I actually delayed purchasing this Marvel Legends figure of Banshee for some time. It wasn't that I didn't like the character. In fact I do. It was just -- well, ultimately, I had to resolve myself to the fact that an action figure of a character whose super-power is a high-powered sonic scream is more than likely going to be sculpted with the mouth wide open.
Then again, this figure is certainly preferable to the first Banshee figure from years ago, which actually had a whistle mounted in it in order to emulate Banshee's scream itself. That was more than a bit weird.
So I ultimately decided to get the Marvel Legends Banshee figure. Let's take a look at the character's background:
Banshee is Sean Cassidy, a native Irishman. Sean was the heir to both a small fortune and a castle in Cassidy Keep, Ireland, where he was born. In his youth, he married Maeve Rourke and took a job with Interpol as an Inspector. While Cassidy was away on a long mission, his wife discovered she was pregnant and gave birth to their daughter, Theresa Cassidy. Not much later, Maeve died in an IRA bombing. With no means to contact Sean, his cousin Tom took care of Theresa. When Sean returned to learn of his wife's death, he was devastated. Before Tom could even tell him of the existence of his daughter, Sean lashed out at Tom with his sonic scream for not having taken better care of Maeve. While Sean flew away in anger, Tom fell into a chasm, breaking his leg as a result of the attack, which left him with a limp. Angrily, Tom swore to make Sean pay and vows to never tell him about his daughter, raising her himself instead.
Cassidy later left Interpol, and became a freelance detective. The villainous Changeling discovered him through the group Factor Three and invited him to join the organization. Cassidy was appalled upon learning Factor Three's goals and adamantly refused. However, Factor Three, with the Ogre, captured him and placed a headband containing explosives around his head to force him to obey them. Code-named after the banshee, a spirit from Irish mythology, Cassidy was forced to obey Factor Three's commands and perform various criminal missions for the organization. On a mission in New York City, Banshee encountered the mutant team of superheroes called the X-Men. Professor Charles Xavier was able to use his telepathy to disarm the headband and remove it, allowing Banshee to help the X-Men defeat Factor Three.
Years later, Xavier approaches Banshee to join his second group of X-Men and Banshee accepts. After the mission at Krakoa, Banshee remains with Charles Xavier and, along with Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Thunderbird, becomes a part of the first core team of "New X-Men." Banshee accompanies the team on many different missions and is present for several key moments in the X-Men's history, including the first appearance of the Phoenix and the team's first encounter with the Shi'ar. While with the X-Men, he meets the X-Men's ally, Dr. Moira MacTaggert and then falls in love with her. Alongside the X-Men, he first fights his cousin Black Tom Cassidy and the Juggernaut. However, Banshee loses the use of his powers when his vocal cords are severely damaged in battle with the terrorist Moses Magnum and leaves the X-Men to stay with Moira MacTaggart.
It's worth mentioning here that I recall an interview with the creators of the X-Men at the time. One of them, and I honestly don't recall which one, said that he was pushing to have Banshee removed from the team as early as possible. To him, Banshee didn't belong on the team because he didn't look freakish enough, or words to that effect. His sonic scream was his power, and he didn't have anything about his physical appearance that reallt distinguished him as a mutant. Personally, I'd think it would be an advantage to have at least ONE person on the team who could pass in public without getting stared at.
Banshee later learned of his daughter Theresa's existence. Theresa had developed sonic powers of her own, which she uses under the alias of Siryn. Siryn feels obliged to assist Black Tom with his crimes, as he had raised her. Siryn reforms after the pair were defeated by Spider- Woman and the X-Men, and she is reunited with her true father. Siryn goes on to become quite involved with various X-Teams, and for a time adopts a costume almost identical to one of her father's.
Banshee's powers gradually return as he heals, and he remained an ally of the X-Men and especially of Moira MacTaggert. Eventually, Sean heals fully and regains his sonic powers. After the near dissolution of the team following the events of Inferno, Banshee is instrumental in piecing the X-Men together and returns to the team for a second stint. Shortly after the team is formed into the "Blue" and "Gold" teams, Banshee's jaw is broken in battle, and he leaves the X-Men again to be with Moria McTaggart.
For a time, Banshee is the co-headmaster at the Massachusetts Academy where he teaches the young mutants of Generation X in the use of their powers alongside Emma Frost. Banshee and his students investigate odd going-ons and Cassidy Keep. Banshee also becomes part-guardian, for a time, to Franklin Richards, during the "Heroes Reborn" storyline. However, the Academy eventually closes its doors due to the students abandoning their teachers. During this time period, Dr. MacTaggert dies from injuries sustained in an explosion set up by Mystique.
Banshee, distraught and possibly suffering from a breakdown, founds the "X-Corps", a group of mutant adventurers who came into conflict with the X-Men over their questionable methodology and membership. Among the group are several former members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. It is revealed that Banshee was having the new Mastermind, the daughter of the deceased original Mastermind, manipulate the Brotherhood's members into having them work with him. However, it turns out that Mystique was posing as one of the members, Surge, and she is working with the new Mastermind behind Banshee's back. Mystique helps the brainwashed members revolt, two members of the X-Corps are killed and Mystique stabs Banshee through the throat before being stopped by the X-Men. Banshee survives the attack and recuperates in hospital.
In X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2, Banshee attempts to save an airplane full of innocents from the mystery villain of the series, who is piloting the X-Men's original jet, the Blackbird. Flying towards it, he attempts to damage the craft's trajectory with a sonic scream. However, his throat has not completely healed, affecting the strength of his scream so that it doesn't deflect the jet, which flies straight into Sean. In the next issue, Wolverine and Nightcrawler find Sean's lifeless body and confirm that he and all the civilians died in the crash.
In X-Factor #7, Cyclops delivers the news of Banshee's death to his daughter, Siryn. Siryn is given a video tape that Banshee made for his daughter in the event of his death. In the message, Banshee states that he felt he had done more good than bad in his life, and that he hoped St. Peter would allow him entrance into Heaven. He expresses the hope that he would there be re-united with Siryn's mother. Siryn refuses to believe that Banshee is really dead, citing all of the X-Men in the past who have been presumed dead but later returned. In his will, Sean gave his daughter the family castle--Cassidy Keep--as well as his pipe.
Personally, I wonder how long Banshee will stay gone this time. This hero has been much-maligned over the years. Rather decidedly in contrast to the "luck of the Irish", Banshee seems to have had a lot of trouble catching a decent break over his lengthy history.
Banshee is a mutant whose superhumanly powerful lungs, throat and vocal cords could produce a sonic scream for various effects, in concert with limited, reflexive psionic powers which directed his sonic vibrations. He could hover or fly at the speed of sound, and could carry at least one passenger. He could overwhelm listeners with deafening noise, stun them with tight-focus low-frequency sonic blasts (effective even against shielded ears by penetrating the skull via bone conduction), plunge them into a hypnotic trance, disorient them, nauseate them, or simply render them unconscious. Using sonic waves, he could rapidly vibrate himself or other masses at will. He could generate sonic blasts which struck with tremendous concussive force, liquefying or outright disintegrating targets at his highest levels of power. By radiating sound waves outward and reading the feedback, he could locate and analyze unseen objects in a sonar-like fashion. By modulating his scream's harmonics, he could confuse most scanning equipment. He could instinctively analyze, replicate, and block sonic waves or vibrations from other sources.
Banshee generated a psionic field which protected him from the detrimental effects of his sonic vibrations, though his sonic powers could still injure him when pushed beyond safe limits. For a while, his sonic powers were gone after having to use them up and down the harmonic scale to stop a weapon of Moses Magnum's. His physiology seemed fully vulnerable to conventional injury when his sonic powers were not engaged. Banshee had selective hearing, enabling him to focus upon, enhance, or totally block out any given sound in his environment; this shielded him from the deafening sound of his own screams, and made him a superhumanly acute eavesdropper in surveillance situations. Sean and his cousin Black Tom were immune to each other's natural mutant energy powers.
A gifted detective, veteran undercover operative and formidable unarmed combatant, Cassidy was an excellent marksman and a competent amateur machine-smith, well-versed in combat strategy & tactics and teamwork drills, from his training at Interpol.
Banshee also appeared every so often in the excellent X-Men animated series from the early 90's, although he was not a regular. He fought his cousin Black Tom and his ally Juggernaut, in a five-part episode that was a loose but effective adaptation of "The Phoenix Saga".
The figure of Banshee is a very capable Marvel Legends figure, but it's not without a few minor problems, in my opinion. I'll admit, the wide open mouth of the headsculpt is a little annoying, but it is to be expected, I suppose. In fairness, it's a good sculpt, and the mouth is well-detailed and surprisingly deep in the overall sculpt.
The neck of the figure, however, is where I really have an issue. It is rather excessively long. There's nothing to indicate that Banshee ever had a long neck, much as it might seem to work in concert with his powers. I think one of the factors here in why his neck looks so long, apart from the fact that it is, is that Banshee's costume is pretty much his traditional costume, but there's a bit of an omission.
Banshee's earliest and best known costume from his days with the X-Men featured a rather high and spread out collar in the central yellow section. That collar is not present here. There's no indication that it was ever designed into the figure, and might well have had to have been a separate part if it had been, but that's purely speculation. However, imagining this figure, with this costume design, with the high collar -- well, I think it would've looked a fair bit better. At least it would've minimized the look of the neck a bit.
Now, I don't want to sound like I'm condemning this figure. Neck notwithstanding, and getting used to the headsculpt, Banshee is a very impressive Marvel Legends figure. He's wearing his best known costume, as I said, which is described in WikiPedia as, "synthetic costuming designed to resist air friction, usually including underarm wings that helped him glide on air currents and his own sonic waves. The 'ribbons' on Banshee's costume aid him in his flight."
Indeed, for the most part, Banshee's uniform is a fairly conventional super-hero costume, with green and yellow being the dominant colors. You'd expect an Irishman to wear purple, maybe? The costume is mostly green, with a yellow V-shape at the chest, as well as yellow gloves and boots. But the most notable feature of the costume, and what sets it apart from a typical superhero suit, are the glider wings.
For the figure, these have been made out of black and yellow striped fabric, and Hasbro really did a good job with them. They are made from a flexible fabric, hemmed along all sides, and each one is attached to the figure via plastic pegs at the wrist, chest, and lower leg. They are flexible enough to not impede the articulation of the figure, and are of a good size for the overall visual look of Banshee.
Of course, the figure is superbly articulated, at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, double-jointed elbows, wrists, mid torso, waist, legs, upper leg pivot, double-jointed knees, ankles, and pivot points at the glove and boot tops. The headsculpt, really is an excellent likeness of the character. Banshee is not the easiest person to design. His look has changed in the comics rather considerably over the years, and in this relatively early form, he was generally drawn with very slightly exaggerated features, but nothing excessive. It can't have been that easy to duplicate this look, and get that mouth in as well, regardless of what I think of the look of it.
You know, I've long thought that Banshee deserved better than he got in the comics. He lost his powers more than once, took some questionable roads in his career, and ultimately ended up apparently dead. I've tended to think that if his life had done better, given that he didn't look especially mutant-like and given the distinctiveness of his power, and the fact that he really did have a nifty super-hero costume, he might've made a good member of the Avengers, or throughs ome other means broken through the X-Universe into the greater Marvel Universe.
Sadly, he never got the chance. Unless, someday, he returns and somebody gives him a better shot than he's had.
Meantime, however, at least we have the Marvel Legends figure of Banshee.
It's not perfect, but there have been precious few Banshee figures over
the years, and I am pleased that Hasbro chose this character as part
of their Marvel Legends line-up. If you're any sort of X-Fan with an
appreciation of characters that deserved a better break than they got,
then you'll certainly want to round up this figure. The MARVEL LEGENDS
BANSHEE figure definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!