Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur) has moved! You can know find it Friday afternoons at 3 PM, as The Hidden S in Phone Booth is now available Wednesday afternoons at 3 PM. Be sure to mark your calendars! Detective, Teacher, Scottish Nobleman, Former X-man, and All-Around Great Guy: Like I said last week, I miss Generation X and most of its cast (who appear to be scattered to the four winds). Not only did Gen X introduce a host of cool, new mutants in training, but it gave a few off-beat characters a chance in the spotlight that they had always deserved. One, now raised to complete stardom, is the sometimes scary but immensely popular Emma Frost. Up until Gen X, all she had done is run around in corsets trying to kill X-Men off (yes, she was even more of a bitch than she was now. It’s incredible). But the other lead was an old X-Men character who had sat on the shelf for way too long- Sean “Banshee” Cassidy. Sean was one of those X-Men that never seemed to “fit” into the composition of any one team. He had turned down full time duty on several occasions, but whenever things got too hot, he was usually part of whatever back-up team that rescued or searched through another dimension for a team of X-Men that ran into some trouble. To be fair, I never found Banshee super-interesting and there wasn’t much love lost that he wasn’t around more- at first. He never seemed very interested in being a super-hero anyway. Originally, Sean was part of Interpol and more than once he lost his powers (having a mutant power in which one screams sonic blasts lends itself to ‘losing your voice’). He was also the long-time squeeze of Moira McTaggert, the mutant researcher and the woman we all expected Charles Xavier to end up with. More than once, Cassidy put his life on hold just to be with Moira. But once Generation X started, it was like a light bulb went on over your (and the writers’) head. You saw him in this new light- he was like that older single guy who had never quite found what he wanted to do with his life. He had tried a lot of things, but none of them seemed to fit. And then Xavier asked him to teach the new class at his school. And he was good at it. It wasn’t that he was a badass team leader (I mean, he was, but that’s not the point), it’s that he really was good at helping his students figure out who they were. Some people do, and some people teach- that isn’t some shameful insult. Sean was always more human than superhero. X-Men: The End, a cool series that proposes a fictional finale to the X-Men cannon, envisions Kitty Pryde as the pseudo-successor to Xavier’s legacy. For me, after reading Gen X, I could totally see Cassidy as the headmaster of the school in twenty to thirty years. And then, Gen X disappeared off the racks. Alas. The Fun in Dysfunctional: Banshee doesn’t exactly have the healthiest familial relationships. Most notably, his cousin is a very bad man. Known as “Black Tom,” he mostly worked as a mercenary for hire and a (somewhat) small time thief. Juggernaut and Tom go way back, kind of like the X-Men family outcast alliance (Juggernaut is actually Charles Xavier’s step-brother. I know. It’s weird.). Tom can generate blasts of energy through wood, so originally, he had to walk around with a shillelagh to do anything right. During Gen X’s run though, Tom was transformed into a freakish half-plant/wood thing. So he is particularly scary these days. Tom has always hated Sean, and almost always goes to kill him on sight. Of course, unlike most good guy- bad guy relationships in the Marvel Universe, the Cassidy family doesn’t have a simple portrayal of right and wrong. You ever hear that expression that there’s a scapegoat in every family? If you look back over comic book history, you can’t easily say that Sean has always done right by Tom. But mostly, said-vendetta has to do with a woman that he and his cousin were both in love with (cliché, right?): Maeve Rourke. Ultimately, Rourke ended up with Sean and she actually bore him a daughter. That little girl grew up to be Theresa Rourke, a.k.a. Siryn from X-force. Unfortunately, a terrorist bombing killed Theresa’s mother, and in the confusion, Black Tom grabbed Theresa and made off with her. She spent her teenage years believing that Tom was her real father, her only true benefactor. Even after Siryn finally got her life together, things between her and her real father have never seemed to completely patch up nice and neat. Sean has tried on more than one occasion. But the whole thing has been really uncomfortable for both of them. Before Emma Frost and Scott Summers: Originally, Emma Frost was a far more sympathetic and flawed character. I mean, she still had that painful in-your-face perfectionism that has endeared her to so many. But Frost had had a group of students of her own when she worked with the Hellfire Club, appropriately named “The Hellions.” Some of them had badass mutant powers, but Frost really used them as foot soldiers more than taught them to think on their own. And the end result? They died. And by died I mean “were horribly killed.” A bunch of Sentinels waded into them and commenced full mutant slaughter procedures. It wasn’t pretty. And THAT was where Frost started to turn it all around a little bit- it was like she stopped dead in her tracks and took stock of what had just happened. Her students were dead, and she was partly to blame. I always figured Frost and Sean would end up together. I’m not a huge fan of the Summers/Frost romance, mostly because I always just assumed that Scott Summers and Jean Grey belonged together. What I liked about Banshee and Emma as an item was that they were both older and hadn’t quite found where they needed to be. Sean got, even if she had trouble facing it, that she WASN’T the greatest teacher- yet. So essentially? He was even teaching her. He got that she had trouble being vulnerable, all that romantic stuff that you expect a couple to be able to do for each other. Suggested Reading: There isn’t a huge library to choice from with Banshee as a main character, but… Generation X (Obviously. This has barely been reprinted yet, for some reason.) The Age of Apocalypse (This alternate universe features a depiction of Cassidy in which he willingly flies into another mutant named Abyss and screams until there’s nothing left of either of them. War is hell.) X-Men: Deadly Genesis (Recently, Banshee has apparently “died” at the hands of new X-Men villain (and apparently third Summers brother) Vulcan. His death is typically ambiguous though, and I expect he’ll be found alive and well soon. I’ll put money on it.)