware that the third "ape" has shape-shifting powers even though it isn't here, although he incorrectly says that it's a chimpanzee instead of a baboon.
The Beast is zapped and the Apes leave with Jennifer. When Beast wakes up, he meets another scientist (that Beast knows from the plane ride over) who tells him about a series of murders that coincide with the disappearance of a colleague that was studying techno-organics (in this context, i think they really just mean cyborgs, not anything to do with Warlock or the like). The scientist is upset because the Department of Defense agent, Commander Courage (a name that no one seems to think is unusual), hasn't looked into the disappearance of his colleague. It also turns out that the Red Ghost was arrested immediately after his Apes kidnapped Jennifer, and both the scientist and the Beast think it's a bit suspicious that he would linger around. We've already seen that Courage has murdered his boss at the Ministry of Defense, so it's not meant to be a mystery to us that he's a bad guy.
The Beast is invited to the Ministry of Defense, but when he gets there he sneaks around and finds the Red Ghost tied up in an interrogation room. The Red Ghost tells him that he no longer controls his Super-Apes (and who is too out of sorts for his phasing powers to work), and then Commander Courage shows up.
There's no way that guy isn't a super-villain, but the Beast keeps up the pretenses and allows himself to be escorted out. He goes to the Constrictor and tells him that he's been set up, pointing out that the Red Ghost doesn't have any reason to go after the Beast and also the fact that the Constrictor has managed to escape prison after their last fight a little too easily. Constrictor agrees and Teams-Up with the Beast.
Back inside the ministry, the two split up, with the Constrictor searching for who really hired him, while the Beast locates Jennifer.
Beast is shot and captured, and Commander Courage explains what's going on.
Meanwhile, Constrictor vs. Super Apes!
Beast manages to escape, grabbing Jennifer and hiding in the rafters until Commander Courage's Wereborgs finish searching the area. He then heads to a computer terminal and proves that Courage is up to no good. As if that wasn't obvious!
The Constrictor is joined by the Beast's scientist friend, who turns out to be some sort of Belgian answer to Rambo.
They fight off the Super Apes and Wereborgs and rescue the Red Ghost, and then the Beast uses the computer to order the Super-Apes to Team-Up with the Constrictor! Greep breep!
Meanwhile, Jennifer tells Beast that she got involved with studying the programming of the human mind when she woke up in college one day and felt like a part of her soul had been removed. Thanks Professor X!
A kiss from the Beast restores her memories.
And the Beast just makes a mockery of Captain Courage's Wereborg program.
But then Courage shoots Jennifer, and (after he's attacked by the Constrictor and Belgian Rambo) transforms into a Wereborg himself.
But then he's killed by the Red Ghost, who has his powers back.
In the end, Jennifer is dying from the blast from Captain Courage, but the Beast uses the Wereborg technology to reconstruct her. It seems she just lives a normal life from here on out, and never comes back as a cyborg or something. In other words, this is her last appearances. Jennifer did appear, unnamed, in Beast's origin story in Uncanny X-Men #52, and she does have a few other retroactive appearances as well, all prior to this story.
This was fun. I mean, they had me at Beast/Constrictor Team-Up, but there are a lot of other crazy elements as well. And the scripting style of Scott Lobdell, who can't seem to help but make bad jokes no matter who is is writing, works well for the Beast. I mean this isn't great by any means, and i assume we're not supposed to take any of it too seriously. But it's got enough going on that it stays amusing. And it's nice to see the early and more or less straightforward art by Jae Lee once Rob Liefeld gets out of the way.
With eight segments to use, Scott Lobdell is able to take his time with this story, relatively speaking (i mean, each segment is only 8 pages), devoting the entire second part to the Beast on the plane on the way to Belgium, bending the ear of an uninterested fellow passenger about why Jennifer Nyles is so important to him. The downside of that is, of course, if you only bought that issue, you're stuck with 8 pages of the Beast talking to someone on a plane. That is the challenge of the Marvel Comics Presents format, and the stories rarely meet that challenge. But at least some of them have Super Apes.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place while X-Factor's Ship still exists. It's shown floating in the sky as opposed to being docked as a building in Manhattan. I haven't pushed this story all the way back prior to Judgment War (which ended with Ship becoming a building), but i did place it near X-Men Spotlight on... Starjammers, which has Ship floating around for a while.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBeast, Constrictor, Igor (Super Ape), Jennifer Nyles, Mikhlo (Super Ape), Peator (Super Ape), Red Ghost, Ship (Prosh)
The Constrictor is one of the characters I've really come to enjoy thanks to your project. Somehow I only read appearances of him where he is just a random thug, I never knew there was an actual personality to him!
Posted by: Berend | December 2, 2015 2:56 PM
Commander Courage clearly goes to the same tailor as M. Bison.
Posted by: MegaSpiderMan | December 2, 2015 4:02 PM
I think Jennifer Nyles might be the blonde that gets killed by Dark Beast in X-men Unlimited #10 when he was going around killing friends and relatives of Regular Beast.
Posted by: Red Comet | December 2, 2015 4:24 PM
If you're interested in the Constrinctor, the you should know he gets a lot of play in Avengers: Initiative
Posted by: Jon Dubya | December 2, 2015 9:28 PM
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