Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Key Issues - Black Tom Cassidy

Cover, Michael Ryan and Rick Ketcham
Do you like Juggernaut?  Most people do.  He's unstoppable and that has created some fantastic battle scenes against heroes like Thor, Colossus, and the Hulk.  In this post I'd like to give a little recognition to the man who is responsible for many of those battles, Black Tom Cassidy.  Tom was created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum back in 1976.  He and Juggernaut first fought the X-Men at Cassidy Keep in X-Men #101 - 103.  Unfortunately, we only get to see Tom in issues involving either his cousins, Banshee and Siryn, or the man I can't believe is still is friend, Cain Marko.  He's primarily portrayed as a killer for hire, usually as the brains behind some plan that unleashes Juggernaut.  He hasn't shown up, except for flashbacks, since New Excalibur #13 back in 2007.  I believe there is more to Tom that would make a very interesting story and hopefully someone at Marvel will figure that out.  If you work for Marvel and you're still reading this, take a look after the list of key issues to see what you could potentially do with the character.

X-Men #99
:  1st appearance (cameo)
X-Men #101:  1st appearance (full).  Unfortunately, this is also the 1st appearance of Phoenix so you can't find this one very cheap.
Spider-Woman #38:  Tom reveals that Theresa Cassidy (Siryn) is actually Sean's (Banshee) daughter.
Classic X-Men #16:  The back up story in this reprint of X-Men #109 details history between Banshee and Black Tom and their affections for Maeve Rourke.
X-Force #3:  Tom and Juggernaut and huge explosions at the World Trade Center.  One of many Harsher in Hindsight issues from Marvel.
X-Force #4:  Tom is shot by Cable and falls down an elevator shaft.
Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1:  Tom gets his plant-like form after being genetically altered.
X-Force #31:  Lots of backstory regarding Siryn and Tom.  Tom is arrested.
Deadpool: Sins of the Past #1 - 4:  In this series Tom tries to obtain cells from Deadpool to heal his dying self.  It really shows his ruthlessness.
Generation X #25:  Black Tom fights Banshee, Emma Frost, and Howard the Duck before being taken down by Penance.
Uncanny X-Men #411 - 412:  Tom's powers become uncontrollable, he kills the staff of Cassidy Keep and destroys the castle.
X-Men #162:  Tom kills Sammy Pare (Squid-Boy) who had befriended Juggernaut. 
New Excalibur #7:  Tom attacks Excalibur and has to deal with Juggernaut and the killing of Sammy Pare.  Tom arrested.
New Excalibur #13:  Juggernaut visits Tom in prison as his powers are fading.  Tom is remorseful about killing Sammy Pare.

Cover, Churchill and LaRosa

I don't know where Claremont and Cockrum got their inspiration for Black Tom, but he does have a parallel in Irish literature.  In the 18th century, Tomas O' Caiside was ordained as an Augustinian friar and was defrocked because of his marriage to a young woman.  Tomas left Ireland and became a soldier for hire in Europe.  He wrote a semi-autobiographical poem, An Caisideach Ban (Fair Haired Cassidy), about a man who is yearning for the love that he could not have.  The song Carrickfergus by Van Morrison and the Chieftains is a variation of the traditional folk song based on the poem.  If you don't know your Black Tom history, here is the parallel.  Black Tom worked as a mercenary as well which is where he first met Juggernaut.  In addition, Black Tom was in love with Banshee's wife, Maeve Rourke who later was killed by an IRA bombing.  An interesting take on the character would be to see his transformation from Tom Cassidy through his years as a mercenary into the cruel villain Black Tom who is pretty trigger happy compared to many other X-Men villains.

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