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Baby Wildebeest

Alias: none

Titans Member
Joined: 
New Titans #85 [1992]
Related Links: Wildebeest SocietyPanthaRed Star

Baby Wildebeest Quick Bio: The Wildebeest Society’s strange experiments led to the creation of an actual Baby Wildebeest. In moments of extreme stress, Baby would transform into a fierce adult Wildebeest creature! Baby quickly bonded with Pantha, who he regarded as his ‘momma.’ Pantha and Wildebeest were later tragically killed during the Infinite Crisis.

Teen Titans File Photo:

New Titans Group Photo:

Archived File Photos (in chronological order):

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History


Baby and the ‘Beests

The Wildebeest Society was formed as a criminal organization intent on accumulating vast fortunes through whatever illegal method was deemed necessary. To that end, the original Wildebeest, who became the Society’s leader, created the clever strategy of permitting only one member to be seen in public at any one time. This created the belief that there was only one Wildebeest, a menace whose method of operation was so complicated it could not be discerned by police or super-powered adventurer alike, as the approach to each robbery or action bore no resemblance to that of any other Wildebeest attack.

The Society began as a small organization, but was soon taken over by a member of the super-hero group known as the New Titans. Jericho, a mute body-possessor, was possessed himself by an evil force who wished to take over and inhabit the bodies of Jericho’s super-powered partners. The altered Wildebeest Society began a series of genetic, chemical-organic experiments designed to create the perfect recipient host body for the evil force to possess.

The Society began with the genetic alteration of humans and animals. All their experiments failed but one. That one, labeled X-24, a human/pantha, escaped only to later join the New Titans as Pantha in their battle against the Wildebeests.

ABOVE: They grow up so fast! Baby has a growth spurt in NEW TITANS #91 [1992].
BELOW:  Baby protects his new family in NEW TITANS #93 [1993].

‘Beest of Burden

The Society also experimented with the creation of living Wildebeest host bodies. Only one body – a true, living Wildebeest baby – was genetically created before the New Titans destroyed the Wildebeest’s plans and the Society.

Although infant in intelligence and age, the Wildebeest body was genetically programmed to grow in size and power in preparation for becoming a host body. Thus, with the evil energy force destroyed, the Wildebeest baby quickly grew into a twelve-foot powerhouse with the brain of a peanut.  Seeing a kindred spirit in the hapless creature, Pantha begrudgingly looked after the baby ‘beest. As a result, Baby Wildebeest quickly bonded with the female were-cat, regarding Pantha as his “Momma.”

ABOVE: Pantha becomes Baby Wildebeest’s reluctant mother in NEW TITANS #88 [1992].
BELOW: A Pantha and Baby Wildebeest bonding moment from NEW TITANS #98 [1993].

Baby Wildebeest grew to behave as a normal toddler, albeit one with the body of a miniature Wildebeest. But when angered, Baby instantly transformed into an adult Wildebeest powerhouse – fiercely protective of his friends and loved ones. And despite Pantha’s disparaging remarks concerning the beastly babe, she was obviously developing deep affection for the guileless creature.

Shortly thereafter, mounting pressures forced the New Titans to be placed under the government’s watchful eye.  Rejecting this notion, Red Star elected to leave the team and travel the world instead. Pantha, who was smitten by the handsome Russian hero, aggressively invited herself along with Baby Wildebeest in tow. Together, the trio grew into an affectionate surrogate family, making a home in Russia’s Science City and aiding the Titans when called.

When Superboy from Earth Prime ran amok during the Infinite Crisis, Superboy called on his Titans allies to subdue his Kryptonian doppelganger. The misguided Superboy-Prime inadvertently decapitated Pantha and slaughtered Baby Wildebeest before being pulled into the Speed Force by the combined might of the super-speedsters. An enraged and devastated Red Star was left to mourn his fallen friends.

ABOVE: Red Star, Pantha and Baby Wildebeest leave the Titans and form a
unique family unit in NEW TITANS #114 [1994].
BELOW: Baby Wildebeest is killed by Superboy-Prime in INFINITE CRISIS #4 [2005].

Powers & Abilities


The Wildebeest baby has incredible strength. When provoked, it (being genetically created, “Wildy” is neither male nor female) can juggle sixteen- wheel trucks with little effort.

Wildebeest’s intelligence, however, seems to be in direct contrast to its strength. Fortunately, Wildebeest is a good-natured baby who listens to the Titans; although it is easily manipulated by others, it will generally follow their commands. It has especially taken to the Wildebeest-hating Pantha (who was the ‘Beest’s original X-24 experiment), and insists on calling her “Momma.”


Essential Reading


New Titans #85 [1992]: Phantasm gives the Titans a capsule from the Wildebeest Society, revealing the Baby Wildebeest inside. First appearance of Baby Wildebeest.
New Titans #86-87 [1992]: Baby Wildebeest bonds with Pantha, much to her chagrin.
New Titans #88-89 [1992]: Baby Wildebeest exhibits the ability to grow in size and strength. Despite her objections, Pantha relents to being Baby’s ‘momma.’
New Titans #114 [1994]: Pantha, Red Star, and Baby Wildebeest decline membership and leave the Titans.
Titans #20 [2000]: The Titans go to Science City in Russia to help Cyborg; Red Star, Pantha and Baby Wildebeest appear. Using a DNA sample and new cloning technology, Vic Stone’s Omegadrome consciousness is downloaded into a new human form.
Teen Titans #21-23 [2005]: “Lights Out,” an IDENTITY CRISIS follow-up story! Doctor Light has forced the Titans’ hand and staged a publicized battle with the young heroes to take back his reputation. Titans new and old team up to take down Dr. Light.
Infinite Crisis #4 [2005] & Teen Titans #32 [2005]: Superboy-Prime attacks Superboy. Superboy calls on his Titans allies to subdue his Kryptonian doppelganger. The misguided Superboy-Prime inadvertently decapitates Pantha and slaughters Baby Wildebeest and Bushido; He then freezes Red Star into crystal ice and rips off Risk’s right arm before being pulled into the Speed Force by the combined might of the super-speedsters. Death of Pantha, Baby Wildebeest and Bushido.

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A 2009 commission of Pantha & Baby Wildebeest, by Paul Azaceta.

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 Baby Wildebeest and Titans Hunt


Titans Hunt

Longtime Titans readers can agree on one thing: “Titans Hunt” was one of the most controversial storylines in the team’s collective history. But many fans still debate the merits of the story itself. Its detractors decry it as a series of cheap stunts, while its supporters applaud the bold changes that reignited the title.

It began with New Titans #71 [1990], in which the Titans were hunted and captured by the Wildebeest Society on the eve of the team’s anniversary celebration. In that same issue’s letter column, editor Jonathan Peterson hinted at the changes in store: “You see, what we all agreed on was the fact that the Titans as a group had become too settled in. Things were far too quiet. So we gleefully decided that it was time to, well how can I say it, “shake things up.” And I mean A LOT. Over the course of the next few months things are not going to be what you expect. I can guarantee it. Over the course of the next few months the Titans Universe will change in ways you never thought we’d dare to change it. You’ll see an entire new evolution in the characters themselves and in the debut of a new team. That’s right–I said a new team. It’s been ten years since the Titans debuted and to celebrate that fact we thought it was time to introduce some all-new team members. Where does that leave us? Well, in the months ahead some Titans will stay…some will go…some will die…some will get marr–oopsl Don’t want to spoil all the surprises.”

And the changes were many. Deathstroke and Steve Dayton galvanized a group of allies to rescue them, revealing Jericho as the mysterious Wildebeest leader. Possessed by evil Azarathian energies, Jericho was slain by his own father in the storyline’s epic finale in New Titans #84.  Along the way, some Titans died (Golden Eagle, Danny Chase and Jericho), new Titans joined (Red Star, Pantha, Phantasm, Baby Wildebeest and the time-tossed Team Titans), several Titans were transformed (leather-clad Raven and robotic Cyborg) and an iconic headquarters was destroyed (Titans Tower).

“One of the problems the Titans have had for many years was playing to the status quo,” recalled writer Marv Wolfman, “We weren’t doing anything. I was bored with it. And so were the readers – we just weren’t pushing.” New editor Jonathan Peterson was instrumental in pushing for changes. When Peterson took over the book, Wolfman says artist Tom Grummett, inker Al Vey and outgoing editor Mike Carlin got together for three days to come up with the current storyline that has them all excited again.

The original Titans Hunt ran from New Titans #71-84, but its reverberations continued up until New Titans #100.

All those New Titans! From DC WHO’S WHO in 1993.

An excerpt from “Jonathan Peterson: New Directions For The New Titans”
[originally published in The Titans Companion, 2005]

Change was in the air for the New Titans in 1990. After having become assistant editor on the book the year before, Jonathan Peterson rose to the rank of editor at the start of the decade and incorporated changes into the series that would have Titans fans talking for years. Using the tenth anniversary of the New Teen Titans as a springboard, the book underwent a new line-up, introduced new characters, and said farewell to old ones. Included in the changes were two spin-off series, Deathstroke and Team Titans, designed to broaden the Titans fan base. No longer active in the industry today, the following interview with Peterson was conducted by Bill Walko in two parts: originally on January 15, 2001, and expanded upon on April 15, 2005.

[…]

TTC: Let’s talk about some of the characters that you introduced to the book. Tell us how you came up with Pantha. It seemed Pantha was originally conceived as the anti-member, a Titan who was morally ambiguous.

JP: Actually, Pantha was Marv’s creation. He created her to stir the pot. Marv is actually the sweetest guy you want to meet, but we all decided the book needed more edge, and Pantha was the first character Marv pitched. She was bitter, sarcastic and hard-edged. I think in a way Pantha became Marv’s mouthpiece of sarcasm. She was fun in that respect, and Tom Grummett then designed her.

Titans became just very collaborative. I remember in an issue of Titans, Mirage had posed as Starfire to get close to Dick, and they – ahem – got together without Dick knowing it was actually Mirage. There was this page that Kevin drew – Kevin with those great [facial] expressions he draws – where we reveal that. Mirage has this very happy look on her face, and Kevin just penciled in Pantha saying, “Dick, you slut!”We all thought that was a funny line, and that was all Kevin.

TTC: What about Pantha’s mysterious origin? Was she planned to be revealed as someone the Titans knew before? Was that worked out?

JP: The idea was supposed to be that she was actually created by the original H.I.V.E. group, and I remember that the character tied back with Deathstroke. He was somehow involved. The H.I.V.E. was responsible for her creation, and at one time she was a real woman. I do remember we had it on the drawing board as something Louise Simonson would write.

There would be a story where she actually turned back into a normal woman. She pulled a Hulk/Bruce Banner, and that would be the shocking reveal of seeing who she really was. I think we toyed with the idea that she was a bookworm librarian and had all this repressed anger, and that all came out as Pantha, and at the end of the story, it would be a “Ben Grimm” type story where she tragically becomes Pantha again. The emotional thing for her would be “Good, I’d rather be Pantha.”

TTC: So was human Pantha someone the Titans knew, or just Deathstroke?

JP: Just Deathstroke, as far as I recall. I do remember planning that with Weezie, and I did challenge her to be creative about it, that maybe Pantha could be some C-level character from Titans history, if that worked. It would give us the excuse to [go],”Ah-ha!” But obviously, that story never came about.

Titans new and old – from DC WHO’S WHO in 1993.

TTC: Then there was Phantasm.

JP: With Phantasm, I remember we experimented with a few different things. In terms of breaking up the group, we wanted to try new things, so Pantha was the sarcastic and bitter one, the anti-Titan. Phantasm gave us this ethereal and ghostly feel. Raven started as that, but then she changed.

TTC: She started as this dark daughter of a demon, but she now wore white and was dealing with emotions.

JP: Yep. I wanted a Titan to represent the Dr. Strange or Dr. Fate type of genre. We knew we wanted someone like that. I wanted a character to represent something mystical.

TTC: Phantasm started as Danny Chase…

JP: Yeah. The idea there was to kill two birds with one stone. I think the original idea behind Danny Chase was this sort of Jonny Quest character, but we decided he either has to die or become cool.

TTC: It also seemed Phantasm was Marv’s sneaky way of getting people to think Danny Chase was cool, without them realizing it was Danny behind the sheet.

JP: That was part of the idea. He had to be tolerable or just get killed off. We sort of did both, and that was also part of the master plan. We knew Raven was going to return as a villain, that she would go dark. We planned on doing that with her for about a year, or a year and a half. Rather than the pseudo-redemption thing yet again, we wanted to make her a core villain. We knew when we killed her off in “Titans Hunt” that she would return at Nightwing and Starfire’s wedding.

A retailer’s promotional mobile featuring the New Titans.

TTC: Let’s talk about the origin of Baby Wildebeest. How did all that fit in with your grand plan?

JP: Baby Wildebeest and the whole Wildebeest Society was sort of a product of reverse-engineering. We came up with that after we decided Jericho would be the leader. Everyone tossed out ideas at that point, so I’m not sure who actually came up with that idea. We just wanted to bring it back to the Wildebeests.

Tom Grummett even loved drawing those guys. I remember the cover to one of the issues that we actually did, which I drew at the “Titans Summit,” [had] the Baby Wildebeest holding up all the machinery. I actually wanted to be a penciller, since I have a very strong art background. In fact, I almost went to college on an art scholarship, but elected to go to film school instead, which is another tangent, but because I do draw, I actually made tons and tons of thumbnails as an editor. Then we did the cover where Baby Wildebeest was running out in traffic. I remember people saying “I can’t believe you did that,” [laughs] but we did make the cover copy humorous.

We wanted Wildebeest to be the super-strength guy in the group, but we would see him grow up. He’d go from a baby to hulking out, and then Marv chimed in and said, “But he wouldn’t necessarily mentally mature.” So we were like “Exactly! He really will be the big dumb brute,” and then Marv came up with the idea that Baby Wildebeest would bond with Pantha because she was the sarcastic one.

TTC: You also brought in Red Star, who was a character that wasn’t used very much. Why did you choose to bring him in?

JP: I wanted a Russian. That was part of my vision to make them more international. I wanted to branch outside of New York. I didn’t wanted them all so whitebread. Louise Simonson latched onto him and developed him some more. We talked about doing a Red Star mini-series. It was an idea to do a sort of Titans International, that they could affect the world outside of Titans Tower, and part of that became giving him a power upgrade. I told Weezie to develop him and do what she wanted.

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A Baby Wildebeest Pin-Up, from NEW TITANS #100 [1993].

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 Infinite Crisis #4: Death and Titans


Geoff Johns: Writer’s Workshop
Infinite Crisis #4: Death and Titans

The first draft of this scene […] went through many debates and changes. It originally included Superboy-Prime showing up and, as he does, tearing through the heroes. But in the first version, not only did he kill a different character (and there were many on the list which I’ll get to in a second – because I know that’s what people want to know) but he didn’t react the right way when he murdered someone.

It was so incredibly wrong to me.

But I didn’t have it figured out yet. So, I told Eddie [Berganza, editor on Infinite Crisis] there was something wrong with these two pages. And I told Phil [Jimenez, artist for the series]. And I thought about it.

Was it a matter of who died? That was a huge question. In the first draft, the Teen Titans’ Argent was the one that faced Prime’s outburst. But it was his heat vision that did it. Eddie loved Argent and had plans for her, so she was taken off of the table. There was discussion, and a draft, where Terra was the one who was killed. But I felt like her story hadn’t been yet told – it would leave too many unanswered questions. Red Star was also proposed, due to power levels but we had plans for him. And then I realized, as strange as it sounds, we needed to use someone obscure. I hated to say it, but this moment was not about who died, but about Superboy-Prime killing.

Superboy-Prime had to be horrified at what he had done, just like the reader. It needed to be an action much more shocking than heat vision. He had to be swinging in a fury, unaware of his power.

And that’s when it finally clicked for me. Superboy-Prime had to cry. He had to be scared. And his fear would fuel him. He would continue to lash out, blaming the others for his actions. Yesterday’s hero blaming the heroes of today for his corruption.

Going through the characters further, Pantha was chosen because she hadn’t been active in a long time and she would affect Red Star, who was very close with her, when we told his story. And it worked, for the most part. People said, “Did you see what Superboy-Prime did?” instead of “Pantha died!”

The rest of Superboy-Prime’s rampage justified the Flashes racing in to dispose of this super-powered “maniac.” You can see the fear and pain and guilt on Superboy-Prime’s face as he’s pulled away, yelling that one day he would be Superman. […] Risk was going to die but, again, I wanted someone to survive this battle, however maimed, and live to tell about it – so he lost an arm instead of his life.

Scene from A Rampage, from INFINITE CRISIS #4 [2005].

Geoff Johns on Infinite Crisis #4
[from The Titans Companion 2, 2008]

GJ: The only [death] that was hard was [Superboy]. Pantha and Wildebeest, and Bushido, who I co-created, so that wasn’t as hard… You had three Titans die, and then Superboy, and the hardest one was Superboy. Pantha and Wildebeest hadn’t been used in so long, and even though the characters were cool, it had to be somebody.

I looked at, “What could I get a story out of so someone just doesn’t die?” ‘Cause at one point, we thought the current Terra [would die], and then it was like, “Well, who is she? What happens with her? No, let’s not do that – there’s still questions surrounding where she’s from,”and then I thought, “Well, I love Red Star,”like I said before, “and what if Red Star has to deal with losing his family?” and that would be Wildebeest and Pantha, so boom, those two were chosen as unfortunate victims of Superboy-Prime. Then Bushido was in there because I felt that if I was killing any more minor Titans, I should probably kill my own.

TTC: That was the same rationale for why Kole died in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

GJ: Yeah, I think so. I remember reading that story, so that was kind of the same thing. It’s like, “Guys, I’m sorry… here’s my sacrifical lamb, as well.” And then, the whole Superboy thing, that one’s a lot more difficult.

They wanted a big death in Infinite Crisis, and with Superboy-Prime really becoming the main villain, and being the through line, it’s just, Superboy ended up becoming the catalyst for everything. [He was] the perfect object of a hero who had given up, who had been corrupted, as Superboy-Prime had said, on Earth, and who rises above that corruption and challenges him, and defies what he says about him, and becomes a true hero, and dies saving the universe doing it.


Sources for this entry: DC Who’s Who Binder Series supplemented by titanstower.com


End of titanstower.com transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author