Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why B'wana Beast? - P. A. Nolte

In college, Mike Maxwell made friends with Rupert Kenboya, son of Chief Kilo of the Zambesi. When Rupert returned to Africa to serve as a Police Commissioner, Maxwell joined him, accepting a job as a game warden. But, their plane went down on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and while Ken tried to revive Maxwell with some water from a cave, they were beset upon by a large, purple gorilla. Maxwell sprang to action, stronger and faster than before, and after defeating Djuba, the gorilla, he was given a mask that lets him communicate with and command animals, as well as combine them into more powerful hybrids.

A creation of Bob Haney, also known for co-creating the Teen Titans and Metamorpho, and Mike Sekowsky, the premiere artist on Justice League of America, B'wana Beast's adventure fighting the possibly-immortal Hamid Ali and his giant, orange, crocodile-shaped tank from DC Showcase #66-67 (1967) somehow failed to resonate with readers, and he was doomed to the back-issue bin for almost twenty years. When Grant Morrison re-introduced him in the late 80's, Maxwell teamed up with Animal Man to save Djuba from wayward research scientists, ultimately retiring and passing on his mantle, only to re-emerge some time later as the evil Shining Man. When he was promptly killed. 

And that's pretty much it. 

According to there was supposed to be a third DC Showcase issue, but Sekowsky found the concepts to be racist, left the project, and was never replaced. He was probably justified. And, while the jungle tropes used were outdated by a few decades when the story was first printed nearly 50 years ago, B'wana Beast is still just so darn cool. Well, ... maybe not "cool." 

With less than a dozen issues under his loincloth, Mike Maxwell's defining characteristics are still up in the air. His comic origin plays like a greatest hits mashup of unlikely circumstances just begging to be streamlined, and his powers are essentially Aquaman's but on land, except Aquaman never merged a seahorse and a hammerhead shark together to attack a submarine. In his appearances on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, he wasn't even a game warden, but a wrestler who was splashed with radioactive waste. 

So, in the spirit of exploration, you have a cumbersome (and potentially offensive) name, a bizarre set of powers, an exotic locale, the unusual battle cry of "KI KI KI KIUIIIIIII!", and ultimate free reign in tone and canonicity. 

What more could you ask for?


  1. Thanks for the B'wana Beast prompt . . .



    Derek Adnams

    Page 1 – (6 Panels)

    1.1: Exterior, a bright morning sky and a barrage of nuclear warheads raining down from heaven, all travelling at the same angle across the panel.

    B’wana Beast (caption): It rained bullets on the day I became vermin.

    B’wana Beast (caption): The end of everything arriving through sound and light.

    1.2: B’wana Beast standing on the rooftop of a sky scraper, back to the reader, looking out as mushroom clouds erupt in the distance.

    B’wana Beast (caption): At the bidding of the sun and the devil and the warrior goddess I arrived on these lifeless metal shores.

    B’wana Beast (quietly): I miss my mountain.

    B’wana Beast (caption): One volcano transformed into countless others.

    1.3: B’wana Beast picking-up a cockroach, studying it.

    B’wana Beast (caption): Never again will I touch the delicate grass of the Serengeti.

    B’wana Beast (caption): If it hasn’t been burned to ash it will freeze in the winter ahead.

    1.4: The big transformation panel! B’wana Beast using his powers of metamorphosis on himself, morphing his physical form to that of a weird human-cockroach hybrid with enormous antennae.

    B’wana Beast (screaming): KI KI KI KIUIIIIIII!!!

    1.5: Cockroach B’wana beast descending down the wall of the building he had been standing on, upside down. He is almost at the pavement and we can see terrified citizens running past him, looking over their shoulders at the terror we beheld in Panel 1.2.

    B’wana Beast (caption): They broadcast terror, a stampede from inevitability and their end.

    B’wana Beast (caption): While I . . .

    1.6: Cockroach B’wana Beast scuttling into the shadows, the lone partially human survivor of whatever war old men decided was worth extinction.

    B’wana Beast (caption): I am pulled into the cold and the dark and the immortality of a new family.

    B’wana Beast (caption): What have you forced me to become?

    1. Hot damn those are some electrifying captions. I was planning on picking out a favourite, but each time I thought I'd found one, you busted out an even better line. That said, I do feel really good about your opener and closer - both solid lines that really set the atmosphere of it all.


Feedback is what every good writer wants and needs, so please provide it in the white box below
If you want to play along at home, feel free to put your scripts under the Why? post for the week.