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Through the Eyes of the X-Men: Beast

Brian Michael Bendis talks about how young Hank McCoy will face the future for himself and the Marvel Universe!

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By Brett White

In his new ongoing series, ALL-NEW X-MEN, starting November 14, writer Brian Michael Bendis drops the teen-aged original X-Men into the middle of Avengers vs. X-Men's fallout.

Professor X lies dead, killed by Cyclops. The mutant race has bounced back from the edge of extinction. Mutant-human-relations stand at a new level of volatile. For all intents and purposes, the apocalyptic nightmare the X-Men were created to prevent has come to pass.

To get a better understanding of where these teenagers come from, Bendis spoke to Marvel.com about each original X-Man separately.

All-New X-Men #1 preview art by Stuart Immonen

Next up for analysis: Beast.

If teenage Hank McCoy found himself ill at ease with the brutish build and abnormally large hands and feet granted to him at birth, how will he handle seeing himself as an animalistic, blue, furry adult? And how will he cope with the knowledge that his own curiosity mutated him past his natural state? Brian Michael Bendis explains what it means for the Beast of the past to come face-to-fangs with the Beast of the present.

Marvel.com: Why is this Beast, a teenager, an X-Man?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well people have already seen from some of the excerpts you guys have released on Marvel.com and other places that we’re meeting the X-Men at a crossroads for the Beast. He is the most frustrated with his mutant powers, and with his relationship to the humans. He doesn’t like, or find it funny or a challenge that humans are, to quote Ali G "racializing" on him. So we actually meet the younger Beast at a time when he’s out of there, he’s leaving, he’s had it. And I think that represents a lot of the team as well. It wasn’t like the Avengers where everybody goes "yay"; with the X-Men, they’d do something and everyone would go "boo." How much of that can you take?

Marvel.com: He’s the most deformed, outwardly, of all of them. He can’t hide his mutation like Angel hides his wings. When he sees his future counterpart, who is blue and furry, how does that affect young Beast?

Brian Michael Bendis: I think you’ll see in the very first issue, literally just the fact that his blue, furry self shows up. Younger Beast is saying, "I have to see what this is, I have to follow it." As a scientist, how do you not follow this? He goes, "all right please show me."

All-New X-Men #1 preview art by Stuart Immonen

Marvel.com Also as a scientist, Beast is big into technology and science. Now he’s coming into the future and I feel like for a character like him, as shocking as seeing his future self is, maybe seeing an iPhone 5 is just as shocking.

Brian Michael Bendis: And it’s funny because that’s one of the traps of a time travel story. There’s so much emotional baggage that I’m not going to have him focus on and go like, "oh my god, Internet porn!" I joke.

Anyway, it’s more about the emotional journey of the X-Men and what they have built up to. I think he would be the most proud to see the Jean Grey School thriving. We are going to have some fun moments of him just nerding out with all the toys that he has access to now, but we’re not going to be specific to any kind of technology, because that would date the story. By the time the next issue comes out, the iPhone 6 will be out.

Marvel.com: That’s got to be an interesting hurdle when writing these teenagers, because you can’t have them talking like they’re from the 60’s, even though the last time these characters were this age was the 60’s.

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah, it’s a slippery slope on every conceivable level and it’s been a point of conversation on the message boards, which I’ve enjoyed because I had already made my decisions about how I was going to handle it. And even in the scenes that took place in the 60’s, I could’ve just used Stan Lee’s dialogue, but I decided to adapt it so that it wasn’t jarring. Just the language of comics was so different then, every sentence ended with an exclamation mark. I wanted to acclimate it a bit more to the language of the whole book itself.

Beast

It’s not about language, it’s not about fashion, it’s not an Austin Powers plot. It’s about the emotions of the characters, and decisions and choices. And though there’s a lot of fish out of water fun to be had, of course, and I will have it, it will be more about the emotional fish out of water than man out of time stuff. It’s also very low hanging fruit. Some of it’s so obvious. Instead of them going, "oh my god, cars are cool now, you can have a TV in your car," I’m going to focus on ideas like older Iceman dating Kitty Pryde and younger Iceman being like, "oh maybe I can get a shot at her." And then Kitty Pryde not liking Iceman so much anymore when she sees what a little tool he was when he was 16.

My wife [and I] are expecting, and it’s our first boy. And I’m trying to relate to my wife that how much she loves me, she really would not have appreciated me at 11.

Marvel.com: Beast is unquestionably the smartest of the five of them. Does he view himself that way?

Brian Michael Bendis: Absolutely.

Marvel.com: He still takes orders from Cyclops. Why does he listen to him?

Brian Michael Bendis: He’s like Spock to Cyclops’ Kirk. They’re both very smart and there are things they do well. But you’ll see Hank taking charge of a lot of stuff.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else you’d like to add about Beast?

Brian Michael Bendis: Beast has a lot to do with why this story happens, so it’s going to be a very important storyline for Beast, and all of the Beasts that there are in ALL-NEW X-MEN. On a smaller level, here is the Beast who realizes that he has done this to himself, this alteration to this mutation, and has made some bold choices, some of which have been successful, and some that just haven’t. He’s going to be faced with that.

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