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My Favorite Dead Marvel Characters: Banshee

Lately I’ve been thinking about how many of my favorite Marvel characters are deceased. Now I’m not talking about A-list characters here, maybe not even B-list. Dunno how you determine that anyway. The point is, I really miss some of these guys and I wish they weren’t dead. At least when a character isn’t being used you have some hope that someone will dust them off and bring them back into the spotlight again. The worst is when that someone brings them back just to unceremoniously kill them in their storyline to give their story some punch (or prove their new villain is hardcore or just to be shocking or maybe it’s pointless).

Anyway, when I was introduced to the All-New Different X-Men, I really thought Banshee (aka Sean Cassidy) was cool. I didn’t understand why he used a codename that has always been mythologically associated with a female entity (The word “banshee” is from the Old Irish, baen “woman” + síde: “fairy, otherwordly.”), but I liked that he was Irish and he seemed older than the other characters. He was always going on about how he was too old to be superheroing and in spite of his reticence he hung in there and was an asset to the team.
When I learned that the character had been in older X-Men issues as a Factor Three villain (albeit brainwashed) and had been an Interpol agent, I really thought Banshee had some interesting dimensions as a character. And then there’s his history with his villainous cousin Black Tom (longtime partner of the Juggernaut) as they fought over women, the inheritance of Cassidy Keep (their ancestral land) and how their powers didn’t work on each other (you were always guaranteed some fisticuffs when they encountered each other; Marvel has a funny rule that if you are a mutant, then your powers don’t work on your relatives, see Havok and Cyclops for more ). Black Tom kept the existence of Banshee’s daughter, Siryn, from him until she was an adult.

Shortly after Banshee joined the X-men with Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, etc, he met Professor Xavier’s former love, geneticist Moira MacTaggert and fell in love. Their relationship lasted a long time (especially by comic book standards) and Banshee was there for Moira when she mourned her dead son Kevin, aka Proteus, (this was after Banshee lost his powers for a time after a battle with villain Moses Magnum). I loved Sean and Moira together. They made a lot of sense to me as a couple and I think it created some interesting tension between Professor X and Moira (he was in love with Lilandra at this time).

Banshee served as Headmaster of the Xavier Academy for a while with Emma Frost (see issues of Generation X). The tension between the two was really fun to read about and I liked Banshee’s strong father figure tendencies with the students, especially mouthy Jubilee and stuck up M.
After Moira was killed by Mystique, Banshee lost it, got all Tony Stark, er, I mean, alcoholic and then got all Iron Man, er, I mean, paramilitary and started X-Corp (even recruiting super-villains to his cause). Mystique slit his throat for his trouble, but didn’t kill him. That would be left to Ed Brubaker in the X-Men: Deadly Genesis mini-series in which Banshee fails to save a plane full of civilians when the plane crashes into him.
I distinctly remember scenes from an Uncanny X-Men story on Muir Isle (Moira’s research center) when Banshee (still sans powers) trains Dazzler, Rogue, Psylocke and Longshot. He smokes his pipe (a trademark of the character) and teaches them how to work together as a team. I liked him in the role of teacher. It suited him. I also remember how he and Forge had a tight friendship. Those two were always reliable supporting characters for the X-Men.
I forgot to mention the leprehauns. Yeah, Cassidy Keep is full of ’em. They helped out Nightcrawler once. And now that Banshee is dead, his daughter has inherited the Keep, leprechauns, pipe and all. In X-Factor, scribe Peter David wrote Siryn refusing to believe that her father was dead, citing all the X-Men who have died and returned. She has a point. In Marvel Comics, RIP might as well stand for “Return In Progress,” but will that hold true for Banshee? I dinna know, me boyos and lassies, but I hope so.

FYI:  The artists of the above images are Jim Lee (the top two), Lee Weeks, (I’m not sure who painted the Ultra Card) & Bryan Hitch.

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3 Comments

  1. I quit comics (for the nth time) shortly after Generation X #25. Up until then it was a great ride, and yes, I thought that Lobdell and Bachalo used Banshee to great effect.

    Was saddened to hear he was killed off. But comics will be comics.

    This was a great retrospective on the character. Cheers!

  2. stormantic

    Thanks for the comment, Brian! I didn’t really talk much about Generation X, but I enjoyed seeing Banshee in Headmaster capacity. Thinking about it makes me want to read all those issues from the beginning!

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