Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I first thought about doing a post on the biggest beer-drinking super heroes and villains, seeing as that in the United States, the holiday is mostly used as an excuse to indulge in adult beverages.
But I didn’t want to disrespect my friends and family of Irish descent, and besides, Wolverine gets plenty of attention the rest of the year. There aren’t a whole lot of Marvel and DC characters who actually hail from the Emerald Isle, but there are enough to be worth writing about. If you include heroes and villains who have Irish heritage but were born elsewhere, the list gets some A-listers, as you’ll see.
Still, we’ll keep it real by starting with characters born in Ireland. Keep them in mind when you’re looking for some comics to read while downing a green beer or a Shamrock Shake today.
Super Heroes and Villains from Ireland
Ask comic fans about Irish heroes and Sean Cassidy is going to be one of the first to come to mind. Banshee went through a pretty standard career path for a mutant in the Marvel universe: started out as a kind of misunderstood villain, became an X-Man, left the X-Men, lost his powers, regained his powers, ended up getting killed (plus he’s been a dead villain in Uncanny Avengers, but I can’t figure out if that book is even in continuity). Fortunately, X-Men are known for “getting better,” so if I was a betting man (and I am!), I’d put money on seeing Banshee again.
Early on, Marvel definitely played up Cassidy’s Irish-ness to the point where it’s kind of painful in retrospect. As you’ll see though, he doesn’t come close to winning the “embarrassing stereotype” competition, even if we just restrict the entrants to members of his own family. Banshee was always alright with me, particularly when he and Forge ran with the X-Men during their Jim Lee, matching uniforms days.
Black Tom Cassidy
Banshee’s evil cousin did him one better in the stereotype department, originally firing his energy bolts through a shillelagh. Go back and read that sentence again. Adding injury to insult, he was later turned into some plant thing, taking his need to channel his power through a wooden object in a ridiculous direction.
Other than that, Black Tom’s claim to fame is probably being BFF’s with the Juggernaut. That’s good work if you can get it, but whereas Juggy eventually saw the error in his evil ways and joined the good guys, the most Cassidy has ever done is have some attacks of conscience. I guess that’s better than nothing.
The daughter of Banshee, Theresa Cassidy inherited his sonic powers (as an aside, I like how some mutants inherit their parents’ powers and others don’t). She’s also had her share of rotten mutant hero luck, including being raised by Black Tom and beginning her career as a villain, getting into a romantic quadrangle with Jamie Madrox, M and one of Madrox’s duplicates, and temporarily losing her powers.
She also took her father’s code name after he was killed, and she became something called the Morrigan. I’m not exactly sure what that is. Some writer is going to have to give poor Theresa a break at some point.
Now we’re getting into characters Marvel should be at least partially ashamed to have created. Molly Fitzgerald’s power is to channel spirits who give her the literal “luck of the Irish,” projecting a good luck field around her. Oh boy.
Her costume also has a giant shamrock on it, so there’s that. If that’s not enough, there’s apparently a story about how she got fat after retiring from life as a super hero. On the positive side, Molly can always say she was part of the winning team from the Contest of Champions. What’s that? She was on Death’s team and lost? Never mind.
Lest you think we’re ignoring DC, we’ve got the man with the magic lantern. No, not Alan Scott, but Daniel Cormac, the first of three men to call themselves Jack O’ Lantern. I first encountered him as a bad guy serving under Queen Bee in an issue of Justice League Europe, though he was a member of the Global Guardians, kind of a worldwide poor man’s Justice League, before that.
I felt like the actual lantern’s powers weren’t that well-defined, but Wikipedia says it gave Jack flame projection, enhanced strength, flight, teleportation, and the ability to create illusions or fogs. That should have made him a real badass. He was not.
Not a bad concept really, in the sense that he’s a vengeful spirit. Why is he gay, as in happy? It’s not clear. Golden Age comics, FTW. He did get featured in Grant Morrison’s awesome run on Animal Man, so that’s a plus.
For super heroes and villains who simply trace their ancestry to Ireland, click on over to page 2 of this post.