Oddball of the Week: B’wana Be(ast) Startin’ Somethin’?

by Matt Tuck

093022A-1024x536 Oddball of the Week: B'wana Be(ast) Startin' Somethin'?It’s time again for the celebration of the weird and wacky members of the comic world, and there’s no odder than B’wana Beast.

Basically, since time began, people have imagined what it would be like to combine different animals. The Ancient Greeks had all sorts of mashups in their mythical stories. The most famous was the Chimera, which was a fire-breathing lion combined with a goat that had a poisonous snake for a tail. There also was the Persian Manticore, which was a Sphinx-like creature that had a human head on a lion’s body with bird wings. It’s only fitting that comic books carry on that fine tradition of making super creatures thanks to B’wana Beast.

With comics traditionally taking inspiration from mythology, it’s no wonder B’wana’s main power is combining animals. Yes, mixing and matching animal parts into some unholy abomination is about as interesting and disgusting as it sounds.

In honor of the butt of so many jokes over the years, let’s pull back the curtain on B’wana Beast as today’s Oddball of the Week.

SHOWCASE #66

Showcase-66-201x300 Oddball of the Week: B'wana Be(ast) Startin' Somethin'?

The first time readers met the odd B’wana Beast was in 1967’s Showcase #66. Here, fans were treated to his origin story as Mike Maxwell’s plane crashed, and he was stranded on Mount Kilimanjaro. He was then taken prisoner by a red gorilla, but some sort of magical water (this was the Silver Age, so…yeah) gave him enhanced size and strength. Maxwell laid the smackdown on that ape so bad that it bribed the guy with a magical helmet. The new helmet gave Maxwell control over animals, and he proclaimed himself B’wana Beast, the superhero of choice for Africa, which didn’t age well whatsoever. 

Like most Oddball picks, Showcase #66 hasn’t been in demand in, well, ever. The highest grade sold this year has been the 5.0, which brought $60 in May. There are no records for any 9.8s being traded online, but a 9.6 sold went for $552 in June of last year.

ANIMAL MAN #13

Animal-Man-13-196x300 Oddball of the Week: B'wana Be(ast) Startin' Somethin'?

Of course, there would be a link between Animal Man and B’wana Beast. These two have too many similarities to not be paired up. In 1989, superstar writer Grant Morrison brought the characters together and introduced the second B’wana Beast. When Maxwell was ready to retire, he passed on the magical helmet and the weird power set to a South African activist, Dominic Mndawe. Instead of B’wana Beast, Dominic assumed the title of Freedom Beast. 

Of course, it wasn’t a permanent change, which is the standard formula for moniker transfers. When Freedom Beast was corrupted and turned evil, Maxwell took up the helmet again and returned to his role as B’wana Beast.

Since there’s no movie or streaming talk about B’wana Beast (or Freedom Beast, for that matter), this issue is dirt cheap. There’s only been one graded sale in the past two years, and that was when a 9.2 sold for $14 in 2020. Odds are you can find this issue in the dollar bin at your local comic shops.

JUST ANOTHER B’WANA BE

As we saw in Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold, B’wana Beast has real potential on the big or small screen. This is an age of unique, tongue-in-cheek characters that aren’t taken too seriously, and B’wana Beast fits that mold.

Since we know Peacemaker survived the budget cuts of ‘22, I would not be surprised to see either Maxwell or Mndawe appear in the show’s second season.

Want more Oddballs in your life?

00080221C_Green-Footer Oddball of the Week: B'wana Be(ast) Startin' Somethin'?*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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1 comment

Rich Arnold October 2, 2022 - 1:31 pm

He was just killed again in this week’s DC vs Vampires #9…..lol

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