KGBeast (or in Rebirth continuity, simply The Beast) is a Russian super-villain, an assassin, and also an enemy of Batman.
Anatoli Knyazev was an extraordinary assassin who was in the employ of the KGB, the Soviet Union's secret police and intelligence agency. Anatoli Knyazev, code-named "The Beast" and known to the C.I.A. as the "KGBeast" was trained as an assassin by "The Hammer," a top secret cell of the KGB. In addition to being a master of several martial arts, his strength was cybernetically enhanced, and was also said to have mastered the use of every deadly weapon known to man. At the time of his first appearance, he was rumored to have killed at least 200 people, including possibly Anwar El Sadat.
The Beast made his first appearance in the storyline, "Ten Nights of The Beast" (Batman #417 - 420, later reprinted as a trade paperback of the same name.) The Hammer's general, angry that the Soviet government was working to better relations with the United States, sends Knyazev on an unauthorized mission to kill 10 high-ranking U.S. officials, ten key people who were involved with the United States' Strategic Defense Initiative, nicknamed the "Star Wars" program, in the hope of putting an end to it.
These include scientists, civilian administrators, military figures, and politicians, the last of whom being then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan, scheduled to visit Gotham City. The Soviets warned the American government about Knyazev's plan.
Despite Batman's best efforts, Knyazev proved highly successful, killing seven of his nine designated targets. In particular, he showcases his ruthlessness by poisoning an entire banquet, killing over 100 people, just to ensure his target would die. When Batman finally meets the Beast in hand to hand combat, the Beast quickly gains the upper hand, fleeing only because he thought Batman had back-up.
At one point, the Batman ensnared the KGBeast's left hand in a noose. To free himself, the KGBeast severed his trapped hand with an ax. Having lost his left hand in battle with the Batman, the KGBeast quickly has the limb replaced with a cybernetic gun, made by one of Gotham's top weapons dealers, that fired automatically and that fit on the stump of his left arm. He also used a bayonet attached to the gun as a weapon.
Later the Batman succeeded in saving the President of the United States, who was visiting Gotham, from being assassinated by Knyazev. The Batman then pursued Knyazev into the sewers. Finally, the KGBeast found himself trapped within a small room in the lowest section of Gotham City's sewer system.
Before the final confrontation between Batman and the Beast, C.I.A. Agent Ralph Bundy reminds Batman that, if the Beast were to be captured alive, he would have to be handed over to the Soviets, and likely escape justice. Knowing this, Batman, after thwarting the Beast's assassination attempt on Reagan, destroys the Beast's gun-arm, lures him into the sewers, and then corners him in an underground room. The Beast invites Batman to fight him to the death, but instead Batman locks the room, effectively burying the assassin alive.
Batman later informed the police that the KGBeast was trapped (presumably waiting long enough for Knyazev to have suffocated). In the later story, Batman: Year Three, however, Batman notes that he actually had contacted the police to pick up the subdued villain. Though the exact details of his escape are unknown, the KGBeast did escape (or escaped police custody).
The KGBeast escapes and goes into hiding, from which he sees the Soviet Union dissolve. His protegé, the NKVDemon, surfaces in Russia, but is killed by Batman's ally, Soviet police detective Nikita Krakov. The KGBeast becomes a traditional supervillain, engaging in a counterfeiting scheme and having additional cybernetic implants inserted into his body. He fights Robin and the Huntress, but is ultimately defeated by King Snake. He also acquires a nuclear bomb the size and shape of a baseball, which he uses to threaten Gotham City. He is defeated by Robin and ultimately locked up in Blackgate Penitentiary.
Later KGBeast fought Batman on two more occasions when Batman helped Arsenal find a kidnapped Cheshire and during an escape from Blackgate Penitentiary. Batman defeated the Beast both times.
No Man's Land
In the Batman: No Man's Land storyline, the KGBeast appears as a henchman of Lock-Up, during the latter's tenure as the unofficial warden of Blackgate. He later ran into Robin and the Huntress, who defeated him but did not capture him.
The KGBeast later attempted to deploy a small sized nuclear device in Gotham City when things got out of hand. Along with two Russian teammates, they caused much damage to the City. Eventually he came face to face with the GCPD and Robin. He severely injured Harvey Bullock, and battled it out with Robin. In the fight, Robin pulled off the KGBeast's eye-piece, which he found out was attached to his skull. This incapacitated the KGBeast just long enough for Batman to show up.
From Supervillain to simple Henchman
Early on Batman felt that in meeting the Beast he, for once, found someone better than him. Tim Drake was reluctant to fight the Beast because he felt way out of his depth against a foe this powerful. The respect that the Beast earned in earlier stories vanished. Later, KGBeast lamented that he had become nothing more than a hitman for hire. He was even defeated by Harvey Dent in hand to hand combat.
Eventually, the KGBeast was among the villains murdered by the Tally Man, under orders from the Great White Shark. However, in the Nightwing series, his body was later stolen by a mysterious group attempting to reanimate the corpses of dead super-beings, creating the possibility that the Beast may one day return.
KGBeast was one of the many villains raised from the dead in Gotham City to join the new Black Lantern Corps as zombies during Blackest Night. Along with Abbatoir, Deacon Blackfire, Blockbuster, King Snake, Magpie, the Trigger Twins, and the Ventriloquist, he received a Black Lantern Ring. He terrorized the city, and tore out the hearts of innocents to feed on their emotions and life force when they were feeling the most fear.
In the New 52, Anatoli's alias became simply "The Beast" due to the real-world KGB having been defunct (in both the real world and the DC universe) for decades by the time of his first appearance in this continuity.
This version of the Anatoli was raised and trained by "The Hammer", a sub-faction of the KGB which existed in secret following the dissolving of the USSR. Namely Anatoli was trained by Kanto, a New God from the planet of Apokalips and a student of the infamous Granny Goodness.
The Beast was known for his efficiency and secrecy, having murdered everyone in his past to keep them quiet with the exception of Kanto himself and his father; he did however massacre his mother and siblings. He was known for being a master-planner above all else in his career and was incredibly good at disappearing almost immediately in the wake of one of his jobs.
All Star Batman
When Two-Face was taken by Batman to receive cosmetic surgery in the wake of him trying to release acid rain on Gotham, the Beast was hired to get him back. Before his capture, Two-Face had bugged several wi-fi routers to steal information from Gotham's citizens and planned on releasing it unless Batman was stopped and he was freed.
Gotham's main force of organized crime, The Black and Whites hired the Beast to hunt down Batman and Dent alongside Amygdala, King Shark, Killer Croc, Firefly, Killer Moth, the Royal Flush Gang and Black Spider. Batman managed to defeat him and he disappeared again.
Breaking the Bat
The Beast would be hired by Bane and Thomas Wayne's Batman to assassinate Dick Grayson as part of their grand-plan of destroying his psyche to make him give up being Batman. After this, Beast fled Gotham as he believed his contract to be complete. He travelled to Russia to seek refuge, all the while Batman was hunting him down.
The KGBeast confronted his father in their families cabin where he confessed to having kept his father alive out of love and respect for his strength. Immediately after this, Anatoli murdered his father with a bullet to the head. This was interrupted by Batman who proceeded to fight Beast in the snow outside of the cabin.
When Beast overpowered Batman, Batman used his grapple-gun to shoot Beast in the head, snapping his neck. In desperation, Anatoli told Batman he'd confess who he was hired by if Batman sought him medical-help. Batman refused saying he'd put it together on his own before leaving Anatoli in the snow, seemingly to die.
Powers and Abilities
- Cybernetic Enhancement: Supplemented physique due to cybernetic enhancements. Strength, Agility, Stamina and Durability in metahuman level.
- Pain Resistance
- KGB Training: He was highly trained in extreme methods of hand to hand combat and physically as well as mentally trained to deter, capture or kill hostile agents, saboteurs, bandits and other criminal elements. He would also have received training in reconnaissance and sabotage.
- Multi-Lingual: He's able to speak fluent Russian, Spanish, German and English.
- Skilled Combatant: He is a formidable hand to hand combatant, proficient in Sambo, Boxing and Systema.
- Expert Marksman
- Weapons and Explosives Master: Trained in the usage of every weapon imaginable, whether advanced or archaic. Also competent in the use of explosives.
- Espionage Master: Experienced espionage operative.
- Cybernetic Eyepiece: To compensate for the eye removed by Batman, he implemented a cybernetic eye, feeding visual information directly to his brain, the eye is waterproof, shockproof and impact resistant. The eye also has Night Vision, Infrared Vision and Tactical Analysis.
- Left Hand Weapon System: It is a military prosthesis consisting of a titanium alloy, with various types of weapons including a Retractable Sword, Machine Gun and Micro-Rockets. If the Left Hand Weapon System is unavailable (for example, when he was unarmed during No Man's Land), KGBeast will attach a blade to his stump.
- Various Weapons: Including Steel Nunchaku, Sniper rifle, Blades, Rocket launchers and Brass knuckles Spikes.
In Other Media
- Main article: KGBeast (DC Animated Universe)
- Main article: KGBeast (Arkhamverse)
- In the film, Anatoli appears as a minor antagonist working for Lex Luthor. What is strange is that he is Anatoli Knyazev in name alone; he is referred to as, "The Russian", never has anything resembling his costume or technology from the comics, doesn't resemble his comic-book counterpart in any way, and isn't used to adapt any KGBeast's stories or characteristics. He is employed by Lex Luthor to kidnap Superman's mother Martha as a means of blackmailing Superman to fight Batman. After learning that their mothers share the same first name by coincidence, Batman decides not to kill Superman but to rather track down Martha and kill KGBeast when he threatens her with the odd weapon choice of a flame-thrower. Batman uses a batarang to detonate his flamethrower, burning up the room and killing the Russian with Batman using his cape to save Martha.
- KGBeast appears as an enemy in the "Batman" NES game by Sunsoft. His only appearance in the game is at stage 1-2, although he does not appear as a boss. He attacks with a sword and shuriken.