Top Ten Irish Comic Book Characters
We currently live in a world which, unfortunately, has a bad habit of conveniently placing the Irish nation into small stereotypical boxes – a habit which is evident in many media art forms. We’ve seen TV shows that cast Scottish actors as Irish because, let’s face it, why worry as long as the actor sounds vaguely ‘not English’. We’ve seen movies where we spend our days in the fields and nights in the local pub singing songs about the British and marvelling at new technology like ‘microwaves’.
We decided to delve deep into the medium of comic books as a quick turn up of Daredevil and Captain America– who has Irish parents – elated our hearts. Unfortunately, we are going to have to draw the line at the progeny of the diaspora. Sorry Cap – we are not trying to take Article 2 away from you – we just want to focus on those Irish superheroes that were born firmly in the home thirty-two.
Without further ado, we give you the Ramp.ie eight Top Ten Irish Comic Book Characters.
8. ‘Black’ Thomas Cassidy
A member of the Marvel’s Cassidy Clan, Tom was the heir to the Cassidy Estate and fortune, but, being an addict to both gambling and alcohol (check) he lost everything on a roll of the dice to his younger cousin, that broguey rogue we all love, Seán, also known as Banshee.
Tom embarked on a life of crime and, at some point, gained the mutant ability to channel blasts of heat from wooden objects. Armed with his shillelagh (check) he travelled the world committing acts of crime under the guise of a soldier of fortune. It was during this time that he conveniently abducted and raised the child that Banshee never knew he had, saving his cousin from suffering a bout of ‘continuity errors’, but more on that later.
At a later stage in his career he gained and has since, thankfully, lost a secondary mutation which looks like it was the ability to cosplay as Treebeard at Comic Con.
Nigel Keane was born in Belfast and signed up for the Police Force in his early adulthood. Rising through the ranks he transferred to Scotland Yard to investigate IRA (check) activities.
While in London he falls in love with his partner Anne, in what turns out to be a tragically placed plot device. Nigel and Anne are investigating a crime when an Irish Mercenary (read: IRA Member – check) named Seamus O’Brien appears and kills Anne. In the ensuing scuffle Nigel is fatally wounded – but before dying his powers manifest; he turns into a being of pure energy, or as scientists name it ‘a gaseous sentient post-human entity’. As Hellstrike, Nigel goes on to become an active member in a UN-sanctioned superhero squad named StormWatch One.
Hellstrike is one of the rarer Irish comic book characters, those that do not wield an ‘Ach to be sure’ accent like a bad American remake of The Quiet Man. Instead he chooses to punctuate sentences the Belfast way.
No sign yet of him overusing the word ‘Situation’.
Proinsias Cassidy (no relation to the Marvel Cassidys) is the creation of County Down born writer Garth Ennis. Cassidy was born in the late 19th century, a date that only serves to make him old enough to fight in the Easter Rising as a member of the IRB (check).
He served in the IRB with his brother, Billy, who seemed to work out quicker than Collins that this whole Rising thing wasn’t going to end well. They both decide to turn tail and head home.
As night falls they decide to stop beside a swamp, obviously ignoring the common sense list of ‘places you should never think are a good idea to lay your head’. We believe that a swamp is firmly placed between ‘in a fire’ and ‘beside a shifty looking badger’.
Billy awakens to witness his brother receiving the Immortality Lovebite from a ‘Hag’ (check). He shoots the vampire and runs away, leaving Cassidy for dead.
Cassidy wakes up the next day and, through the process of bursting aflame in the sunlight, realises that he is now one of the undead. Not wanting to burden his family with this truth, he hops a boat across the Atlantic to the good ol’ U.S of A, otherwise known as ‘The Land Where Comic Book Stories Occur’.
Cassidy’s story plays out in the amazing comic book run named Preacher created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Go. Read.
5. Judge Joyce
Judge Sergeant Joyce, the law of Murphyville (check), is another Ennis creation that does little to hide the fact that he is the embodiment of a parody, in turn this makes the stout-swilling (check) laid back officer more lovable.
He is introduced to Judge Dredd, whose uptight nature prevents any friendship from forming. Joyce’s world is rocked when a Mega-City criminal hires the IRA – we mean the ‘Sons of Erin’ (check) to launch an attack on Murphyville, a threat that the two Judges join together to thwart.
With his green uniform and tricolour sergeant’s patch he couldn’t be more of a stereotype if he had Harps plastered all over his uniform.
4. Silver Banshee
Siobhán McDougal was born on an island midway between Ireland and Scotland. While travelling around the world, she receives news that her father – the head of her family – has passed away. Siobhán returns home to undergo a supernatural fae-like ritual (check) which the leader’s firstborn must undertake in order to earn the mantle of clan leader.
Siobhán’s uncle is quite pissed off at this. You see, he apparently had RTÉ switched off through the reigns of Thatcher and both President Marys, because he believes that a woman does not have the requisite attributes to lead. He interrupts the ritual at a crucial point, which causes Siobhán to be sent to a fae underworld (check) where a crone (check) gives her the curse of the banshee (check).
She is allowed to return to earth to search for a book that belongs to the crone. As the Silver Banshee her search leads her to Metropolis where, in the worst example of Irish decision making since Mr. and Mrs. Grimes decided to have children, she proceeds to square off against Superman.
3. Seán Cassidy
With his ‘me boyos’ and ‘begorrahs’, Banshee is the quintessential stereotype of the Irish superhero.
Born in County Mayo and proving that an All-Ireland loss will not keep a man down, Seán Cassidy is a Trinity-educated Interpol agent who was married to the girl of his dreams.
Discovering his mutant power of shrieking – sorry, ‘creating sonic waves’ – while working at Interpol, he keeps the power hidden. Presumably out of a fear of ridicule.
While Seán is deployed on a deep undercover mission, his wife is able to go through the majority of a pregnancy and the birth of his daughter without his knowledge. She takes their new daughter to Armagh to visit family, where a giant cigar-shaped alien mothership descends from the heavens and abducts his family, never to be seen again. We jest – an IRA bomb (check) detonates, killing Seán’s wife. Luckily, his cousin Black Tom was also in the vicinity where he saved Seán’s baby and raised her as his own.
After hearing the news about his wife, Seán leaves Interpol and spends the next few years travelling the world as a free agent, before taking the name that would forever mark him as a man that knew next to nothing about the Irish language or its mythology.
Unfortunately, Banshee was killed off in recent years, which is a crime, as for all his Scottish sayings that were passed off as Irish, he was still our first mainstay in any mainstream franchise of the comic book world. He was one of the X-Men.
2. Theresa Maeve Rourke Cassidy
As we know from the above entries, Theresa did not have the greatest start in life; when her powers manifested she was conscripted by ‘Uncle’ Tom into his deviant criminal ways. However, it seems that Theresa’s mutant powers are the same as her fathers – to yell quite loudly – we have never understood how this is helpful in an illegal situation.
Having had more names than Puff Diddy, Theresa is shown to be the Marvel Universe’s whipping girl for terrible storylines.
Originally named Siryn, showing a remarkable family trait of not quite understanding your code-name, she eventually took ‘Banshee’ after her father’s passing – causing hundreds of geeks to sigh in relief. ‘Finally’, they cried ‘Marvel sort of got it right’.
It was during this time that she fell into bed with Jamie Madrox – The Multiple Man. If the name isn’t a clue, this is a guy who can create copies of himself; this leads to a hilarious storyline where it’s revealed that he slept with another woman at the exact same time as he is sleeping with Theresa – but the catch is, he was drunk and can’t remember which girl slept with the real version of him. Haha. It gets better, Theresa is now pregnant. Hoho.
We wish we were lying about this – truly we do.
It gets worse. Now, Theresa gives birth to a lovely baby boy who she names Seán after her father. Jamie walks into the room and holds his child for the first time, at which point Seán is absorbed back into his father.
If you skimmed that last bit HE ABSORBED HIS OWN BABY.
You see, when Jamie Madrox touches one of his duplicates it gets absorbed back into his body. Apparently, this even includes the progeny of his duplicates.
Ramp.ie apologises for giving you this information.
More recently however, Theresa has become the living embodiment of Morrigan (check) who is a member of an extra-terrestrial race known as the Tuatha da Danaan (check).
Molly Fitzgerald appears in about 10 comic book issues overall, but her story is just too fantastically weeping Irish we couldn’t dream of leaving her off of this list.
She was born into an IRA (check) family and, when she was young, her father took her and her brother to the mountains and asked the heavens (Catholicism: check) to grant her brother the power to destroy their enemy, the British (check). The Irish Gods, being as useful as a hungover bank cashier, managed to wait 16 years before bestowing the powers upon the child, and when they did, it was the wrong child.
Molly was given the powers of good luck (check) – in that random improbabilities would manifest around Molly, usually in her favour.
So, Molly’s good luck powers had to have a source correct? That’s right! Molly is the vessel for any, presumably, Irish soul that was killed during a war, so, whenever she is in trouble a soul appears and creates ghost luck that – actually, no, just, no.
Out of all the Irish Superheroes available she alone was selected to represent Ireland in the Contest of Champions; this is where she first crossed paths with Captain Britain. Dun-dun-DUN.
Thankfully, the Troubles were not reignited at this point.
Molly’s good luck eventually ran out; she has now, without her powers, embarked on a career of being an internationally famous hairdresser to the super-powered.
And Ireland is now left without her local hero.