Bumblebee: One Year Later.
Art by Tony Daniel.
|First appearance||as Karen Beecher:
Teen Titans #45
Teen Titans #48 (June 1977)
|Created by||Bob Rozakis|
|Alter ego||Karen Beecher-Duncan|
|Team affiliations||Doom Patrol
|Abilities||Shrunk to insect-like size. Her solar-powered suit enables her to fly (via bee-like wings), fire sonic force blasts, and unleash electrical 'stings'.|
Bumblebee (real name Karen Beecher-Duncan) is a fictional character, existing in DC Comics' main shared universe. She is a former member of the Teen Titans and a current member of the Doom Patrol. First appearing in Teen Titans #45 (December 1976), Karen adopted the Bumblebee identity three issues later, becoming DC's first African American female superhero.
Fictional character biography
Scientist Karen Beecher was the girlfriend of Teen Titans member the Herald (a.k.a. Mal Duncan). In order to help make Herald look good in front of the team, Beecher secretly made herself a bumblebee-themed supersuit and attacked the Teen Titans. She escaped without this ruse being revealed.
When she later explained to Mal and the Titans what she had done, they were impressed enough to offer her membership, which she accepted. She and Mal subsequently moved to the new Titans West team, having relocated to San Francisco. When the Titans team dissolved for a time, Karen and Mal married and 'retired' from superheroics. Karen took a job with S.T.A.R. Labs, where she designs non-lethal weaponry.
They have returned to crime-fighting from time to time to assist the team, most notably during a short-lived revival of Titans West and the JLA/Titans event, which reunited everyone involved with the team. A fight broke out over the fate of Victor Stone, Cyborg. Bumblebee personally fought Zauriel, a member of the Justice League. Despite the assistance of the current Supergirl, Bumblebee was swiftly defeated.
Following this, Mal and Karen briefly joined the latest incarnation of Titans West (now called Titans L.A.), but this incarnation of the team never really got off the ground, and the heroes returned to their lives of semi-retirement.
Several years later, Mal and Karen briefly returned to action as part of a team of over two dozen past and present Titans who were called in to stop a rampaging Doctor Light.
Infinite Crisis and One Year Later
Bumblebee and her husband are among the heroes recruited by Donna Troy to help avert a coming crisis that threatened the existence of the universe. After a battle in space, most of the heroes were trapped by a Zeta Beam Ray that Adam Strange was hoping to use for teleporting away the heroes from the rift in space. Due to the ray interactions with the rift itself, the Zeta Ray altered Bumblebee's physiology, apparently transferring her body mass to Hawkgirl. This left Bumblebee approximately six inches in height and Hawkgirl some 25 feet tall.
In Teen Titans vol. 3, #34, Bumblebee is shown to have joined the Doom Patrol sometime in the past year along with her husband (now known as Vox) and Beast Boy. She must now take medicine developed by Doom Patrol leader Niles Caulder to prevent her heart from going into cardiac arrest, due to her tiny form.
Much like Beast Boy, she now strongly resembles her animated counterpart in costume and hair style.
Per Birds of Prey #100, Karen—along with numerous other DCU heroines—was contacted by Barbara Gordon and asked to join the expanded roster of the latter's team, the Birds of Prey. However, the team disbanded before she participated in any missions.
Karen is presently a member of the Doom Patrol. Due to medicinal efforts from Dr. Caulder, she has grown to a height of seven inches, and she can live in a dollhouse.
As of Doom Patrol (vol. 5) #1, Karen is now a divorcee'. In issue #18, Karen rejoined the team after months of inactivity due to her divorce from Malcolm. Now sporting a new costume and a Beehive hairdo, Karen returned to active duty just in time for a confrontation with the Secret Six, who had come to the team's home of Oolong Island in order to claim it in the name of a teenaged crime lord. In the ensuing battle, Bumblebee inexplicably vanishes after a brief tussel with Bane, while her teammates ultimately fight the Six to a draw. As the members of the Secret Six are being forcibly deported from Oolong, Elasti-Girl stops Rag Doll and forces him to empty out his pockets, where Karen is found tied up with her mouth duct-taped shut. Ragdoll reluctantly returns Bumblebee to her teammates, telling them that he had wanted to keep her as a "souvenir".
Powers and abilities
Bumblebee has no true superpowers and her abilities are derived from her scientific super-suit. The suit enhances her strength, acts as body armor and allows her to fly and create painful sonic blasts. She is currently stuck at a shrunken size and now possess superpowers where she can now fly and produce sonic blasts.
- A toddler version of Bumblebee appears as one of the protagonists of the all-ages Tiny Titans series. Here, she is portrayed as the girlfriend of Plasmus, who is depicted as being more of a gentle giant than an outright villain.
- Bumblebee appears as part of Cyborg's Titans East roster in the Titans Tomorrow storyline. Unlike her canon incarnation, this version of Bumblebee still retained her supersuit and normal height.
In other media
- Bumblebee (voiced by T'Keyah Keymah) appears in the Teen Titans animated series as an assertive, highly skilled, and cocky former H.I.V.E. student who was really an undercover agent and had enrolled to infiltrate the facility and learn of their motives and secrets for Aqualad. She had been keeping track of H.I.V.E long before Cyborg posed as Stone. Bumblebee was able to resist Brother Blood's mind control powers eventually the first time; "There's not a man alive who can tell me what to do!" she explained to Cyborg. Her abilities as a H.I.V.E. student entrusted her to Brother Blood, but Blood was shocked to find that she was also a spy when she assisted Cyborg in stopping Brother Blood's latest plan.
Unlike her comic incarnation, Bumblebee does not wear a mask or goggles. She also uses two separately carried, B-shaped electric stingers as weapons, and her flight and shrinking abilities appear to be a natural feature, not bestowed by a supersuit[original research?]. While reduced in size, the stingers lose potency, inflicting only painful shocks, but her strength remains unchanged.
Blood escaped to Steel City where he was followed by Bumblebee and Aqualad. While in Steel City, Bumblebee and Aqualad formed Titans East with Speedy and Más y Menos. Cyborg soon followed and helped the team build their tower, but Blood entered with his new Cyborg copies and beat the Titans East whom he then placed under mind-control to attack and capture Cyborg, whom Blood wanted to examine. Cyborg then battled Blood and won, freeing the Titans East. He then decided to return to his fellow Titans and appointed Bumblebee as the new leader of Titans East.
Also, along with her fellow Titans East members, she watched over Titans Tower in Jump City, defeating Andre Le Blanc without trouble. While fighting Control Freak, she was forced to stop a subway car while remaining in her small stature.
Bumblebee was overpowered by Punk Rocket and Angel in "Calling All Titans". She somehow got rescued by Starfire and joined the Titans' assault on the Brotherhood of Evil's lair.
Bumblebee has made a few appearances in the Teen Titans Go! comic book series (#20, 25, & 29). She also appears in issue #39 and, similar to the mainstream comics, falls in love with Herald - though this is conditioned by an overzealous Larry's actions in playing Cupid for the Titans.
- Bumblebee and the rest of Titans East made cameos in a flashback during the "Teen Titans Go! (TV series)" episode "Star-liar".
- Karen Beecher appears in the Young Justice episode "Targets" voiced by Masasa Moyo. She appears as a normal high school student. She is the head of the cheerleading team named "The Bumblebees" in reference to her comic book incarnation's superhero persona. In episode 18, "Secrets", there is a Halloween party featuring many costumed cameos; one of which is Karen dressed up as Bumblebee. She also seems to be in a relationship with Mal Duncan. In "Happy New Year", the second season premiere, Karen has officially become Bumblebee and joined the team at some point within the five-year gap between seasons one and two.
- Beatty, Scott (2008), "Bumblebee", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, London: Dorling Kindersley, p. 63, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5
- Nubia was introduced several years earlier in Wonder Woman #204 (January 1973). However, her role has always been that of a supporting character in the Wonder Woman series, and not a costumed crimefighter.
- Beatty, Scott (2008), "Doom Patrol", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 109, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Secret Six (vol. 3) #30
- Doom Patrol (vol. 5) #19
- Teen Titans (vol. 3) #99