In the words of Sage, "The best way to stop Beast… is Beast."
That's the philosophy taken by January 24's X-Force #48, which finally pulls the trigger on something that's long been teased as a solution to the problem with Hank McCoy and his growing penchant for violence, manipulation, and good old fashioned war crimes.
But how does this long-fated twist go down, and what does it mean for Beast going forward? We'll break it all down right now.
Spoilers ahead for X-Force #48
X-Force #48 by writer Benjamin Percy, artist Robert Gill, colorist Guru eFX, and letterer Joe Caramagna opens with the current, present day Beast stealing a Krakoan battle suit made of Krakoan foliage, seemingly with the intent to grow himself a new secret headquarters somewhere out of X-Force's reach.
With present day Hank McCoy apparently finally going full villain, Sage reveals a secret No-Place chamber where she's been keeping one of Beast's private stash of clones, most of which were previously destroyed. She plans to bring the clone to life by implanting a copy of Hank's psyche into it, in a mechanical version of how The Five once combined their powers to bring mutants back to life.
The catch is, there's only one remaining copy of Hank's psyche available to imprint on the clone - and it's from way, way, way back in Beast's timeline. In fact, the issue even specifies exactly when, in real world terms.
The version of Beast that's imprinted onto the clone is from "circa New Defenders #142," which means, in real world terms, that the newly cloned Beast only has the character's memories up to around 1985 - after he served on the Avengers, but before he joined the other original X-Men in 1986's X-Factor #1.
That totally erases the character's modern history, from the time he first rejoined the X-Men after his original stint on the team before he even had blue fur, through the '90s, '00s, and of course all of his present day misdeeds.
It's also an interesting inversion of how Beast once brought his own teen self along with the rest of the original five X-Men forward in time in an attempt to bring the adult Cyclops back into the fold of the team.
The issue closes with the cloned Beast learning all about his own present day self's misdeeds, and setting off on his own to track his modern self to wherever he may have built his new base.
When the dust settles on the impending Beast vs. Beast showdown, will there be only one Hank McCoy left? Or will there be two - one hero, one villain? Or a secret, third option?
The story continues in X-Force #49 on February 21, in which Beast will reunite with his Avengers era best pal Wonder Man.
Beast and Wonder Man are two of the best superhero friends of all time.