Minorities in comics and animation: Bumblebee

This week’s entry is Bumblebee (real name: Karen Beecher). Bumblebee first appeared in “Teen Titans” #45 (December 1976). She was created by writer Bob Rozakis and artist Irv Novick. Bumblebee has been a member of various superhero teams, but most prominently the Teen Titans.

Background

A scientist, Karen first appeared as the girlfriend of a member of the Titans (Mal Duncan, one of DC’s first Black male superheroes). Karen joined the team after impressing them with her skills, including her creation of a bumblebee-themed super-suit.

Joining the west coast “Titans West” team, Karen fought crime as a Titan. She eventually semi-retired from crimefighting (with the dissolution of the Titans team) and married her boyfriend. In the comics, she’s since experienced a long list of events. Karen’s come out of retirement on various occasions, divorced her husband, been permanently shrunk in height to the size of an actual bee, and joined the Doom Patrol.

Karen’s also a recurring character in the “Tiny Titans” comic.

Bumblebee’s super-suit allows her to fly (via bee-like wings) and generate sonic blasts. In the “Teen Titans” series, Karen usually uses a pair of handheld “stingers” that generate electrical blasts, and has the ability to shrink in size.

Other media

Bumblebee’s also appeared outside of the mainstream DCU, the most prominent role being in the “Teen Titans” TV series. There, Karen is first seen as an undercover spy in HIVE’s student academy. She later becomes a founding member of the Titans’ east coast branch, “Titans East.” Actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh voices Bumblebee.

Karen’s also appeared in the TV series “Young Justice,” where she was voiced by Masasa Moyo.

(Updated 11/14/16)

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