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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beast: The Intellectual Unconventional

Of all of the intellectuals in comics, Beast is the most well-rounded. An accomplished biochemist, he is one of the few scientifically minded superheroes with an equal passion for the humanities.

Defenders #133 brought this to the forefront when Beast jumped for excitement during a chance encounter with an unassuming Professor Frye, for a conversation smattered with subtext.

Beast: Professor, I just had to tell you that your book on Blake was one of the most brilliant pieces of criticism I've ever read! It really enabled me to see the visionary epic form as quite distinct from the romantic! It opened up worlds to me! I particularly appreciated the insight into the apocalyptic imagination that the events of his era generated.

Frye: Why--I believe you do understand the thrust of my inquiry, young--er, man!

Beast: Have you, I wonder, read Bloom's book on Blake and revolution?

Frye: Of course! But a political approach seems almost tangential--

A remarkable aspect of this exchange was the way it made sense even to those unfamiliar with the works of William Blake, or the scholarship of Northrop Frye and Harold Bloom. Allusions to apocalyptic themes certainly had their place in the Defenders.
Peter B. Gillis wrote Defenders #133. The above image of Beast first appeared in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

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