How Green Are My Graphics

On St. Patrick’s Day, so they say, everybody’s Irish. A large number of folks back in Wildwood, NJ, were at least partly Irish year-round. I went to synagogue with kids named MacDonald.

Shamrock, clad in green, tossing an explosive away from a group of children
Irish hero Shamrock’s introductory panel in Contest of Champions #1 © 1982 Marvel. Plot: Mark Gruenwald, Bill Mantlo, Steven Grant. Script: Mantlo. Pencils: John Romita Jr. Inks: Pablo
Marcos & Bob Layton. Colors: Andy Yanchus & Pat DeFalco. Letters: Joe Rosen.

At one corner of Pacific & Lincoln was Shamrock Café, only a café in the sense that it was a pub that served coffee with Irish whiskey. Shamrock was owned by a family alongside whose two youngest daughters, twins, I walked to and from Crest Memorial in kindergarten and first grade. Their house was on the way to mine, and often I’d linger for milk, cookies, and maybe an episode of Ultraman.

The Dragon House, the best Chinese restaurant in town — I can’t think of any others, actually, but it would still be my favorite — was across Lincoln from the Shamrock. My grandparents were friendly with the owners, who’d bring my sister and me extra paper placemats to turn over for drawing upon. Across Pacific (the main drag) was one of my spinner-rack stops.

Jack O'Lantern explaining to Green Lantern about his magic light, which is round with a large handle and like his mask purple with yellow eyes
Green Lantern with Irish hero Jack O’ Lantern from the latter’s debut in Super Friends #8
© 1977 DC Comics. Script: E. Nelson Bridwell. Pencils: Ramona Fradon. Inks: Bob
Smith. Colors: Liz Berube. Letters: Clem Robins. [enlarge]

Plenty of Irish characters have populated comic books, including a superhero named Shamrock, who first popped up amidst a bunch of never-before-seen international do-gooders in Marvel’s Contest of Champions limited series, and... well, a Web search turns up a few more appearances, but haven’t read ’em. DC’s main Irish superhero, Jack O’ Lantern, was introduced in the pages of Super Friends and remained a bench player before returning with The Global Guardians in Justice League International. Marvel’s X-Men brought us Banshee — real name: Sean Cassidy, long before his namesake popped up on The Hardy Boys — and incorporated him into the melting-pot version of the mutant group that became a creative and financial sensation. We could be here quite a while if we delved into Irish-American comic-book characters, I expect.

Banshee, clad in green and yellow with a pipe, talking with Professor X, wearing a suit of darker green
Professor X convincing Irish hero Banshee to remain with his new recruits in X-Men #94 ©
1975 Marvel. Plot: Len Wein. Script: Chris Claremont. Pencils: Dave Cockrum. Inks:
Bob McLeod. Colors: Phil Rachelson. Letters: Tom Orzechowski. [enlarge]

Many of us wear green for St. Paddy’s, just as we wear red on Valentine’s Day, the colors of our flag on Independence Day, and light taupe on Rusty Drainpipe Water Day. Hulk obvious, but there are plenty more comic-book characters who sport, or are, green.

Green Lantern, natcherly, which in fact is the moniker of a whole corps of interstellar protectors. Green Arrow. The obscure Green Lama. The Skrulls, featured in Marvel’s recent Secret Invasion crossover. Emerald Empress, foe of the Legion of Super-Heroes. LSH wannabe Chlorophyll Kid. Beast Boy, a.k.a. Changeling. Rubberduck of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew. Mole Man, antagonist in The Fantastic Four’s debut. Spider-Man’s arch-enemy The Green Goblin. A pair of Flash’s rogues’ gallery called The Weather Wizard and The Pied Piper. Superman villains Brainiac and The Kryptonite Kid. The Dragon over at Image, to make a relatively newer pick. The Martian Manhunter. The Impossible Man, zany alien mischief-maker. Ambush Bug, zany metafictional mischief-maker. Bruce Banner’s cousin, Jennifer Walters, alias the often metafictional She-Hulk. The Green Team, stars of an issue of the tryout series First Issue Special. One amongst Jack O’Lantern’s fellow international crimefighters from Super Friends, The Green Fury, who became The Green Flame, who became Fire, losing more of her dignity with each revision.

That’s off the top of my head. If you’re green with envy that your humble blogger is able to pull all those names out of his foliage and not even furrow his brow, just remember that we all have our areas of expertise. It’s easy to forget that not everybody has a lifetime’s catalog of comic-book culture swimming around in their noggin, and it can leave me a bit... jaded.

Images from online digital editions. Shamrock, Banshee, Professor X, Cyclops, and
TM/® Marvel Characters. Green Lantern and Jack O’ Lantern TM/® DC Comics.

Related: Off Color The Green, Green Ross Number Ones

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