Amazing Adventures (2nd series) #17

Issue Date: 
March 1973
Story Title: 
Birth of the Beast!

Introduction and epilogue: Steve Englehart (writer), Jim Starlin (penciler & cover artist), Mike Esposito (inker), Denise Vladimir (letterer), Roy Thomas (editor)

Interior story: Arnold Drake (writer), Werner Roth (penciler), John Tartaglione, John Verpoorten (inkers), Herb Cooper, Jean “Simek” Izzo, Sam Rosen, Irv Watanabe (letterers), Stan Lee (editor)

Brief Description: 

Norton and Edna McCoy move to a suburb where Norton gets a job in a nuclear power plant. One day at work, the nuclear reactor almost has a meltdown, but Norton’s selfless action prevents it but exposes him to a massive dose of radiation. Later, when Norton and Edna have their first child—a boy named Hank—they notice he has abnormally large and powerful hands and feet, which their doctor theorizes stems from Norton’s heavy exposure to radiation. Hank McCoy grows up incredibly strong and agile. After the high school football coach discovers his athletic prowess, he recruits Hank to the team, where he becomes the star player. During one of the packed football games, a trio of bandits robs the ticket booth, but Hank thwarts their escape on live television, attracting both the adoration of the local police and the attention of El Conquistador. After assessing his athletic ability, El Conquistador kidnaps Hank McCoy and threatens to kill his parents if he doesn’t cooperate and steal him a coveted, portable nuclear reactor. Hank does as he’s told, but discovers El Conquistador still won’t free him or his parents. As Hank tries to stop El Conquistador from taking over the world, the X-Men, who had also been tracking Hank via Cerebro, arrive in time to help him topple the tyrant. Afterward, Professor X destroys El Conquistador, wipes the minds of everyone who ever knew Hank and invites him to join the X-Men as the Beast.

Full Summary: 

“You know what they say: ‘we can’t go on meeting like this’,” Beast says while standing in a darkened room encircled by candles. “So, since we announced that a new feature would replace me in Amazing Adventures—why am I here? I’m here because, simply, I couldn’t leave without telling you the full story—the story of how I began the long journey to becoming the baleful Beast that now crouches before you. It’s a strange saga, full of danger, delight, triumph and tragedy—and I want you to know it…”

But, the very beginnings saw a happier day… the day Norton McCoy married Edna Andrews.


Norton and Edna rush out of the wedding chapel and into their awaiting vehicle, which has been lovingly decorated with ribbons and a “JUST MARRIED” sign on its rear. While the crowd throws rice, a friend advises Edna to save the grains, for they may be all her cheapskate husband provides! Edna laughs and tells Norton he has some friend there. Norton laughs; he thought the heckler was one of Edna’s friends!

Later, Norton drives Edna to their new home in a sparsely populated neighborhood. It looks so desolate, Edna observes. Norton tells her to give it time; it’s a new town, built specifically for the power plant in which he’ll be working. That’s what really frightens her, Edna says. She doesn’t like the thought of her husband working around atomic energy. It’s so dangerous! Norton informs her they are not making bombs; it’s a peaceful application of atomic power. Nevertheless, Edna’s fears remain, as some say it is deadly material. As Norton carries his wife over the threshold of their new, suburban home, he tells her not to worry. The plant has all sorts of safety devices. He welcomes Mrs. McCoy to their new home. Her mind still on atomic power, she tells Norton she just hopes he’s right.

As it turns out, Hank McCoy’s father-to-be is just whistling in the dark, as shortly after that, whistle echoed terrifyingly. Norton bursts into his boss’s office one day with news of trouble in Section B. Mr. Marlin asks if it is the Breeder reactor, to which Norton responds it is. They rush to the control room, where Mr. Marlin asks how long the situation has been occurring. Too long, John answers, adding that he’s been trying to lower the carbon rods to quiet the pile—with no success. Marlin orders Norton to summon the chief electrical engineer and to clear the crew from the B-R observation deck. He decides to withhold a general public warning for twenty minutes to avoid creating unnecessary panic.

The electrical engineer arrives and delivers some bad news: the short circuit is not on the surface. It could take several hours to diagnose and repair! They don’t have that kind of time, Marlin realizes. Someone will have to enter the observation deck and lower the carbon rods manually! A fellow engineer points out that Marlin will not find many volunteers for that job. However, they need not even search, as Norton McCoy has already taken the task upon himself.

Marlin is shocked to discover McCoy inside the observation deck, already wearing a protective suit. He urges McCoy to exit the deck immediately; the suit isn’t radiation-proof! If it were, he would be immobile. If that’s the case, then Norton McCoy supposes he had better get started immediately. The sooner he finishes, the sooner they can go home! Resigning himself to the situation, Marlin begins issuing orders to his stubborn employee, the first of which is to lower the control rods—slowly. If he smashes them, they’re all dead. Norton tells him not to worry; he’ll set the rods down as gently as the top floor on a house of cards.

Norton McCoy soon discovers he’s handling something much heavier than playing cards. As hard as he tries, he can barely keep the operating wheel from spinning out of control. He has no choice in the matter; if he lets go, the carbon rods will crash! The other engineers watch anxiously as Norton nears the completion of the task. However, they wonder how much longer he can endure the strain. To make matters worse, the observation deck is now saturated with radiation. If they don’t retrieve McCoy soon, they worry he’ll be fried to a crisp.

Just then, Norton McCoy finishes the task and slumps over the wheel. His colleagues rejoice and, not wanting a dead hero, hurry to get him out of the observation deck as soon as possible. As they haul his limp body out of the room, one man opines that they do not make medals big enough for a man as heroic as Norton McCoy. The other man cynically suggests McCoy did it with the headlines and cash rewards in mind. His colleague counters that those who take the time to consider such rewards never have time to commit acts of heroism like McCoy’s.

Later, Edna McCoy visits her recovering husband in the hospital. He assures her he will return to work in a few months! Not at that plant, Edna states. She gives Norton an ultimatum: he can either find a new job or a new wife. She strikes a hard bargain, Norton says. She replies she only does so when dealing with a hard head.

The couple eventually finds a new town and a new job. Shortly thereafter, Edna visits the doctor to confirm a suspicion of hers: she’s going to have a baby! Norton considers this the best news of the century. The doctor, however, is less enthusiastic. He gravely informs Norton that his exposure to radiation may have strange genetic consequences on their child. Put simply, their child might not be normal. How horrible, Edna cries. Norton asks her not to worry. After all, their child may be better than normal!

When the child is born, the nurse in the delivery room confirms the boy is quite normal—except for his exceptionally large hands and feet. The doctor agrees. He wonders what else time will tell them about the baby.

Sometime later, Norton’s brother Bob visits the newborn, who holds his bottle between his big feet. “Look at that little devil! Fantastic the way he uses those big feet!” Uncle Bob observes. “Coochy-kitchy-coo!” Norton warns him that little baby Hank may not like that sort of talk. “Nonsense! All kids like coochy-kitchy-coo!” Uncle Bob says. To Bob’s surprise, baby Hank reaches up and punches him beneath the jaw. Although slightly shaken, Bob remarks that the baby may one day be a heavyweight champion and a field-goal kicker—perhaps both!

“Could be,” the happy parents say, not yet aware their child is destined for something far greater than that.

The years pass quickly for the boy who would one day be called the Beast. One day during Hank’s formative years, his Uncle Bob comes over and extends his arm for a handshake. Hank’s mother warns him to be gentle as he reaches out to shake it. Hank tries his best, but his grip still crushes his uncle’s hand. Edna scolds the naughty boy for not being careful, as she instructed. Hank coyly insists he was trying his best.

One day during Hank’s adolescence, while a freshman in high school, he and his classmate Jennifer cross the football field just as the team’s coach berates the players for their poor performance lately. They call themselves football players? He doubts they could catch a marble in a peach basket! Jennifer suggests to Hank that they leave before they get caught up in the coach’s fury. After all, the team lost its five most recent games. At least they’re consistent, Hank says.

Continuing his rant, the football coach bets he could pick a pint-sized freshman and make him a star on this crummy varsity squad. To demonstrate, he turns and singles out Hank as he passes and orders him to kick a football. Although Hank would rather not, the irate coach insists. With trepidation, Hank complies, and kicks the football with far more force than anyone expected. Now that’s a football player, the couch shouts.

To further test the boy’s limits, the coach runs several meters down the field and orders Hank to pass him the pigskin with all his might. Hank agrees to the task, but advises the athletic instructor to get a bit farther downfield; he has trouble controlling such short passes. The coach questions Hank’s definition of short, but a moment later, Hank drills the ball across the field and into his chest. As the momentum of it knocks him backward, Coach realizes that if he lives through this tryout, he may have the team’s new star player of the year!

Hank’s football prowess, which leads the team to six victories in a row, gains him the adoration of the town and the attention of the local media. His fans start calling him “The Boy with the Golden Arm”. During a sold-out game, a gang of robbers sneaks up on the box office, intent on stealing the $25,000 they estimate it contains. They thank Hank McCoy for attracting so paying fans to the games; if they had robbed this stadium the previous year, they doubt they would have made off with more than twelve cents!

As the thieves approach the ticket booth, the woman working inside asks how many tickets they would like. The masked bandits spray her with a knockout gas and tell her they would like to take everything. Before they can make off with the loot, however, the police arrive and block their escape route. Improvising, they change course and run through the stadium instead.

The frenzied chase winds up within the crowded sports palace. As the bandits leap over the railing onto the football turf, a cop swears he will open fire if they don’t halt. However, his fellow officer orders him to stand down; if he fires his gun, he may hit someone in the audience! Instead, they chase the thieves across the field. Because of the lead time the thieves have, the cops don’t stand a chance—especially when the thieves realize their pursuers cannot open fire. They’re home free—almost.

From across the field, Hank McCoy hopes that Lady Luck is among the pulsating patrons of the day’s game and kicks the football at the escaping criminals. Luck is on his side: the football connects with the lead thief’s head. Hank dispatches the other two bandits by hurling first his own helmet, then the helmet of one of his teammates. Both pieces of projectile headgear hit their targets square in their backs.

The police officers approach the downed criminals. To their horror, one of them sits up and produces a live grenade from inside his jacket. One more step and they’ll all get it, he says! The officers dare not call the bandit’s bluff. While the bandit tells the men that everyone will live if they just stay where they are, Hank sneaks around behind him, climbs the goalpost, and leaps unexpectedly onto the thief’s back. The force of his attack sends the criminal crashing to the ground—and the live grenade out of his hand. A nearby cameraman catches the entire scene on film. Not only did 15,000 of Hank’s fans just witness his daring capture, but so did five million TV viewers at home!

The officers rush over to Hank and thank him profusely for his help. They ask if they can do anything to repay him. They can start by disposing of the live grenade, Hank says.

Meanwhile, at that same moment, a man dressed in a Spanish Conquistador outfit watches the scene play out on his TV set. He asks his subordinate if he, too, saw the feat the amazing lad performed He did. The Conquistador announces that it must be fate; he now knows the final tool he needs for his onslaught. Never before did he hope to find this young gem, who will now make him the master of all!

That night, as Hank wends his way home from the gay victory celebration, El Conquistador and his men ambush him in an alley near a construction site. They find the conditions perfect for the trial they want to run. Once Hank wanders about halfway down the confined alley, one of the men starts up his dump-truck and hits the gas. The truck roars to life and charges at the trapped Hank McCoy. “Watch it! Have you gone stark raving non-compus-mentus?” Hank shouts. With nowhere else to go, Hank jumps straight up into the air. He clears the top of the truck, repels off a brick wall and vaults himself across the alley and into the submerged construction site. Fortunately, he manages his trajectory and bounces off the top of a large industrial crane. Although it’s not the world’s best trampoline, beggars can’t be choosers, he says.

El Conquistador has seen enough. The boy has more than surpassed his expectations. With the trial over, he commands his men to commence Operation Snare—and to bring him the boy instantly. The men take action right away. They accost Hank on the grass near the construction site and attempt to ensnare him in a net.

Hank, however, eludes them, thanks to his extraordinary agility. “For the love of Pliny! It seems there’s more danger afoot than a mere runaway truck,” Hank says as the net falls, “—like these two errant birdnappers who seem to have mistaken me for an oriole!” The two men collide after Hank jumps out of their way. Regardless, they grab him by the ankles and try to drag him into captivity—after complimenting his impressive, if unsuccessful, attempt at a getaway. Hank plunges his fingers into the dirt to resist their pull. “Anybody ever tell you that you have a talent for denoting the obvious?” Hank asks them. He flips around, pulls their legs inward and brings them to the ground. They must also have a talent for computing their poultry before they’ve been fully incubated, he adds.

With his men defeated, El Conquistador decides to face young Hank himself. He arrives on the scene and commends Hank for defeating the best of his most trusted men. However, he came to demonstrate to Hank that even he is no match for El Conquistador! He draws his sword and, to Hank’s surprise, the gleaming blade converts into a three-pronged weapon that sends a surge of electricity through the young mutant’s body.

Later, outside Hank’s home, a silent figure waits patiently for some sign of life. Stealthily, he begins to advance. Inside the house, he finds the McCoy dinner table freshly set and signs of a struggle. It’s enough to raise alarms in his head. He turns around, heads out the door and generates an ice-slide to carry him home. When Professor Xavier dispatched Iceman to this location to investigate a new mutant signature on Cerebro, he probably didn’t realize he was sending him into the thick of a first-class mystery!

Iceman returns home and reports the strange scene to Cyclops, Angel and Professor X. Xavier realizes someone else must have detected the power within this new mutant—but who, and how? He decides to take a more direct role in this enigma.

Angel and Iceman discuss the disappearance of their new, potential teammate. Cyclops asks his teammates to be quiet; Professor X is receiving some kind of cerebral signal and needs to concentrate. It may be that Hank McCoy kid, Cyke says. Professor X confirms that it is—and that Hank is in trouble. It has something to do with the boy’s parents, he says. If he could pull a sharp directional indication, he could send the X-Men to the boy’s location—but the signal is too weak. Fortunately, he has been working on an electronic brain wave detector far more sensitive than his own natural abilities. However, it’s still top-secret. He asks his three X-Men to remain behind while he uses the machine in private. Upon hearing of this robot brain-picker, Iceman asks if anything is sacred anymore.

Professor X enters the private chamber of his invention, which he calls Cerebro. Although in its crude, early stages, it does work; it’s even picking up a mutant brain pattern matching the description of McCoy’s. Professor X sends out a telepathic alert to his team that he has located the boy. They are to prepare for immediate action.

However, it may be too late for the X-Men to help, for elsewhere, El Conquistador presents Hank with an ultimatum: cooperate, or watch his captive parents die! El Conquistador outlines the treacherous task Hank McCoy must perform. He knows Hank will learn it quickly, as his decision to join El Conquistador already proved he was wise beyond his years! Hank disagrees; all that proves is El Conquistador has a hammer looming over his cranium.

Outside the laboratory housing the object of El Conquistador’s desire, two government soldiers chit-chat as they stand guard. The lower-ranking of the two asks his superior officer why this ordinary laboratory suddenly needs military protection. His superior explains they have constructed an experimental nuclear reactor for which many folks would trade an eye. However, no man will ever make it inside, he says.

His statement would hold true, were it not for the mutant Hank McCoy. Hank bounds over the barbed wire fence and scales one of the walls of the building. This particular wall has no windows lower than twenty feet, hence the reason it is not guarded. However, to a boy like Hank, who can climb walls with the finesse of an ape, this poses no problem; in fact, it’s why El Conquistador chose him. He makes it to the window and slips inside, finding himself in the room housing the nuclear reactor. All he has to do to free his parents is steal it for El Conquistador—who would then have more power than Ivan the Terrible. Hank realizes he will be the one granting him this power.

Nevertheless, he moves toward the portable nuclear reactor and carefully lifts it from its position. He does so noiselessly, so as not to trip any sonic sensors. Unfortunately, the device also has a motion sensory detection system. The alarms sound once Hank lifts it from its dais, and a pair of guards bursts into the room and orders Hank to halt under threat of death. They mean business! Must be under special orders, Hank thinks. But I’m under special orders too—to save my folks!

With few options, Hank, reactor in hand, lunges at one of the men, ricochets off him and into the other, and then lets his momentum carry him out the door. As he escapes, he begs his pardon; this crude and inhospitable manner of his is neither voluntary nor in true character! As he continues his getaway, the downed guards continue to fire at him. It appears they haven’t the slightest concern for any extenuating circumstances that may have compelled him to commit this criminal act, Hank thinks.

He arrives at the tall, barbed-wire fence and readies to clear it once again. Before he can however, a truck overtakes him, intent on cutting off his escape. The driver of the truck interposes himself between Hank and the fence. The driver figures it wrong, though; Hank merely uses the truck as a platform to clear the wall with even more relative ease. Dumbfounded, the two soldiers in the truck watch as Hank escapes. They may have seen it, but they refuse to believe it.

Hank returns to El Conquistador and presents him with the stolen nuclear reactor. El Conquistador rejoices; with this source of endless power, he is indomitable! Hank asks if he could cool his rapturous maunderings long enough to release his parents, as per their mutual agreement. “Shut your mouth, boy!” El Conquistador shouts. He backhands Hank across the face. “Your parents will remain where they are—indefinitely—as hostages against your rebellious spirit,” El Conquistador adds, “until you are of no further use to me!”

As the dawn deadline of El Conquistador’s machinations ticks closer, giant power transmitters silently await the moment when they will threaten every world capital with destruction. Fortunately, Hank regains consciousness in time to overhear El Conquistador discussing his plans for world domination by way of the stolen energy transmitter. They’re so busy gloating over their impending victory that Hank may just be able to sneak up behind them and tear the transmitters apart with his bare hands.

Chico spots Hank as he gathers himself and darts across the chamber floor. The boy will ruin everything, Chico shouts! Hank charges at El Conquistador, but the villain blocks the attack with his electronically boosted shield, which he claims can repel the force of a ten-ton truck! Additionally, El Conquistador’s mastery of electronics has afforded him a three-pronged sword that sends over 5,000 volts of pure electricity at its targets.

Hank has felt the sting of this weapon before—and almost does once again. However, he springs out of the way in time. El Conquistador praises his evasion, but asks the boy how long he thinks he can outrun pure electricity. Hank tries his best. Bouncing around the room, he heads for an exit and bounds into the hallway, the electricity hot on his heels. Out of the corner of his eye, he spies Chico escaping through a sliding door. If Hank can make it to the door in time, he thinks he can escape alongside El Conquistador’s fleeing toady. However, he is a moment too late; the door slams shut in his face.

Rejoicing, El Conquistador raises his kinetic trident and levels it at Hank—for the final time. Before he can deliver the coup de grace, however, a blast on par with a localized atomic bomb rips the three-inch-thick steel door of the chamber asunder. El Conquistador can only look in shock and guess as to what object could wield such force. To his surprise, the culprit is a young, teenage boy bearing a red visor across his eyes.

“Looks like I overestimated the amount of optic energy I’d need to blow that door off its hinges!” the X-Man Cyclops says as he enters. His winged teammate Angel advises him to conserve the power of his optic blasts; they’re going to need it when they take on their electric-wielding madman of a foe. Boy, does he mean it, Iceman adds as he gets a look at the elaborate interior of the chamber. Iceman, the youngest of the three X-Men, is about to question the sanity of any man who would inhabit such a fortress when something in the room grabs his attention: the injured body of a young boy about their age lying on the floor. Assuming he’s the kid they’re after, Iceman speeds across the room to help him.

At the other end of the room, Chico opens a hidden door and brings in a batch of armed reinforcements. He orders them to shoot down the invaders threatening their master, El Conquistador. They open fire, but Iceman manages to construct a think wall in time to halt the progress of the bullets. He fears it may not hold for long. Angel suggests they not look a gift horse in the mouth; the wall is at least keeping them alive.

Elsewhere in the room, Hank springs into action, knocking out the first wave of armed guards in a flurry of fists and feet. Although he knows nothing about the three mysterious teenagers who just arrived, it is patently clear they have come to effectuate his release! What else could he do but join them in the frenzied fray?

“You never use a small word when a big one will do, eh, kid?” Angel asks as he dive-bombs a soldier. “That’s okay—your fists are even bigger than your mouth!” Hank claims he hasn’t seen anything until he’s seen his pedal extremities at work; one might say they’re the kicker!

For the grand finale, Iceman encloses the rest of the guards in a curtain of ice. As he looks at the block of immobilized misfits, he wonders aloud the current going price of fresh, frozen finks. Cyclops, meanwhile, commends his teammate’s efficient wrap-up. This may be the fastest they’ve ever completed an assignment, he adds. Angel agrees, hoping they set a new record in the professor’s notebook. Hank, however, advises they not count their roasted pheasants before they’re under glass; don’t they hear that whirring screech? It spells trouble!

Hank McCoy has never been more right in his young years—for the sun is rising, and bringing incredible energy with it! In the citadel’s control room, El Conquistador rejoices as he monitors the surplus of incoming energy. He now has more power than any man has ever held at his fingertips, he gloats! The invading fools are too late to save the world from its first-warning cataclysm!

The X-Men watch in horror. He’s about to press the doomsday button, Angel shouts! They’re about to attack when a voice in their head commands them to flee the premises at once.

El Conquistador, meanwhile, finds himself overwhelmed with incoming energy. Instead of traveling into his transmitters, he’s horrified to discover it flowing directly into his body! He lets out an anguished cry as the entire building erupts in a fireball of pent-up energy.

Outside the castle, the X-Men rendezvous with Professor X, who arrives on the scene in his car. He explains to them that the explosion was his doing; he used his telekinetic powers to alter the circuits of El Conquistador’s machinery. Realizing the new mutant is not with them, Professor X asks what happened to the boy. Iceman, pointing up the hill, directs their attention to three figures fleeing the explosion. He must have stayed behind to find and free his folks, Iceman presumes. What spunk!

Later, at the McCoy home, the X-Men stand alongside their new teammate, Hank McCoy. All of them now wear the blue and black disguises denoting Professor Xavier’s X-Men. Cyclops explains to Hank that the professor dropped an amazing radio blanket over Hank’s hometown that erased anyone’s memory of his amazing powers! “So none are cognizant of the fact that there was once a boy called Beast!” Hank says. “Too bad—I was becoming fond of that name!”

Worry not, Professor X tells him; he can retain it as a member of the X-Men! “Welcome to the club, Beast!”

With the later addition of Marvel Girl, that club became the most unusual fighting team of all time. And they fought the most unusual villains ever seen, including the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, led by Magneto!

End flashback…
“Yes, that’s the way it was,” Beast says, resuming his soliloquy. “But that big-worded, pleasantly ugly Beast is no more, because I dared to trifle with unknown forces… and I became a monster.” Looking forlorn, Beast turns and walks toward the darkness. “Well, that’s all I had to say. I’ll go now… but I’ll be back when you least expect me. So long, folks,” he says as the shadows envelope him. “It’s been fun!”

Characters Involved: 

Beast (X-Man)

in flashbacks only:

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Professor X (X-Men)

El Conquistador



Edna Andrews (Beast’s mother)

Norton McCoy (Beast’s father)

Uncle Bob (Beast’s uncle)

Jennifer Nyles (Beast’s study partner)

Football coach

Football team

Box office clerk

Morty (police officer)



Mr. Marlin (Norton’s boss)

John (Norton’s colleague)

Electrical Engineer (Norton’s colleague)

A trio of bandits

Various soldiers

Other police officers


U.S. military officers

Story Notes: 

Beast transformed into a gray-haired monster in AMAZING ADVENTURES (2nd series) #11.

The first and final pages of this issue are new material. The rest is an abridged reprint of the back-up story detailing Beast’s origin that ran from X-MEN (1st series) #49-53. Most of the materials omitted are splash pages that recapped the previous installment’s events.

On his blog,, writer Steve Englehart has this to say about this issue’s reason for being: “The series was actually shut down with #16, but its replacement in AMAZING ADVENTURES was late so I whipped out a mostly-reprint issue, stringing together the Beast's origin story from a serial in the earlier X-MEN book with some new bridging material. Since #16 left us in mid-story, I concluded it a few months later in THE INCREDIBLE HULK #161.”

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