published by DC Comics
. B'Wana Beast
first appeared in Showcase #66
Michael Maxwell was the son of successful business man
Gilbert Maxwell. When the younger Maxwell graduated from
college, his father expected him to take over the family
business, but he surprised his father by declining the
position. Michael informed his father that he intended
to take a job as a game warden in the African nation of
Zambesi, working to protect the wildlife in that nation's
Maxwell and his friend, a native from Zambesi, flew to
the African nation on a small plane. The duo encountered
a violent storm and their plane was damaged, crashing
into the side of an isolated mountain. The two were injured
and sought refuge in a cave on the mountain. Maxwell
drank from a spring within the cave, which unbeknownst to
the pair had been endowed with special properties by the
minerals in the cave walls. Maxwell found himself becoming
more muscular and taller as a result of the water.
As the two sought to recover, the inhabitant of the cave,
a large, red, mutant ape returned and attacked them. With
his new size and strength, Maxwell overcame the beast. The
ape recognized Maxwell's superiority and gave him a
helmet that was hidden deep in the cave. With the
helmet, Maxwell found that he could communicate with the
ape whose name was Djuba, and that he could command
and control the animals around him. The helmet also
allowed Maxwell to combine two animals into a single
animal with the strengths of both of the individual animals.
Deciding to use his powers for good, Maxwell dubbed
himself B'wana Beast and fought against those who
would exploit his new home. Maxwell traveled the land
of Zambesi with Djuba, who always carried a supply of
the special water around her neck, rather like a bizarre
version of a Saint Bernard.
In the early 1990's, Maxwell passed the torch to another
hero. A South African national who had undergone oppression
under apartheid was given the helmet and the mystic water.
Renaming himelf from B'Wana Beast to just Freedom Beast,
the new hero began to use his powers not only to protect
the animals, but the people as well.