The current X-Force run has revealed the dark path Beast has been on — and how it brings his dark potential from Age of Apocalypse to life.
Beast was one of the founding X-Men, a defining member of the team. For an extended period, he was one of the most optimistic and kindly members of the group, even going on to become an Avenger. But over the last two decades, he’s become an increasingly grim figure — which could be traced to a surprising storyline that introduced a different evil version of Beast the mainline Hank McCoy has become increasingly similar to.
Perhaps the most surprisingly enduring trait of the Age of Apocalypse storyline is the idea of Beast becoming a dark and malicious figure — which could be seen as the beginnings of the current iteration of Beast in the First Krakoan Age.
In the Age of Apocalypse timeline, the intervention of Legion on the past resulted in the premature death of Charles Xavier — preventing the formation of the X-Men. Meanwhile, the battle awoke Apocalypse decades early, allowing him to take control of the world far more effectively. This meant that by the present-day, the Earth was largely a scorched ruin ruled over by a generation of cruel mutants, with only Magneto’s rebellious X-Men left to fight back. One of the most distinct reinventions of a classic hero proved to be Hank McCoy, aka the Beast. In this world, McCoy ended up a student of Mister Sinister and developed a dark tendency to experiment on others with as much vigor and cruelty as his mentor.
Becoming a reoccurring figure in the story-arc, this Dark Beast ended up also being one of the few initial survivors of the Age of Apocalypse. By escaping into the M’Kraan Crystal, he was able to escape the apparent erasure of his world and make a home for himself in the core-Marvel timeline. He briefly replaced the mainline Beast after kidnapping him and became a consistent foe for the X-Men over the years. Working alongside numerous villains over the years, Dark Beast notably became a true foil for the heroic Beast of the core-Marvel timeline, often serving as a reminder of what could happen if Beast went to far and skewed his morals in the name of science.
But across the last two decades, Beast has been forced to go down that path for a variety of reasons — most prominently in the fallout of House of M, when most of the mutant race was depowered and the remnants found themselves hunted. Beast turned to numerous possibilities to solve this crisis — even working with his alternate counterpart in a bid to restore the X-Gene. Dark Beast was ultimately and finally killed in the lead-up to House of X — and due to the rules against the resurrection of clones or alternate counterparts, has not been restored on Krakoa. But the impact of the character has remained prevalent in the core-Beast.
Since the introduction of Dark Beast as a concept, the mainline Beast has become an increasingly dour and dark character. He’s crossed multiple ethical lines over the years in a bid to accomplish any number of greater goods. He’s even embraced a ruthless and pragmatic approach to leadership with his current position in X-Force, referring to himself as the bastard that Krakoa truly needs if it wants to survive the chaos of the world. He’s quietly become far more similar to his dark counterpart. Over the years, Age of Apocalypse has remained a fan-favorite arc of the X-Men mythos. But by showcasing how compelling a darker iteration of Beast could be, the series lives on even after almost all the major figures from it have been killed off.
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