History is a story. It is told by victors and losers alike. Mighty deeds and epic failures, the march of innovation and technology, the rise and fall of civilizations, and even the small moments of individual achievement and perseverance. History is a story that is written and recorded. From oral history to florid prose. History is a story that is represented by a myriad of visual arts: paintings, cave drawings, film, etc. History is a story passed down and changed, as each generation contextualizes and interprets based on the experiences of those who would decide the representation. Art, all art, is integrally entwined in the telling of history’s story. We learn who we are and who we have been and who we will be from the representation of history. It is the story of all of us.

In 1985, with the publication of Beauty and the Beast, history officially died. It was not a pleasant death.

Written by Ann Nocenti with art by Don Perlin, Beauty and the Beast was a 4 issue limited series published by Marvel Comics.

Ostensibly spinning out of the aforementioned Dazzler: The Movie graphic novel and falling squarely in the midst of the anti-mutie craze that was sweeping through, and sucking the life out of, Marvel’s 80’s output, the powers-that-be decided that the world needed a love story between a Disco singing mutant and a beloved blue-furred mutant best known for acrobatics and hilarious repartee. Sounds golden, right?

This is a terrible comic book.

The plot is simple enough. Beast and Dazzler meet-cute and fall in love. Dazzler is manipulated and drugged by bad guys, forcing her into an underground gladiator show featuring mutants. Beast tries to save the day. He kinda succeeds, with the help of other D-list mutants. Doctor Doom makes an appearance, because of course. Beast and Dazzler break up.

In the course of the story, we also get creeper tendencies, emotional and physical abuse, male-gaze art, ham-fisted writing, cultural appropriation, blackface, and mind-bogglingly bad plotting. We do, however, get great covers by Bill Sienkiewicz. So, there’s that.

Beauty and the Beast isn’t just weird bad, it’s bad on so many other levels. The noble march of art as a shining light of historical truth telling, and as a lighthouse for understanding our world, screeches to a horrible end. It is a blue-furred beast in the rain, soggy and deflated.

This article originally appeared as the introduction to episode 83: Beauty and the Beast.

The Collected Edition is a comic book podcast where the hosts discuss the famous and infamous runs and story arcs throughout the history of comics. Please subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Sticher, IHeartRadio, and Spotify.