Reclaiming Unfortunate Banshee & X-Men History For St Patrick's Day

When Sean Cassidy, The Banshee, was introduced to the X-Men comic books, he looked like this, as created by Roy Thomas, Werner Roth and Dick Myers in 1967 for X-Men #28.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

An Irish character, his portrayal with a small nose and extended upper palate was and was typically a racist way of portraying the Irish in cartoon propaganda in the 19th century, attempting to depict the Irish as ape-like, uncivilised and so less of an issue when they were subdued and oppressed by a British Empire.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

But the portrayal, and the stereotypes that accompany it, also continued into the 20th century, such as this cartoon from as recent as 1970, portraying all Irish as ape-like brutes who need to be civilised.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

This portrayal of Banshee was soon knocked back, looking more like the average American superhero in costume, though with a flat cap, green turtle neck and pipe when not, and a litany of cod "Oirsih" speech. But that aspect was no more underlined than in Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum's first trip to Banshee's ancestral home in Ireland in X-Men #101.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

Because, of course Banshee has an ancestral home in Ireland. Don't all Irish people? Oh, the green and red of Mayo…

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

Of course, things go south fast, the X-Men are under threat from Juggernaut and Black Tom and they need saving by…

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

…leprechauns. Actual leprechauns. That are apparently, part of the castle, a fact that is not meant to be surprising to anyone.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

This is the equivalent to, I don't know, Doctor Who coming to America in The Angels Take Manhattan episode to be saved from the Weeping Angels by a family of bigfoots. Bigfeet. It's just weird. But weirder still, it leads to Wolverine's "real" name being spoken for the first time by one of the little green fellows.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

This was from a time when it was meant to be revealed that Wolverine was actually an evolved Wolverine, by the High Evolutionary, and now we knew him as Logan. Thanks to the leprechauns. Anyway, why all this history? Well, in this week's X-Men Unlimited Infinity comic book, Declan Shalvey and Nick Roche, modern-day Irish comic book creators get to revisit some of this.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

Firstly a little bit of ribbing over the theme park-isation of what is believed to be Irish culture in modern-day America… and especially New York.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

Narrated by a Banshee who is not quite as stereotypical in cadence as he has been portrayed. Admittedly, drinking a Guinness, but still.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

And then, returning home courtesy of a Krakoan gate to Mayo, leaning into the whole bizarre history of the character and his heritage.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

Bringing back the leprechauns, and Black Tom, with some actual Irish language to boot.

A Proper Irish X-Men Comic

Happy St Patrick's Day… Self-mocking and celebrating simultaneously, X-Men Infinity Unlimited #26 is available on Marvel Unlimited, just in time for St Patrick's Day tomorrow. As long as none of us remembers what happened in X Deaths Of Wolverine #4 last week…

Reclaiming Unfortunate Banshee & X-Men History For St Patrick's Day

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic (2021) #26
Published: March 14, 2022
A St. Patrick's Day Special! Banshee returns to his roots at Cassidy Keep… but his ne'er do welling cousin Black Tom has already made himself at home! Guest-starring Siryn.

 

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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