Friday, March 16, 2007

For Guiness, Fighting and the Irish Way....Top Ten Irish Superheroes!

1. The Gay Ghost.(Keith Everet)

Hey, St. Patrick's Day isn't just about Guinness you know, (there's Jamesons, Paddys, Irish Mist and Baileys as well), and I like to celebrate this day, as I do every day, with a hint of the bizarre. Last year I presented my top ten heroes of Irish comedy this year I present my top ten Irish Superheroes, (well I could only find ten there's even a Wikipedia page that features 7 of them).

First up is the Gay Ghost, created in 1942 by Gardener Fox and Howard Purcell. Gay Ghost seems to be a Spectre type superhero, with a hilariously convoluted origin story involving true love, highwaymen, immigration, Nazis and stuff. He was later renamed the 'Grim Ghost' , wonder why. Oh and he's from Connaught Castle in...wait for it...Ulster?

2. Hellstrike (Nigel Keane)

From Wiki Wooo: "Nigel was born Irish in Belfast. He served in the British police constabulary in Belfast for some years before moving to London. There, he fell in love with Anne, his partner while investigating the IRA. Their relationship lasted until an Irish terrorist/mercenary by the name of Seamus O'Brien, killed her in front of him. In the ensuing fight, Keane was mortally wounded. But before dying, his powers manifested, saving his life and making him Hellstrike" Would be nice to see an Irish superhero that had nothing to do with the 'troubles', like some fat GAA fan from Carlow that drank some radioactive Guinness or something and could lay toxic Guinness logs that could incapacitate enemies....

3. Siryn (Theresa Rourke Cassidy)

From Wikipedia: Like her father, the X-Men’s Banshee, Siryn is an Irish mutant, who possesses a "sonic scream" capable of incapacitating and injuring an opponent's hearing and sending powerful vibrations through the air. She can use these vibrations to fly. Her name derives from the sirens of Greek mythology. Thankfully with the X-Men, and Siryn and Banshee you're pretty safe from political issues being shoehorned in imagine how it could've been: "Siryn got her powers from accidentally swallowing a radioactive megaphone at a 1960s Befast civil rights marchs...."

4. Proinsias Cassidy

With Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion at the helm, you'd guess there would a prominent Irish character as soon as they got a high-profile gig like The Preacher. Cassidy is an Irish vampire born in 1900 allowing him to be jammed into historical events like the Rising in the manner of Young Indiana Jones you know when you happen to be in Russia during the revolution and you just happen to bump into a young Lenin. Bet the yanks lap it up like Ennis was an inner city Belfast kid who esacped the troubles through reading Superman or something, but as most know he had a pretty mundane middle-class upbringing and much of his troubles-inspired violence is as voyeuristic as the next comics writer. Thank god though someone from Northern Ireland at least was writing about Northern Ireland in comics.

5. Slaine

Kinda like when Cillian Murphy takes out all those weird army blokes in 28 Days Later, there was always a certain perverse pleasure in seeing Slaine chopping shite out of Romans and Saxons alike. With this and Finn Pat Mill's hard on for all things 'Celtic' was cemented. Slaine was more or less the Cuchulain we learned about in school but with more violence and semi-naked statuesque women, with axes, and dwarves....see what reading 2000ad as a teen does to the adult libido.

6. Banshee (Sean Cassidy)

Probably the best known Irish superhero in the Marvel universe, ginger and freckled, of course, and often seen in a big Aran Sweater and smoking a clay pipe, especially in front of high tech danger room scenes. Thankfully never says things like 'jaysus lads what'ye up te at all?' 'look at ye Wolverine, sure you've got a big angry head on ya altogether'. His biog has usual Irish superhero cliches: being part of some law enforcement agency, in love, tragedy of some sort because of the 'troubles', but he he can shout really loud so it's ok.

7. Jack O'Lantern (Daniel Cormack)

I'll leave it to wikipedia there's bombs and farmers involved yet again: Daniel Cormack of Ireland was born to a poor farmer who was granted a magic lantern by an Irish fairy. His first recorded mission was to help Green Lantern dismantle a bomb in Ireland (Super Friends 9). He appeared in three solo back up stories ion Super Friends 37, 40 and 44. He also helped Superman find an ancient ruin in Ireland (DC Comics Presents 46). Kinda cool to almost an Irish Green Lantern, such an obvious window of opportunity there.

8. The Shamrock (Molly Fitzgerald)

I first read the Shamrock's intro story in Marvel Comics Presents, it was quite funny reading this story where mordern Ireland was still be represented like it was the 1800s at the same time as stuff that was going on in 2000ad, Crisis Revolver and Deadline. Gotta love her backstory (from wiki woo)

Molly Fitzgerald's father was a fanatically militant Irish nationalist. When she was three years old, her father called out to the heavens to grant her brother Paddy the power to strike down his enemies, but there appeared to be no effect. Not until Molly's freshman year in college did she discover that she had obtained mutant powers, a protective aura that altered probability around her and she became the costumed hero Shamrock.

Other Shamrock info from Marvel and this great Marvel universe site oh which also has an alternate version of The Shamrock, a member of S.H.E. (Superheroes of Europe)

9. Judge Joyce

Now we're talking! pass the synthi-stout, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion's creation of Judge Joyce, a relaxed Judge of the Dreddverse version of Ireland "The Emerld Isle" was an excellent foil to the uptight Dredd. When you were a huge Dredd fan in Ireland and seeing the Brit Cit, Pan Africa and Hondo Cit Judges it was a great thrill to see the Irish themed suits of Joyce and co, all named after Irish writers. 2000ad check list here, Innocents Abroad available here. Judge Joyce brings back memories for me as he was one of the prominent figures in my art portfolio while attemptiong to get into art college back in the day, I remember one interviewer turning up his nose at my John Hicklenton*, Death's Head II inspired wank, I wouldn't mind but he was wearing a Roy Lichtenstein tie.

10. Hitman (Tommy Monaghan)

Ennis again, Tommy Monaghan is a great character a normal average everyday Irish hitman who get superpowers and skirts around the edge of DC Comics' superhero universe (there;'s an Irish ghetto of Gotham City called 'The Cauldron' who knew?!) slyly passing comment on it all in a pomo stylee:

Hitman chronicles the exploits of Tommy Monaghan, a contract killer from the Irish part of Gotham City. He first appeared in The Demon Annual #2 (part of the "Bloodlines" crossover in the summer of 1993), where he is bitten by an alien. The bite grants him the unexpected powers of x-ray vision and moderate telepathy. He decides to specialize in killing superhumans and supernatural threats.

Well that's it until next year, what can be next? 10 ten Irish porn stars? that'll be harder to compile then this list . So remember, if you're ginger, plant and/or have loved ones killed by IRA bombs, have power over luck, cause like Shamrocks always have to do with luck don't they, or may that's clovers, have your own castle or are a hitman, watch out becse you might be Ireland next superhero!!

*John Hicklenton was one of my favourite British comic artists and he seems to has disappeared without a trace, does anyone know what happened to him? Found that wiki bit but what has he been doing?


Caddy Powers Jr said...

Wait, what Shamrock is a chick. Huh! I never read a story with her in it so I just knew her through discriptions. I thought she was a he. Makes more sense with the hairdresser bit though as I don't see Marvel writing too many superhero hairdresser men who aren't Gay (and in comics I always assumed that Irish people can't be gay and are boreline drunks)

Read the Irish Dread stories a while back. Love the fact that all the Potatoes were fake!

Finally, "he's from Connaught Castle in...wait for it...Ulster?" ... Classic

Anonymous said...

Finnegan Aloysius Sinister?!

Martin said...

John Hicklton was recently interviewed in the Judge Dredd megazine - worth a read if you're into his stuff. He's returning to 2000AD this year again working with Pat Mills on a return of Satanus...

fústar said...

Great post.

Never heard of Jack O'Lantern before but I love the design/concept. If I'm ever in the position, he'll be top of my list for an Alan Moore/Grant Morrison type revival.

He'll be brought back only to be brutally murdered by some trans-dimensional demonic entity of course...

Sinéad said...

Hi Lorcan, do you have an email address? Just wanted to ask you about something.

boogie said...

sheamus o'shaunessy is the only irish superhero worth talking about...

Lorcy said...

Ah lads, cheers for the comments, made staying up until 6am after a bar shift the night before paddy's day well worth it! God know's what's going this friday!

I must scan in the shamrock story I have at home, she has an entry in mark grunwald's great handbook of the marvel universe:

she's from Dunshaughlin! has green hair (what a surprise) and green eyes (ahhh) "Shamrock is an above average athlete with suberb gymnastic skills and extensive expereince in hand-to-hand combat" (that's like the default position of nearly every Marvel character)

Martin: cheers for the info, at least he isn't dead, his art's so mad I feared a goner.

Fustar: weirdly the 'Gay Ghost', aka the Grim Ghost was in some of Morrison's run on Animal Man, do trendy comic book writers have some sort of 'obscur-o-meter' when choosing what characters to revamp?

ask away, answers will be honest, but I cannot guarantee intelligence or usefulness though...

Liam G said...

I'm somewhat disappointed to see that Hell's Kitchen's homegrown hero Matty Murdock (aka Daredevil) doesn't make the top 10. Is this just one more example of the insulocentric thinking ism that excludes the diaspora time after time? Check the constitution, being born there doesn't make you Irish anymore:-)

Pádi said...

Some might not count him as a super-hero but Angel from "Buffy the vampire Slayer" and "Angel", obviously, would kick-ass against most of that list.