If you picked up Secret Empire #5 today, and you're an X-Men fan, you may have found yourself a little frustrated by the continued presentation of Doctor Henry 'Hank' McCoy. Because for a while now, the X-Men's Beast (the adult one) has been shown in a less than favourable light.
Here we have Beast, trussed up in his fancy outfit, as ambassador for New Tian, what California has become in the United States of Hydramerica, and having a happy little chat with Nazi-in-Chief, Captain America. All because, as he says, mutants now get a homeland.
Which is not Xavier's dream. And having Beast just roll over and present his belly for the fascists is so counter to decades of the character's history. But it does not fly in the face of how the character has been presented over the last few years.
I mean, it's not the first time. The original five X-Men, their adult versions, have been going through a rough time of late. Cyclops and Jean are dead. Archangel is, well, a murder-machine again, and depending on the week, either has his faculties or is a near-catatonic device of death. Iceman is the only one getting away unscathed, instead getting a fresh lease on life as a character with the revelation that he is in fact gay.
Weirdly, I just realised this is kinda reminiscent of how the original Generation X kids all got crapped on for years with the exception of M, who got greater character development and an elevated role.
Anyway, for years, it was Scott Summers who saw his character gradually worn down into an almost villain, before being taken out by Terrigen Mists and having his image used to start a race war between mutants and Inhumans.
But for much of the time this was happening, Hank McCoy, the jovial, paragon-like scientist that is Beast, has suffered an equal fall from grace.
Starting in Brian Michael Bendis' All-New X-Men, which saw Beast decide to take matters into his own hands and completely disrupt the time-stream by dragging the original five X-Men's younger selves to the present day, all to stop a make-believe mutant genocide he claimed Scott Summers would be responsible for.
This of course is an outright lie to convince them to come with him, showing him essentially abducting teenagers on false pretences, with completely unknowable consequences upon the space time continuum. Hell, it would even cause Uatu, the Watcher, to tell McCoy that the mutant disgusts him.
Ultimately, his fellow mutants, including his own younger self, would try to instigate an intervention for Beast's reckless use of science and tampering with the universe itself just to get his way (or, in his own mind, to do what's right for mutantkind).
He would have none of it and run off to the Inhumans, ostensibly to look for an answer to the Terrigen Mists problem that threatened mutants. However, in Inhumans vs. X-Men, when he learns the dire fact that the Mists were impregnating the entire atmosphere of the planet and would leave Earth uninhabitable to mutants, instead of standing up to fight or sharing his findings with the Inhumans, he decides that it means all mutants should run away.
Because that is just what we love our heroes saying, 'Impossible odds? Oops, time to run away!'. Never mind that this does not take into account mutants born after this supposed exodus, so Beast essentially condemns them to death because, well, guess they were just born at the wrong time.
What's more, the war between mutants and Inhumans ends, as does the threat of the Terrigen Mists, when Queen Medusa is actually told that the point of no return is fast approaching and she destroys the Mists herself, rather than see an entire group of people suffer and die for it. Beast only had to have told her, and the whole war could have been avoided.
And here we come to now. Where Beast comes across as a yellow-bellied suck-up, happy with their lot because at least they get a segregated nation (which, by the way, we have already seen is rife with border problems, terrorism and mutant on human hate crime).
So Beast continues on a downward spiral of negative characterisation, no longer the paragon, highly-intelligent and highly moral member of the X-Men that often characters came to advice and insight, but rather a mad scientist, reckless in his actions, who has all but given up on Xavier's dream for the peace of a mutant nation.
Do you think he'll get killed off at the end of it all too?