Art by Mike Sekowsky.
|First appearance||Showcase #66 (January 1967)|
|Created by||Bob Haney (writer)
Mike Sekowsky (artist)
|Alter ego||Michael Payson Maxwell|
|Abilities||Telepathic control over animals
Able to fuse two animals into a chimera
Superhuman strength, speed, endurance, and agility
Heightened senses (Possibly exclusive to the DCAU only)
B'wana Beast appeared in Showcase #66–67 and was created by Bob Haney and Mike Sekowsky. He did not appear again until an issue of DC Challenge, in which he and Djuba teamed up with Congo Bill. His next appearance, around the same time, was in Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985. He then showed up in Swamp Thing Annual #3 in 1987. After that, he appeared in Animal Man #1, 2, 3, 4, and 13 in 1988, subsequently returning as the Shining Man in Animal Man #47–50.
Fictional character biography
In his most well-known incarnation, his given name is Mike Maxwell. Maxwell possesses a helmet and elixir that grant him his powers. These powers are mind control and the ability to fuse together two living animals to make one powerful entity under B'wana Beast's control.
With the help of his gorilla companion, Djuba, in a secret hideout at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, ranger Mike Maxwell drinks the aforementioned elixir and dons the helmet to become B'wana Beast. In the origin issue, he fights Hamid Ali, "He Who Never Dies."
In the initial story arc of Animal Man, written by Grant Morrison, B'wana Beast journeys to America to rescue Djuba, who has been captured by scientists and infected with an experimental form of anthrax. He fails to save Djuba and is himself infected with the disease, but he is cured by Animal Man, who mimics B'wana Beast's powers in order to merge his white blood cells into forms capable of fighting off the disease. In Animal Man #13 (July 1989), also written by Morrison, Maxwell decides to retire and performs a ceremony to find a successor. He passes the helmet and elixir on to a South African activist named Dominic Mndawe, who assumes the name Freedom Beast.
Mike Maxwell returns in Animal Man #47 (May 1992), corrupted and possessed by the destructive force called the Antagon and transformed into the evil Shining Man. In the ensuing battle, Maxwell is killed. B'wana Beast is brought back for the DC reboot Justice League International. He is turned down, but it is unknown whether he will become a member later.
Powers and abilities
B'wana Beast possesses great strength, speed, hand-to-hand combat and hunting and tracking abilities. He also has the ability to communicate with animals. He also has the ability to merge two animals together to form a chimera or (how he puts it) he merges the best of two different things to create an unstoppable force. He can merge up to four things together which can include a human, but this requires great concentration. He can also undo the merge if the need arises. For the most part, once these animals are merged, B'wana is able to acquire their aid in situations of need. Whether this is due to his ability to communicate with them or an instinct on their part is not known.
In other media
- B'wana Beast was among the characters to be featured in a DC Comics cartoon hour produced by Filmation.
- B'wana Beast was featured in the Justice League Unlimited episode "This Little Piggy" voiced by Peter Onorati. He was recruited by Batman for his superior tracking skills in the search for Wonder Woman, who had been mystically transformed into a pig by Circe. In this incarnation, B'wana Beast was given a thick New York accent and blue collar personality to match, and his abilities were presented as animalistic feats of agility and the ability to communicate with animals. According to the DVD commentary for the episode, B'wana Beast's seductive growl to Zatanna was actually performed by producer/character designer James Tucker. Peter Onorati could not quite get it, so Tucker stepped in to perform it. Additionally, B'wana Beast appears in the episode "Panic in the Sky", in which he battles against the invaders of the Watchtower.
- B'wana Beast appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. Mike Maxwell was an American wrestler in Africa with low self-esteem who lost a local wrestling match to Djuba (in this incarnation, Djuba is a masked ape). Later, after wiping his face with water contaminated by radioactive waste, he develops his merging powers and later wins a fight against Djuba earning his mask and title. In "Enter the Outsiders!", he helps Batman in his fight with Black Manta. B'wana Beast returns in "Gorillas in Our Midst!" helping Vixen stop Killer Moth and his henchmen from robbing an armored car while Batman was away. Later in the episode, Vixen asks B'wana Beast to marry her. In "The Siege of Starro! Part One", B'wana Beast assists Batman and heroes Booster Gold, Firestorm, Captain Marvel in stopping Faceless Hunter and the Starro invasion. The Hunter is fascinated by B'wana's abilities, and kidnaps him when Starro is defeated. In "The Siege of Starro! Part Two", Faceless Hunter uses B'wana Beast's powers to fuse together the Starro parasites into a giant, destructive beast. When Batman defeats Faceless Hunter, B'wana uses all of his power to pull the Starro beast apart, sacrificing himself in the process. A heartbroken Vixen and the other heroes erect a statue to him after he dies. A voiceover by him declares "I'd do it all over again, in a hummingbird's heartbeat." B'wana Beast appears in the final episode "Mitefall" at the wrap party where all the characters gather to celebrate the end of their show at the wrap party where he is seen reuniting with Vixen.
- B'wana Beast appears in Teen Titans Go! episode You're Fired! He is seen amongst the heroes auditioning to be Beast Boy's replacement. He is the second person to audition and is immediately ridiculed by Cyborg. Demonstrating his powers, he fuses Starfire's pet Silkie with a rabbit. Horrified with the results, the Titans immediately reject him.
- B'wana Beast appears in the DC Universe Online.
- Four B'wana Beast action figures have been produced by toy manufacturer Mattel. The first was released as part of the company's Justice League Unlimited line in a six-figure boxed set (along with Crimson Fox, Superman, Deadman, Commander Steel, and Vibe).
- Two figures of his likeness from the Batman: The Brave and the Bold TV series have been produced, one in the five-inch scale (called "Machete B'wana Beast" after his accessories and action feature) and another in a two-pack with Batman as part of the smaller Action League series (similar in size and design to the Marvel Super Hero Squad figures). A six-inch scale DC Universe Classics figure of B'wana Beast was released in the "Justice in the Jungle" two-pack with Animal Man in December 2009 as a MattyCollector.com internet exclusive.