It’s nighttime, and from the shadows, Beast watches.
His target—a flashlight-wielding security guard—patrols the grounds of the Brand Corporation, but not as usual. Bennie, the guard, cannot get over the funny feeling he is being watched. Paranoid, he tells himself to forget it; he’s clean. As long as he plays his game right, he will walk home free. Smoking a cigarette, Bennie strolls up to the main door, reminding himself to walk slowly and stay calm.
Up above, Beast runs along the rooftop of the industrial building, staying as close as possible to his target. He leaps on a power line suspended between two of the buildings and lurks after the suspicious security guard. Bennie notices nothing. Beast follows him all the way to the door of one of the building’s classified wings: Genetic Research Subdivision 12.
Once at the door, Bennie smiles deviously. After tonight, all his troubles should go away; he will be home free. He removes a leather pouch from his breast pocket. From the pouch, he produces a small, portable device, which he uses to melt the steel lock barricading the door. Bennie pushes the doors open; their rusted metal squeals.
At this moment, the Beast finally decides to act. He lunges forward. Bennie turns just in time to see the snarling face of his attacker, but he moves so slowly relative to the Beast that he fails to get out of the way. Beast, meanwhile, feels faster than ever. He feels the air whip past his thinly furred skin, catching at the mane of his silver-black hair. His attack connects and knocks the sluggish security guard to the ground. Beast then hurls him into the laboratory machinery, noting how light his victim’s body feels. It takes such little effort to throw him!
The battered Bennie suddenly draws a six-shooter from his holster. Although Beast orders him not to do it, Bennie fires the gun at him, hitting him in the torso. The fact that the furry, snarling beast can talk surprises Bennie more than the thunderous crack of the gun. He continues firing his gun at Beast even as he falls backward into a stack of boxes.
Beast struggles to focus on anything other than the sheer agony reverberating through his torso. He walked right into that gunshot; he needs to pull himself together; Hank, what’s happening to you? he asks himself. When Hank finally regains his senses, he stands up and lunges once more at the crooked security guard. The terrified Bennie fires round after round at the approaching monster. Hank definitely feels each round that hits his body; they seem to light a fire beneath his chest. Enraged, he strikes at Bennie once more, this time knocking him into the machinery with his powerful feet.
A horde of soldiers soon interrupts the private fray. Beast realizes someone must have tripped a security alarm—and that his interception here was not even necessary. He leaps out of the way of their gunfire and back into the shadows. Although the authorities would have captured Bennie the spy anyway, Beast assures himself that, at the very least, his presence didn’t cause any additional harm.
Bennie’s next actions quickly put a stop to that reassuring notion. He fires at the troops instead of fleeing or surrendering. They fire back, riddling fear-crazed spy with bullets. Hank blames himself; had he not attacked the man, might he not have fired at the arriving authorities? Morose, he slumps over and slinks back to his private laboratory. To his absolute horror, however, Beast now notices the clock hanging on his wall. “It can’t be that late,” he shouts. “Not that late!” He must check the genetic indicator immediately; if his energy level is too high, he will never be able to change back to his original form! His worst fear turns out to be correct; looking at the genetic indicator, Hank sees that the chemical processes in his body have reacted to completion. His metamorphosis, he realizes, is irreversible. “How could I have been such a fool?” he shouts.
Beast catches sight of a framed photo on his desk of his former companions, the X-Men, and hurls it across the room in shame. Everything he once was is gone; now he’s nothing but a beast. Henry McCoy ignores the salty tears streaking down his fur-lined face. He reaches for the shattered picture he flung across the room, groping its broken remains as if to gather up what little of his life he has left. His mind immediately goes to his memories of how this whole thing began…
Hank McCoy, the dashing mutant geek with a simian body frame dubbed the Beast, shakes hands with his fellow X-Men as he prepares to leave the Xavier Institute for the final time. His teammate Marvel Girl chides him for trying to sneak out unnoticed. Cyclops, however, comes to Hank’s defense; they are, after all, making his goodbye slightly uncomfortable! That’s putting it mildly, the jocular Beast says, admitting he feels overwhelmed. Iceman laughs; for a guy as prone to using polysyllabic words as Hank is, “overwhelmed” is indeed putting it mildly! Angel chimes in and lets Beast know that he, too, will miss him.
Professor X grabs Beast’s beefy hand and gives it a firm goodbye shake. On behalf of both the X-Men and himself, he wishes Hank—one of his finest students—the best of luck in his new position at the Brand Corporation. At this point, Jean leans in, throws her arm around Hank’s neck, and gives him a friendly farewell kiss on the cheek. She adds that he knows where to come if he wants to collect another! At this point, Bobby interrupts and reminds Hank he needs to get going; the Brand Corporation expects to see him at 9 A.M. Hank says goodbye one last time and walks of the office and to his room to grab his things. Once he exits the room, Jean admits she feels ready to burst into tears. Scott says he feels the same way; they will all surely miss him. “The only worry is—will he miss us?” Warren asks. “He’s got his wish at last—he’ll be able to study genetic mutation, and maybe he’ll forget the days when he was called—the Beast!”
In his room, Hank finishes packing up his things, concluding with the framed photo of him and his fellow X-Men. They have all grown to matter to him a great deal over the years. He intends to find a fitting place for them in his memories.
The X-Men see Hank off as he climbs into his car to leave. He feels a pain in his breast as they wave goodbye. He had wanted to sneak away without suffering through any of these farewells. When he drives away, he knows in his soul that this goodbye is forever.
A short while later, Hank arrives at the Brand Corporation headquarters and asks the security guard for directions to Mr. Grant’s office. He thanks the guard and looks in awe at the facility. He can barely believe that the Brand Corporation, one of the most prestigious research organizations in existence, now includes Hank McCoy as a member! Hank wants more than prestige, though. He wants to learn about himself, and what makes him a mutant—what makes him a freak.
After arriving in Mr. Grant’s office, Hank reaches over the man’s desk and shakes his hand. Mr. Grant cannot help but notice Hank’s incredible grip. Grant then gives him a tour of the facility, the most complete installation on the East Coast, with technology that rivals even that of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hank can do nothing but gape in astonishment. He had no idea how incredible the facility was, he tells Mr. Grant. Of course not, Mr. Grant answers; not many people know of its secrets! He boasts that the Brand Corporation employs enough brain-power to staff three-hundred universities—and it’s still growing!
During their tour, Mr. Grant and Hank encounter Miss Donaldson, an employee whom Grant wants Hank to meet. Miss Donaldson will be assisting Hank in his work with Professor Maddicks, Grant adds. Dumbstruck, Hank stares at the beautiful, blonde lab assistant with his mouth agape. Miss Donaldson says it will be a pleasure working with Hank—but Hank insists the pleasure will be all his. “Mister McCoy, you’ll turn my head!” Miss Donaldson says flirtatiously. “I’m not sure Professor Maddicks would approve at all!”
“He doesn’t, Miss Donaldson!” a bearded, cantankerous man says from behind. It is none other than Professor Carl Maddicks himself. “Get one thing straight, McCoy—” he says to Hank, “—I didn’t ask for you, and I don’t need any help!” Hank tries to assuage his fears, but Maddicks cuts him off. He has grown sick and tired of administrative interference and has all the assistance he needs. Finally, Mr. Grant interjects and assures Maddicks that Hank’s work—a privately funded project of his own design—will have no bearing on Carl’s.
After the professor’s little fit, Miss Donaldson walks Hank out to his car. She apologizes for Carl’s nasty temper; he has been under terrible strain lately. Hank tells her that much is obvious, but adds that he isn’t flustered by bucolic ogres! He tells Miss Donaldson he will see her tomorrow and shuts his door.
To Hank, what happens over the next few days feels like a dream. He and Miss Donaldson grow closer and closer until she finally asks Hank to take her out to dinner. While clasping hands over a gourmet meal at a fancy restaurant, they share stories, feelings, and long, passionate looks. Later, as Hank drives Miss Donaldson home after dinner one night, she asks if he has ever seen Long Island Sound at night. He admits he and the sound are strangers. She finally asks him to use her first name—Linda—before arriving on the beach under the full moon. North Shore glistens like a beach made of diamond crystals—but Hank barely notices. His mind, he admits, is on other things. Linda takes his hand and runs along the shore. As he follows close behind, Hank experiences a sensation he hasn’t felt since he was a child. For a brief instance, he stops thinking and caring about the misshapen body he hides under his specially tailored clothes. He laughs when Linda laughs, he feels the sand crunching beneath his feet, and he relishes in the wind flowing through his hair. Hank McCoy feels the evening in a way he never has before. To cap off an already perfect night. Linda Donaldson turns to Hank and kisses him passionately on the lips.
Sometime later, Beast, dressed in his old X-Men duds, leaps and bounces around his apartment. “Admit it, Hank McCoy—you’re inordinately pleased with yourself, aren’t you?” he asks himself. Why shouldn’t he be? A beautiful girl loves him, and he loves her in return! Bounding toward his open window, he breathes in the loveliness of the world and the beauty of the universe—a universe that, right now, feels like it’s all his! It’s at this point that Hank stops trying to be someone he isn’t. The assurance and confidence he never felt as an adolescent have suddenly become the property of Hank McCoy, the man—and no one can ever take this from him.
In the weeks that follow his first magical evening with Linda, Hank immerses himself in his work: the study of his own genetic structure. Professor Maddicks makes a habit of interrupting the bright young researcher as often as possible. Claiming he only need report the specifics of his research to Mr. Grant, Hank kicks Maddicks out of his lab one day so he can concentrate on programming a new cell diagram. Maddicks does not take this order well. “You’ll regret that, McCoy,” Maddicks declares. “Right now you’re the number-one brain-boy here, but understand this, my friend: Carl Maddicks still pulls the strings which make Grant dance, regardless of his current—indiscretions.” With that, Maddicks leaves.
Much later in his life, Hank will wonder if he should have heeded the warning Maddicks gave him. At this point, however, he is so focused on his work regarding genetic mutation that he gives it no thought. He continues working and eventually creates a genetic extractor that allows him to dilute the precipitate of the hormonal extract that causes mutation! Hank holds the bubbling flask high in the air in triumph. Unbeknownst to him, Professor Carl Maddicks observes from the shadows.
Deciding he needs to report his findings immediately, Hank McCoy rushes down the hallway, pondering the implications of his research as he goes. If used correctly, his discovery might allow scientists to turn any person into a mutant for a carefully controlled period of time! He cannot wait to tell Mr. Grant. As he runs down the hall, however, he passes the office of Carl Maddicks and hears the devious man making a suspicious phone call. “McCoy’s on to something—I can feel it!” Maddicks says into the phone. “Of course I’m sure. Don’t play games with me, Agent Nine.” Intrigued, Hank continues to eavesdrop. “I’ve contacted our man in security—he’ll be ready to move at ten thirty-four. McCoy usually leaves his lab by ten,” Maddicks says. He pauses. “You know that? Very well. I’ll inform Ben that the operation is on.”
Hank has heard enough to know he must do something to halt this spy network. He slips away in silence, run backs to his laboratory, and contemplates what to do. He cannot just change into his Beast costume and attack; any employee of the Brand Corporation would instantly recognize a build as unique as his. Hank considers going back to the X-Men to hide, but drops this idea as well. Instead, he decides to ingest his own recently created mutagenic chemical in hopes of altering his own appearance. He does not know what happens when a mutant mutates even further, but decides to give it a chance, telling himself he has no choice.
Of course, Hank’s presumption that he has no choice isn’t exactly true. He secretly believes his newfound ego is just getting the best of him. Regardless, Hank drinks the flask of misty liquid, immediately sending himself on a haunting trip of unexpected consequences. His muscles expand, tearing through his already oversized lab clothes. Meanwhile, his fangs enlarge, his ears grow points, his hair lengthens into two spiked prongs, and—most drastically—a thick coat of grey fur sprouts all over his body. Hank McCoy, the former X-Man known as the Beast, literally transforms into a creature befitting of his namesake.
“Should’ve thought about the clothes,” Beast says as he examines his new, furry form. He realizes he should have thought about a lot of things too. Why is he even doing this? He wonders if he’s trying to prove something to himself. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that Hank McCoy is now truly a beast, and one with a mission to accomplish. He leaps out the office window, bounds off a parked car, and soars back up to the adjacent rooftop, confident that no one—including the security guard patrolling the streets below—will recognize him in this form. For the first time in three weeks, Hank feels truly alive, as though he’s doing what he was born to do. He even notices that he’s stopped speaking in polysyllables. Now, he’s nothing but a beast!
Beast, enraged, stares at the ticking clocks hanging from his laboratory walls. He suspects the chemical he ingested somehow affected his metabolic time-sense. Time seemed to pass slowly for him, and now, he is forever trapped in this furry, monstrous form. That one hour has become a lifetime! “Why did I do it?” he asks himself. “What was I trying to prove??” He lashes out at the clocks in his lab, smashing them to pieces. His fury leads him out the window and into the streets. Beast charges down the street, intent on making the man he holds responsible pay for what he has done to him: Carl Maddicks.
Elsewhere, the authorities hold Professor Carl Maddicks in custody. It seems the undercover security guard turned in his accomplice’s name as he lay dying. Maddicks curses the foolish spy; why did he have to talk? Suddenly, the security guards hear a loud thumping noise on the other side of the door. They back away cautiously. They ask Maddicks if it’s his friends coming to save him, but Maddicks has no idea whom that could possibly be. That’s because Carl Maddicks doesn’t have any friends, Beast says as he kicks the door down and smashes into the guards! Maddicks only has enemies—enemies like the Beast!
The security guards try to keep the Beast away from Maddicks, his obvious target, but Beast easily overpowers them. Nothing can stop him now, he tells the guards. One of them pulls a gun and tells Beast to stand down; he cannot tell if he is a human or a monster, but either way, he prefers not to shoot. Beast, stepping forward, calls the guard a fool. The guard fires back in response. A series of bullets slam into Beast’s chest, knocking him back a few steps and giving him trouble breathing, but by no means putting him out completely. In fact, once the burning subsides, Beast realizes the change within in is complete; he is now something entirely different. He feels a smile forming on his face. Turning to the frightened guards, Beast snarls and throws them out of his way, like leaves tossed about by the wind.
He finally reaches Professor Maddicks and forces him to the ground with a powerful kick. Beast then leans over Maddicks and places his meaty hands around the scientist’s throat. He squeezes. Only one sensation can calm him now: the moment of the kill. However, as the professor goes limp in his hands, Hank regains control of himself and pulls away. He almost strangled a man, and he doesn’t even know why! As much as he would like to blame his transformation on Maddicks, he knows the fault is truly his own. Beast turns to the window and jumps out into the night air to gather his thoughts.
Shortly after Beast leaves, the elusive Agent Nine arrives at the scene of Carl’s attack. “I’m afraid you’ve displeased our master, Professor Maddicks,” Agent Nine says. “I’ve just received word I’m to replace you in your position.” Maddicks looks at his fellow double-agent in horror. He begs forgiveness. It wasn’t his fault; some hideous monster attacked him! Agent Nine already knows this. “Unfortunately, that’s hardly an excuse for incompetence—” Agent Nine says as she draws her gun, “—and incompetence deserves only one reward. I’m sorry, Carl. I’ll try to do better than you ever did.” She fires her gun at Professor Carl Maddicks’s head, and the flash from the gun illuminates her own face—the face of the beautiful Miss Linda Donaldson. With her target eliminated, she coolly walks out of the room and back to her quarters to initiate the next phase of her espionage.
Meanwhile, Beast bounds through the darkened streets, intent on making sense of the events of the night. He has changed in ways other than the obvious physical ones. Tonight, he learned a valuable lesson about the responsibilities of self-confidence. Perhaps, now that he is forever doomed to be a beast, he understands what it truly means to be a man.