Membership: None identified

Purpose: World conquest, of course!

Affiliations: People's Defense Force (Madame X, Scarlet Beetle(s), el Toro, Voice, unidentified communists);
former agents of Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff);
former agents of East Berlin communists, and later, Hungarian communists

Enemies: Giant-Man (Henry Pym), Lee Kearns, Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff), Vision ("Victor Shade"), Wasp (Janet Van Dyne), West Coast Avengers (Dr. Pym, Hawkeye/Clint Barton, Mockingbird/Bobbi Barton, Moon Knight/Marc Spector, Tigra/Greer Nelson, Wonder Man/Simon Williams)

Base of Operations: Currently unrevealed;
   formerly East Germany and Hungary

First Appearance: Tales to Astonish I#60/1 (October, 1964)

Powers/Abilities: The Beasts of Berlin had the strength, speed, and agility of normal gorillas (presumably); however, because they were exposed to a ray projector, they possessed human-level intelligence -- afterwards, while they initially could not speak, they understood human language and could communicate their own thoughts via sign language. Later, under unrevealed circumstances, they gained the ability to speak. They were trained in military forms of armed and unarmed combat, and had access to a number of forms of conventional weaponry.

   Initially, the Beasts were dependent on frequent dosing with the ray to maintain their intellect; their current status is unrevealed.

   Originally, there were seven known Beasts.

(Tales to Astonish I#60/1 (fb)) - Right around the start of the modern era, those darned commies of East Berlin (see comments) developed a ray which enabled them to increase the intelligence of animals -- the Reds discovered it accidentally, and thus were unable to duplicate the device.

   They first started using the ray on gorillas, making the primates smart enough to read and to obey commands -- they were secretly trying to create an army of these beasts, combining the strength of a gorilla and the intelligence of a human! However, since there was only one such ray in existence, they kept it under heavy guard while they attempted to reproduce the device.

(Tales to Astonish I#60/1 - BTS) - Lee Kearns, a former FBI agent and friend of Henry Pym, crossed the Berlin Wall as a private citizen, but he was captured by the communist East German government and sentenced to death for spying -- Kearns was imprisoned in the same facility where the communists kept the ray projector.

(Tales to Astonish I#60/1) - Henry Pym, now Giant-Man, flew to East Berlin to rescue Kearns; he sneaked into the base at ant-size, and learned of the Beasts of Berlin and ray projector from Kearns. After Giant-Man freed Kearns, they were attacked by one of the Beasts, but Giant-Man easily defeated the gorilla at his increased height.

   Determined to destroy the ray projector before the communists could duplicate it, Giant-Man and Kearns got to the lab just before more gorillas were about to be exposed to the ray. Six of the Beasts surrounded Giant-Man and attacked, but the powerful creatures only crashed into each other, because the hero had reduced himself to ant-size. After summoning a flying ant, the tiny hero trained the ray on the communists controlling the Beasts -- as he had deduced, the ray somehow affected humans in reverse, making them think and act like regular gorillas.

   Giant-Man then bound the six Beasts in his unbreakable "climbing wire," and he noticed that the gorillas were gradually losing their intelligence without further exposure to the ray. After destroying the only working ray, Giant-Man made his escape with Kearns. The effects of the ray soon wore off, leaving both humans and gorillas with their normal intellects, and the threat of the Beasts of Berlin was over forever...or so the East Germans would have you believe!!!!

(West Coast Avengers II#33 (fb) - BTS) - Apparently, the ray was eventually re-developed, and the Beasts of Berlin joined forces with the communist government of Hungary, along with a bunch of other old communist foes of Pym, to become the People's Defense Force of Hungary.

(West Coast Avengers II#33-34, 36) - Under the direction of Quicksilver (at the time, on one of his "evil kicks" -- I think it was later ret-conned away to the manipulation of Maximus), Pym and his West Coast Avengers allies were tricked into going to Hungary under false pretenses. Once they arrived, the People's Defense Force attacked them and forced them to surrender. The Avengers eventually broke free and defeated the PDF.

(Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.#11 - BTS) - The Beyond Corporation somehow created duplicates of the Beasts of Berlin and unleashed them on Nextwave when they invaded their State 51 base, but Nextwave made short work of them.

Comments: Created by Stan Lee and Dick Ayers.

Obviously, the references to the Berlin Wall, East Berlin, and the whole Red Scare touch to the story is topical.

So, if the animal brain stimulation ray was re-developed, then why were there only six Beasts, the same number as from before? I think it's more likely that the original Beasts eventually regained their intellect. Otherwise, there may be millions of them now, just waiting for revenge.

Maybe, while still attached to the Hungarian People's Defense Force, they had their quasi-human intelligence restored by the Scarlet Beetles? After all, with their psychic power over other forms of insect life, it would be quite easy to telepathically stimulate the minds of those apes via the fleas on their bodies! (Yeah; yeah! I know it's a stretch. But, let's face it: MARVEL HAS UNDENIABLY DONE A LOT CRAZIER RET-CONNING!)

The Beasts of Berlin are going to make a comeback, one of these decades. There were 24 years between their first and second appearances, so I'm banking on 2112, baby! The Year of the Ape! (I know apes and gorillas are different, but it just lacked that zing!).
Anyway, tough as they may be, the Ape Alliance will be pitifully crushed by the omnipotent Cockroach Conspiracy.

If I remember correctly, the WCA issues ended with Pym finding his long lost wife, Maria Trovaya, who had been mutated by the commies into having a giant brain. "Maria" became SODAM (Specialized Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers), which wisely and quickly was changed to MODAM (Mental Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers), which was later revealed to have never been Maria at all. Is that right?

You can't get any more entertaining than intelligent, communist gorillas! In fact, you can't beat the Ant-Man/Giant-Man series in Tales to Astonish. Classic Comics. You can read all of them in black-and-white for $15.00 in Essential Ant-Man.

The group of old Tales to Astonish foes in West Coast Avengers was named the People's Defense Force in Hungary's entry in the Marvel Atlas.

The Beyond Corporation used their own version of the Beasts of Berlin to protect State 51 against the Nextwave Squad in Nextwave#11.
--Markus Rayond

The Beasts of Berlin have an entry in Marvel Legacy: The 1960s Handbook.

Profile by Snood. Expansion by Ron Fredricks.


As far as I know, none of them crazy apes have done anything outside their appearances listed above. So no other intelligent ape bent on world conquest has any connection to the Beasts of Berlin.
These include:

intelligence ray

Accidentally discovered by the communist forces of East Berlin (see comments), it emitted a beam which gave animals human-level intelligence; conversely, it had the opposite effect on humans and reduced them to animal-like simpletons. The effects of the ray were only temporary, and regular exposures to it were required, otherwise the effects wore off after an unspecified time-period.

In an attempt to create an army of intelligent beasts, the communists used it on a group of gorillas.

The only working model of the ray projector was eventually destroyed by Giant-Man before the communists could duplicate it.

(Comment: The official name of this device was never mentioned, but on p9 pan2, Lee Kearns called it an "intelligence ray". The ray was only used on gorillas, so it was unrevealed if it worked on any other animals.)

--Tales to Astonish I#60/1

East Berlin communists

Unidentified military leaders and scientists of communist East Berlin (see comments), they had accidentally discovered a ray projector which could temporarily endow animals with human-level intelligence. In an effort to create an army of intelligent beasts, the communists exposed a group of gorillas to the ray and created the Beasts of Berlin.

But just as they were about to expose more gorillas to the ray, Giant-Man aimed it at them -- the ray had the opposite effect on humans, and they were temporarily reduced to animal-like simpletons; then Giant-Man destroyed the ray.

The communists eventually returned to normal after the effects of the ray wore off; however, their subsequent fates are unrevealed.

--Tales to Astonish I#60/1

images: (without ads)
West Coast Avengers II#33, cover (main image - Beasts of Berlin battling Wonder Man)
Tales to Astonish I#60/1, p7, pan3 (in flashback, gorilla reads book after exposure to ray; Lee Kearns' narration)
Tales to Astonish I#60/1, p8, pan1 (Beast of Berlin; Lee Kearns, Giant-Man (background))
Tales to Astonish I#60/1, p8 pan3 (Beast of Berlin; Lee Kearns, Giant-Man (foreground))
Tales to Astonish I#60/1, p7, pan2 (in flashback, gorilla gets exposed to ray projector, as Lee Kearns narrates)
Tales to Astonish I#60/1, p10, pan2 (communists watch as one of the Beasts is about to use ray projector on other gorillas)
Tales to Astonish I#60/1, p12, pan1 (East Berlin communists get hit by ray)
Tales to Astonish I#60/1, p12, pan2 (East Berlin communists after being exposed to ray)

Tales to Astonish I#60/1 (October, 1964) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Dick Ayers (pencils), Paul Reinman (inks), Artie Simek (letters)
West Coast Avengers II#33-34 (June-July, 1988) - Steve Englehart (writer), Al Milgrom (pencils), Mike Machlan (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
West Coast Avengers II#36 (September, 1988) - Steve Englehart (writer), Al Milgrom (pencils), Mike Machlan (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.#11 (February, 2007) - Warren Ellis (writer), Stuart Immonen (pencils), Wade von Grawbadger (inks), Nick Lowe (editor)

First Posted: 03/08/2002
Last updated: 12/12/2022

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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