186 Reasons Chris Claremont is Awesome #2: The Retirement of Banshee

When Chris Claremont took the relaunched X-Men team in issue #94, he immediately did house-cleaning.  Giant-Size X-Men had ended with Angel asking what are they going to do with 13 X-Men, and in just three pages that question was answered when six members quit (Sunfire, Angel, Havok, Polaris, Iceman and Marvel Girl).  By the end of the next issue, another was gone when Thunderbird got himself all blowed up.

On a tangent note, the question of having 13 X-Men is laughable for today’s fan, as Marvel would simply launch four more titles, add 13 more X-Men in, and only use five of them with any kind of regularity.  But I digress.

Claremont’s lineup kept Cyclops as the veteran leader, new characters Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus as the out-of-their element rookies, Wolverine as the grizzled loner, and Banshee as the second-in-command, since he was not only a veteran in many different fields, but also a returning supporting character from the original book.

Though the distance from nose to mouth was greatly reduced.

And though I rarely hear anyone praising Banshee during this period, his story was one of the more interesting subplots (of the thousands Claremont would have running).  Unlike the others just beginning their careers as super-heroes, Banshee had been there and done that, not only as a hero (and villain, for that matter), but as an Interpol agent and NYPD cop.  And thus, the wear and tear of full-time heroics did not completely appeal to him, though a nod of convincing from Professor X would keep him going.

Though, if you think about what’s been revealed about Professor X in the past few years, maybe it was something of a mental push as well.

But it wasn’t just Banshee’s concerns of his age and weariness that was holding him back, but also a limitation to his body.  Unlike the other members of the team, Banshee found himself overtaxing his powers.  This was first demonstrated during the battle for the M’Krann Crystal when he found himself being overwhelmed by Crystal guardian Jahf, who he had to use as heavy a scream as he could, leaving his throat so raw he could barely speak.

Finally, in the X-Men’s trip to Japan, Banshee used his powers past all of his limits in keeping the villain Moses Magnum from sinking the island nation into the Pacific Ocean.  The move hospitalized him, and left him completely powerless.  His attempts to use his sonic scream in the next fight against Alpha Flight caused him so much pain, he passed out before Vindicator, shocking the Canuck.

The loss of powers might have caused Banshee to call it a day right there, except that the team’s return to the X-Mansion after months away found it completely shut down and locked up, and he had to help the team restore it, getting caught up in a battle against Arcade in Murderworld in which he again found himself more often than not a hindrance to the rest of the team, at least in his own mind.

Just after their return home, the team was called to Muir Island to take on Proteus, and Banshee found himself again taking a backseat role, this time even spending the majority of the fight in regular clothes rather than his costume.  Finally reunited with his love Moira MacTaggert and feeling his spot on the team was adequately filled by the rejoining of Phoenix, Banshee finally retired from the team to help run the Muir Island lab.

And that’s where Claremont kept him for over 100 issues.

But it’s not like he simply vanished.  Moira was still an important figure to the X-Men (and later New Mutants) and usually wherever she was, Banshee would be right next to her.  Though, as a point, Claremont made sure to keep him powerless, as the injuries to his throat would not be a quick fix like so many “serious” injuries found in comics.  Eventually Banshee’s sonic scream would return and he’d find himself back with the X-Men, but that is a story for another day.

But in having a character actually worry about their aging body, then be not only forced to retire but staying there for a long while is just another reason why Chris Claremont is awesome.


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