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Ramblings & Reviews

Irish Comic Book Characters & Graphic Novels

Road to Perdition

First one off is the graphic novel Road to Perdition written by Max Allan Collins, with fantastic art by Richard Piers Rayner.

Set during the prohibition era of Al Capone and Elliot Ness, the protagonist is Michael O’Sullivan, a ruthless but honorable enforcer of Irish mob boss John Rooney. When he is betrayed – resulting in his wife and child being murdered – O’Sullivan sets out to protect his only surviving child and exact revenge. 

In 2002 it was adapted into a film starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman.

Follow up graphic novels by Max Allen Collins include On the Road to Perdition drawn by José Luis García-López and Steve Lieber, and Return to Perdition drawn by Terry Beatty.

Black Canary

Black Canary with Zatanna.
From the Paul Dini graphic novel Bloodspell drawn by Joe Quinones.

From Banshee to Siryn to Silver Banshee it seems like many Irish comic book characters have superhuman vocal traits – drawn from the old Irish folklore of the Banshee. The Black Canary is no exception.

Created by the writer-artist team of Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino, the Black Canary is a master in hand-to-hand combat. Her superpower is the canary cry, an ultrasonic vibration when she screams that can disable an opponent.

Daredevil

Daredevil was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett – and later retooled by Wally Wood.

While growing up in the gritty Irish-American neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, Matt Murdock saves a pedestrian by pushing him out of the way of an oncoming truck but in doing so is struck by a radioactive substance that falls from the vehicle.

His exposure to the radioactive chemicals blinds him, but also heightens his remaining senses giving him superhuman abilities.

The Netflix series Daredevil draws heavily from Frank Miller’s take on the character.

I HIGHLY recommend the acclaimed graphic novel Daredevil: Born Again by writer Frank Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli (pictured above).

Secret Agent X-9

I’m sneaking a comic strip character into the mix here…

Secret Agent X-9 was created by writer Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) and drawn by artist Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon) and first ran in newspapers on January 22, 1934. In the 1960s it was written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Al Williamson and relaunched as Secret Agent Corrigan.

Though never referred to as Irish, when I wrote and drew a cross-over story between Secret Agent X-9 and Flash Gordon in the year 2000, my version of X-9 was always an Irish-American.

And when X-9 and Flash first come face-to-face, I had no other than legendary EC artist George Evans draw the page…

And last but not least…

Captain America

 Captain America was created by the legendary team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1941. The iconic cover of Captain America punching Hitler in the face came out a full 8 months before the United States even entered the war.


From a 2016 Buzz.ie article by Ruairi Scott Byrne:

While Captain America may be a representation of the ultimate American, it turns out that the Marvel superhero is actually just a good ole Irish lad at heart.

Chris Evans, who portrays Cap in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has revealed the character’s deep Irish roots and how his own Irish family made him a better man.

“There are a lot of similarities between us. I was raised a good Catholic Irish boy at heart, so was ‘Cap’,” the actor told the Irish Sun. “Our sensibilities and ideologies come from that. That sense of morality, very much stems from that.”

“The difference is Cap was first generation Irish. His folks actually came from Ireland, they came over at the turn of the last century. Yeah, I read all this in the notes, Marvel sends it to you, they want you knowing your research.

“So everything he knew from a young age was Irish. And that’s a big part of who he is, that moral code he lives by, you know, you could totally call him Captain Ireland,” he said.

Evans hails from Boston and revealed that ‘being a good catholic boy’ helped to teach him his manners.

“My heritage is a little more diluted, there’s Italian but we were definitely an Irish Catholic house. I’m a good Catholic Irish boy. And I like to think I’ve held onto that.

“I think my attitude is very reflective of that. I like to be direct and to the point but also polite and respectful at the same time,” he added.

By Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip, he is also the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip - both available at ComicsKingdom.com. A graduate of the Joe Kubert School, Keefe likewise teaches Comic Art. Teaching and speaking engagements include SVA in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs, The University of Minnesota and most recently the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

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