Banshee (Sean Cassidy) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, commonly in association with the X-Men. Created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Werner Roth, the character first appeared in X-Men #28 (January 1967).
An Irish mutant, Banshee possesses a “sonic scream”, capable of harming enemies’ auditory systems and causing physical vibrations. He is named after the banshee, a legendary ghost from Irish mythology, said to possess a powerful cry.
A former Interpol agent and NYPD police officer, Banshee was always a decade older than most of the X-Men and had only a relatively short tenure as a full-time X-Man. He was a mentor of the 1990s-era junior team Generation X. Caleb Landry Jones played the role of Banshee in 2011’s X-Men: First Class.
Powers and abilities
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, though Sean’s immunity did not extend to the new powers Tom later developed via artificial mutations.
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. An effective educator, organizer, and lobbyist, he was also an avid American country music aficionado and skillful amateur piano player. As Cassidy, he wielded conventional firearms, sometimes loaded with explosive “micro-bombs.” As Banshee, he wore 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 (a visual trademark of the character) aid him in his flight.