In the wake of Batman’s success as a TV megastar, comics enjoyed a resurgence of popular interest with – obviously – DC’s Caped Crusader enjoying the bulk of the renewed celebrity. Upstart comic companies, already emboldened by fledgling Marvel’s superhero successes, took this collusion of circumstances as an opportunity to flood the field with new superhero titles, many of them themed superheroes in the Bat-mold, such as Harvey’s BEE-MAN.
Harvey Comics – more famous now for Richie Rich and Casper – had launched in the Golden Age with a passel of its own characters, none of whom were revamped and reintroduced with their Harvey Thrillers line – which is a shame. The Stuntman, The Vagabond Prince, The Zebra, Shock Gibson and particularly Hollywood’s Glamorous Detective Star The Black Cat – a debutante vigilante complete with animal-themed identity and teen sidekick – all seemed ripe for revitalizing, but instead the energy was put into new creations, not a few of which were the product of the inventive mind of Otto Binder.
Bee-Man (or B-Man, sometimes) scores cover appearances on both issues of Double-Dare Adventures, proclaiming on the first issue “We DOUBLE-DARE you to resist the attacking bees!” which sounds like something you’d say after a solid two ounces of dry shrooms. I’ll take “truth” next time.
Born Barry E.Eames, he attempts to sabotage a satellite launch and instead ends up transported to a Bee-planet, ruled by Queen Bea and her army of mutant bees, who sting him and give him Bee powers, and he dresses in bee armor, and lives in a huge bee-hive and has to eat honey and honey concentrate to keep from going mad, and he steals gold because it looks like honey (?), and he has bee-powers, and when he turns on his evil masters he is awarded with a rank in the F-Bee-I. Bees! So much bees! Honk if you love bees! Bees – ask me how!
Bee-Man starts his career as a villain and is only redeemed in a second issue of Double-Dare. Before he can get that far, though, he hosts a rambling and near-incoherent text piece which apparently was meant to serve as some sort of manifesto (or should I say BEE-ifesto? Haha, haha, ha, no I shouldn’t) or recruitment pamphlet for Al Qa-Bee-Da, and predates the best internet rambling by several decades. A sample:
"My worthy deeds will force all Earthlings to surrender to my SUPERIOR WORLD. Many of your great scientists have predicted that ONE DAY INSECTS WILL RULE THE EARTH. You laughed and called them crazy, but I shall prove them RIGHT. The day is not far away when INSECTS WILL INDEED RULE THE HUMANS OF THE EARTH. You will become our slaves and solve many of our problems - one of which is labor. The entire human race, what is left of it, that is, will become SLAVES TO MY RACE. You will fulfill the duties of our 'worker bees.' You will become MY SLAVES. Any questions?"
I think that covers all the salient points, actually.