Terrorist. Criminal. Mercenary. The mutant Black Tom Cassidy is all of the above.
Can’t Win for Losing
Born a mutant, Thomas Cassidy is heir to his family’s fortune, including the estate of Cassidy Keep, a fortress-like castle in the sparsely populated coastal area of County Mayo. A charming Oxford educated ladies’ man, Tom gambles his inheritance on a throw of dice, losing to his younger mutant cousin, Sean, AKA Banshee.
The cousins subsequently vie for the love of Maeve Rourke, who dates both for months, seemingly torn between their affections. Ultimately, she chooses Sean as her escort for the university ball, but after he suffers injuries in a car accident en route, he asks Tom to accompany Maeve in his stead. Unaware of Sean’s accident, Maeve is confused by his absence until Tom tells her the truth. He realizes her heart belongs to Sean and gives up his pursuit, serving as best man at their wedding.
Having lost the love of his life, Tom turns to a life of crime, taking on the nom-de-guerre Black Tom. He initially masks his criminal activities under the guise of being a soldier of fortune and roams the world offering his services as a gun-for-hire while continuing to pursue his criminal endeavors. After aiding revolutionary forces in a third world country, Tom is captured and imprisoned. Here, he befriends fellow mercenary Cain Marko, AKA Juggernaut.
Black Tom Cassidy generates blasts of concussive force or heat by using wood as the focus for his power; typically, a wooden shillelagh (walking stick). Following genetic engineering, Cassidy can channel the energy he generates directly through the parts of his body that are grafted to a wood-like substance.
After his transformation into a plant-like being, Cassidy could drain the life force of organic beings thus allowing him to grow to immense size (and gain superhuman strength as a result) as well as to regenerate damaged or destroyed body parts with great speed.
He can also mentally control all plant life within his vicinity and can distribute his consciousness among plants he controlled. Post “M-Day,” Tom wields an energy baton stylized to look like a wooden shillelagh.
All’s Fair in Love and War
Tom falls for Maeve Rourke who his cousin Sean also seeks a romantic relationship with. Though Tom gives up his pursuit of Maeve after she chooses Sean, he becomes increasingly embittered and chooses a criminal path as a result. After Maeve and her newborn daughter with Sean perish in a bombing, Tom becomes aware that her child Theresa, who will grow up to become Siryn, survives. Keeping the news from Sean, he raises Theresa in secret.
A History of Crime
Meanwhile, Sean became an Interpol agent and was assigned to a top-secret mission that required him to stay out of contact with his family for a considerable time. As he left on his mission, Sean was unaware that Maeve was in her first month of pregnancy, and their daughter, Theresa, was born during his absence. While visiting relatives in Armagh, Northern Ireland, Maeve and Theresa were caught in a terrorist bombing. Maeve was killed, but the authorities could find no trace of Theresa and assumed she was also dead. Those who knew about Theresa sought to keep her existence from Sean to spare him further grief; however, Tom had been present at the scene of the explosion and secretly saved Theresa. When Sean returned and learned of Maeve’s death, he blamed Tom for not protecting her and lashed out with his mutant power, causing Tom to fall and break his leg. Bitter, Tom resolved to conceal the truth about Sean’s daughter and raised Theresa as his own.
om sent Theresa to boarding school at age 12 to shield her from his criminal activities. Three years later, Tom was captured in an undercover operation led by Sean and was jailed for five years. Subsequently, reunited with Marko, now the super-criminal Juggernaut, Tom suggested they form a criminal partnership. One of their earliest employers was the Shi’ar alien Eric the Red, who bade them destroy the X-Men, whom Sean had recently joined as Banshee. Tom’s hatred of his cousin and the Juggernaut’s longstanding feud with the X-Men’s founder, his stepbrother Charles Xavier, AKA Professor X, spurred them to accept the job. The pair ambushed the X-Men at Cassidy Keep, which Sean had recently inherited, but were defeated with the aid of the Keep’s resident leprechauns.
When Theresa’s mutant nature manifested during adolescence, Tom trained her to aid him in his criminal activities as the costumed Siryn, clashing with the X-Men and Jessica Drew, AKA Spider-Woman. However, Theresa’s heart was never in a life of crime, and while briefly in the custody of legal authorities, Tom exonerated her and wrote a letter to Sean explaining who she was, after which father and daughter were joyfully reunited. Subsequently, Tom sought to capture the psychic Cassandra Webb, AKA Madame Web, to aid in his criminal endeavors. He sent Juggernaut to capture her, but Juggernaut was defeated by Spider-Man after the web-slinger trapped him in a 40-foot-deep foundation of wet cement.
Later, when his partner-in-crime presented him with the Ruby of Cyttorak as a gift, Tom gained half the Juggernaut’s power. This brought them into conflict with Spider-Man and the X-Men, but Tom ultimately lost this newfound power and they escaped. Then, Tom struck a deal with businesswoman Arianna Jankos, who sought help in opposing a hostile takeover of her company in exchange for locating a dimensionally displaced Juggernaut. After the Juggernaut was returned, the pair interrupted the takeover meeting and took all present as hostages, including millionaire mutants Gideon and Roberto da Costa, AKA Sunspot.
The mutant strike team X-Force intervened, but Tom set off explosives in the building. X-Force’s leader, Cable, subsequently shot Tom, causing him to fall. However, he was saved by Wade Wilson, AKA Deadpool, whose employer, arms dealer Tolliver, had Tom taken to a genetic engineering research facility outside Angoulême, France where the injured portions of Tom’s body were grafted with an experimental wood-like substance. The substance acted like a genetic virus that hindered his entire cellular structure, transforming an increased amount of his body. To help save Tom’s life, Juggernaut sought out Genetech, the company that pioneered the grafting process. To avoid Juggernaut’s usual mass destruction, the hero Eric Masterson, AKA Thunderstrike, got Juggernaut the information he required.
After the Juggernaut forced his release from the research facility, Tom rejoined his old partner-in-crime on the hunt for Tolliver’s will, bringing them into conflict with Deadpool. Soon after, Juggernaut agreed to turn Tom over to the authorities in exchange for Tom receiving treatment to cure his condition. Learning of his cousin’s state, Sean arranged for geneticist Dr. Emrys Killebrew to treat him in prison. Freed by the Juggernaut, Tom captured Killebrew and learned that samples of Deadpool’s regenerating cells could cure him. Sending soldiers to obtain such a sample, Tom was caught unawares when Banshee and Siryn aided Deadpool against them. Still, one of the soldiers managed to return with Deadpool’s left hand, and, after amputating his own, Tom had Killebrew replace it with Deadpool’s. The cure initially worked; however, the new cells began taking over Tom’s entire body, endangering his life once more. After a confrontation with Deadpool, Banshee and Siryn, Juggernaut forced Killebrew to stabilize Tom’s condition, after which Banshee flew him to the hospital. The virus soon began spreading once more, finally mutating Tom’s entire body into a plant-like state with vast new powers. Apparently, the virus had been engineered from spores of the sentient island creature Krakoa, whose residual psyche subsequently compelled Tom to capture most of Banshee’s students in Generation X and imprison them underwater in an organic biotransport at Krakoa’s original location. In the ensuing clash, Tom was sliced apart by the razor-sharp claws of Banshee’s student Monet St. Croix, AKA Penance (later M). He survived, and after briefly asserting control of the virus to appear human once more, he sought the X-Men’s help twice: first to save Juggernaut’s life after his power was stolen by the Cult of Chejo-Do, and again to prevent Juggernaut from unwittingly destroying another dimension.
Tom next menaced Banshee and Generation X anew alongside Juggernaut and Mondo. Following a failed assault on the X-Man Scott Summers, AKA Cyclops, at the behest of the anti-mutant ex-soldier Ulysses, Tom succumbed to the virus once more and transformed back into a plant-like creature. Returning to Cassidy Keep, Tom captured the castle’s inhabitants and began draining their life force. Hoping to help his friend, Juggernaut contacted the X-Men for assistance, but Tom captured them as well. With the help of their newest member, the pheromone-generating Stacy X, the X-Men freed themselves and the Juggernaut, and together they defeated Tom, who apparently drowned. Tom once again survived and was later recruited by Max Eisenhardt, AKA Magneto’s former Acolyte Bennet du Paris, AKA Exodus, into a new incarnation of the Brotherhood of Mutants.
Planning an assault on the Xavier Institute headquarters of the X-Men, the Brotherhood believed they had an ally in the Juggernaut, then an X-Man, whom Tom believed he had convinced to join the X-Men to betray them. However, when Tom brutally slew Juggernaut’s friend, young student Sammy Pare, the Juggernaut lashed out at Tom, revealing his true colors. Seemingly unstoppable, Tom rampaged through the Institute until the X-Man Xorn formed a black hole that swallowed up the Brotherhood, along with Juggernaut and Talia Wagner, AKA Nocturne. Arriving in the Mojoverse, Tom and the Brotherhood traded Juggernaut and Nocturne to its ruler, Mojo, in exchange for cash and prizes. Eventually returning to Earth, Tom was among those mutants depowered by Wanda Maximoff, AKA Scarlet Witch, on “M-Day.” Allying himself with clandestine British organization Black Air, Tom clashed with Excalibur, including their member Juggernaut who ultimately convinced Tom to surrender.
Tom eventually felt remorse over the death of Sammy while imprisoned and came to believe that his most recent mutation negatively impacted his mind. He later encountered Deadpool and in a fight against him, was able to access his plant-manipulation powers with a shillelagh.
After Professor X, Magneto, and Moira MacTaggert established the mutant-island and nation-state of Krakoa, Black Tom joined them through a gateway, and instantly felt the connection with the sentient Krakoa. Invited, like all other criminal mutants to begin anew for the prosperity of all mutantkind, he started over and took a position in security on the island. With the synergistic connection to Krakoa, his powers became enhanced, and he defended the island with them against incursions.