Last time I said I’d see if NYCC 2020 was anything to write home about. As it turns out: No! Much like SDCC, this year’s New York Comic Con went virtual as a self-proclaimed “Metaverse.” The new NYCC emails were too busy. I thought SDCC had the better panels this year. Hel
lstrom premiered, & not a single damn was given. So instead of blogging last week, I just watched the delightful third season of Kipo & The Age Of Wonderbeasts! (Should I write a whole blog on that, or do you already know it’s great?)
So this week brings another custom of a mid-tier character. There’s finally a Marvel Legends of Juggernaut’s “hetero-life-mate!” (Once you get into fanfic, there’s an even bigger question mark over that dubious descriptor. Also consider Avalanche & Pyro.) Thanks to Deadpool 2 for finally raising Black Tom Cassidy’s profile sufficiently for Hasbro to take action!
Much like Batman & Storm, there’s great controversy over what color Black Tom’s classic costume ought to be. Some think his costume is purple with black shadows whereas others believe it’s black with purple highlights. I will die on the hill of the earlier camp. Storm’s costume from his era was black but only given white highlights, so why would colorists bother giving more vibrant highlights to a minor villain over her? The X-Men cartoon & 90’s trading cards back me up! Ironically it’s when colorization grew more advanced that the comics began definitely depicting him in boring black. Unlike Green Lantern & much like The Blue Raja, the color in his name isn’t meant to literally be his costume color. (Nobody ever complains about Jean Grey’s name being inaccurate.) It could be refer to him being the black sheep of Clan Cassidy, his signature blackthorn cane, his power being deadly like the Black Tom explosion, or just him being Black Irish.
Blackthorn is sacred to the Gaelic festival of Imbolc, which has become the Feast Day of St. Brigid. Its sloe berries are purplish, which may be the best explanation for his costume color. (Or perhaps it’s simply royal pretensions?) While these berries are distilled into sloe gin (with optional fizz), Tom is a rare Irish character who’s not an alcoholic stereotype. Tom isn’t sloe-eyed though, which could be a missed opportunity to stay on gimmick.
Many customizers had used Doctor Strange from his red & black period (available without or with cape) as Black Tom Cassidy. Some confused fans even thought Tom on the cover of new X-Force #1 was Dr. Strange! The official release is actually repainted Shatterstar with a new head, chest, belt, & cane. His pecs are surprisingly well striated. I appreciate how they painted his emblem so it looks reasonable regardless of how his torso is bent. It’s a good representation of the modern interpretation of his classic costume (they’re two distinct costumes to me), if you’re into that. I’m not wild about the large skull topping his cane, but it was inspired by his appearance in Deadpool volume 3. (That also featured Tom weaponizing a logging truck’s cargo!) Preferably the cane’s head would be smaller & the shaft longer. Perhaps I’ll whittle down the topper one day.
Compared to the highly involved Firefly, this quick repaint was ridiculously easy. I just painted royal purple over black. The nice thing a about painting over black plastic is that the shading automatically manifests. I did have to add black shading to the gloves & boots though. Shading flesh brought out some details in the face that previously looked subpar. The sides of his beard were filled in with impasto. Since he’s one of the elder mutants (relative to Marvel’s sliding time scale), I grayed his hair. I threw in some bonus chest hair too. His shillelagh’s shaft was painted glossy black since it should be blackthorn. (It’s colored tan in the comics, yet that’s the pigmentation I hypocritically ignore. Sometimes it’s drawn like a small stalagmite because research is hard.)
Tom needed an energy blast to spruce him up. The energy effect from Mercy looks good, but I don’t have any Overwatch toys. So I made my own to conceal that gauche skull. It was fashioned from hot glue using the same twist-tie I salvaged from Firefly’s flame as its armature. I didn’t want his bio-blast to just look like he’s a torchbearer, so I made it a bit swirly. Vertical wrist hinges would’ve allowed him to get into more natural poses, but I angled the blast to compensate.
His reused boots aren’t comic accurate, but they look much better than just painting them on. Speaking of which, why didn’t the Pyro that comes in a two-pack with Rogue at a 25% mark-up get them too? They look like a cowboy version of Wolverine’s iconic footwear, which is how I’d translate them into a movie costume.
Before secondary mutations were a thing, Tom gained the ability to manipulate vegetation from an experimental life-saving graft. He went from vine-fingered Two-Face to a demented Ent. (Amazing Spider-Man #437 oddly had Plantman claim he attacked Generation-X not Tom, because editorial coordination is for chumps. Plantman changed his name to Blackheath & began looking like a dryad to sow further confusion.) He reverted back to his original appearance (slightly youthened) with both powersets after M-Day. While that’s a more unique power among mutants than energy blasts, I’m glad Hasbro prioritized the non-Groot version.
Vegekinesis is fairly straightforward & versatile. Being able to emit energy blasts is a generic superpower, yet it becomes weirdly interesting when you can only fire them whilst touching wood. (It’s quite Freudian.) There is no biological reason those should be linked! Thomas Cassidy can vaporize you just by holding disposable chopsticks!
Black Tom Cassidy’s characterization fluctuates betwixt charming scoundrel & psychotic terrorist. (Oddly, he went really crazy when he stopped wearing purple.) He’s driven by intense jealously for his his cousin’s wife, daughter, & castle. (Cassidy Keep was infested with legitimutant Leprechauns who already knew Wolverine’s name was Logan.) Nobody gives Tom enough credit for raising Banshee’s child all by himself (just because he never told him about her). We haven’t really seen how Sean Cassidy’s death or resurrection affected him. He was a member of the Hellfire Club for a couple issues, yet sadly nothing came of it. Now he’s part of Krakoa’s X-Force. (Watch this space for more blogs criticizing the Dawn of X in the near future!)
This toy looks a bit like Jack Kesy. He was a good sport about Black Tom’s role being significantly cut just before Deadpool 2 began filming. Despite not getting to use his powers, he avoids being among the worst cinematic mutant adaptations. (That list could use some updating.) He’s not one of the best either, but let’s be positive. At least it kept his distinctive accent. His red chest tattoo evokes his chest logo in lieu of a costume. Tom getting shot by Cable even counts as a comics reference. True to Fox form, he never interacts with Juggernaut, Banshee, or Siryn. If they don’t give Kesy another go, maybe Marvel Studios can cast James Nesbitt, Timothy Dalton, Michael Sheen, Ian McShane, Gerard Butler, or Pierce Brosnan as its non squandered version?
Now that I’ve customized mine, Hasbro is sure to release a violet Black Tom repaint in a set with an improved Banshee & the first-ever Siryn. You’re welcome!