In the long history of the X-Men, the run on the title with Dave Cockrum and Chris Claremont is probably one of the most influential. Cockrum’s gorgeous art and Claremont’s soapy reimagining of the series led to an enormous hit and a title that would define superhero comics for years. Which doesn’t mean that the series wasn’t goofy as all hell, and in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’re going to revisit what happened with the X-Men met a bunch of leprechauns, which is something that actually happened.
First of all, we’re not making this up: In fact, this happened in the arc that first introduced Phoenix to the world, Uncanny X-Men #101-#103. The main plot of the issue follows the X-Men as they visit Cassidy Keep, the ancestral home of Irish stereotype/70’s fashion victim Banshee.
This being an X-Men title, it turns out the keep is held by Black Tom, a character the book pretends we’re supposed to know even though we’ve seen him in shadow precisely once two issues back. He’s buddies with the Juggernaut, which is good since his powers are lamer than his facial hair:
Anyway, it’s a fairly typical issue for Claremont: The X-Men are sent into a dungeon, and promptly get their asses kicked. The only one who survives is Nightcrawler, because he’s been spirited away by freaking leprechauns:
It turns out that Cassidy Keep, in addition to being straight out of a Gothic horror novel, is also home to a bunch of leprechaun families, because Ireland. It’s amazing there’s not a character featured named Paddy O’Furniture.
We just want to emphasize, the entire plot of this arc hinges on these leprechauns. Black Tom takes the keep because he captures the leprechauns, which essentially makes him a more effective version of Gargamel. There’s a panel of Juggernaut terrorizing them. And one even gets to be a bag of douche to Wolverine:
“Sure an’ we know yer full history, Logan, but why’n would we tell ye anythin’ yer desperately tryin’ ta remember? We’re right jerks, we leprechauns!” we’re guessing after this issue ended, Wolverine went through and skewered a few of these runts.
The battle ends with Black Tom chucked off the top of the castle and Juggernaut joining him, because Juggs doesn’t have a lot of friends. No, really. That’s his reasoning. Unsurprisingly, the X-Men get the hell away from Cassidy Keep, and we never hear about the leprechauns ever again. One assumes Cassidy Keep was dynamited, as that would be the only way to be sure.
Thus ends proof that you can be a great comic book writer, and commit to some really bad ideas. Or possibly proof that the Marvel offices in the ’70s allowed drinking on the job; we remain unsure.