Among the much more offbeat announcements Marvel has been making recently is the fact that Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat are taking over X-Men Legacy and focusing intently on Charles Xavier's son David Charles Haller, aka Legion. You may remember him as the kid with the severe personality disorder who went back in time and accidentally killed his father, kickstarting the Age of Apocalypse. He has a crazy, near limitless powerset and a fractured mind – so who better to write him than a guy who just finished an X-Club miniseries where Dr. Nemesis psychically bonded to a talking stafish?
"From a windswept rehabilitation camp for damaged psychics to the horrific sci-fi prison of Legion's own mind, readers will embark on a journey unlike anything they've ever experienced on an X-Men title, as Legion struggles with his tortured family legacy and bumps shoulders with characters that span the X-Men Universe," says Marvel EIC Axel Alonso. "'Yours ain’t a life where the guy with the biggest pecs wins the day,' Legion is told in issue #1. And truer words were never spoken."
Here are excerpts of what Spurrier had to say about what he's doing with Legion and why.
We’ve got the son of Professor Charles Xavier slicing, smashing and exploding his name into the history books of mutantkind. I’m kind of in love with that LEGACY tag, because in the run-up to the announcement so many of the readers speculating blindly on the Internets—we’ve all done it—have been saying “it can’t possibly be X-MEN LEGACY, that word doesn’t work as a title any more, it doesn’t make sense, it’s gotta be something else, oh God please let it be Stilt-Man Legacy, no, no, let it be Squirrel Girl Legacy, or Devil Dinosaur Legacy, or yadda yadda.” Actually, I would read the [expletive] out of all those titles, so ignore me.
Anyway, I kinda like the idea that rather than launching something new with a whole new X-adjective attached—Ebullient X-Men! Gibbous X-Men! Arousing X-Men!—we’ve made it our business to make the LEGACY tag relevant. This time it really is all about how mutantkind in general, the X-Men in particular, and the name “Xavier” specifically, will be regarded in the light of the dawning future.
As far as I know the idea of basing the series round David has been in the works since the plotting of Avengers Vs. X-Men. David’s story grows organically from those events. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s the tale that really needs to be told in the aftermath period. My brief was pretty simple: take a thoroughly screwed-up young character—who’s been handled so differently by so many narrative teams down the years that it’s tricky for anyone to say for sure exactly who he is or what his voice might be—and launch him into the Marvel Universe as a definitive, dynamic, tormented, likeable character cooler than an Inuit’s arse. “Show us who he is, Si. What he can do. What he wants to do but can’t yet. Think differently.”
It’s a pretty wonderful remit, when you think about it. Here’s a character almost everyone’s heard of but nobody feels familiar with—yet. So, who’s David? David is one of the most powerful beings alive on the planet, who has spent the majority of his life unable to trust his own brain.
This book isn’t going to work like the other X-books. It—like David—is the black sheep of the family. It’s tricky to define. It worms its way between the cracks. It’s not a team book, although we’re going to see a lot of team stuff along the way. It’s not a straight-out fight book, although a [lot] of stuff explodes all the time. It’s not a horror book, although we’re going to see a lot of horror vibes. David isn’t really one of the X-Men at all when we first meet him, but we’ll certainly be seeing a great deal of those guys throughout the tale.
For much of the time David doesn’t actively “belong” to any of the political or resource-structures we’re used to associating with mutantkind. He may have a “side” he prefers—he does—but it’d be stretching things to say he “belongs” to it. It’s easier to think of him as the Joker in the pack, or the Independent Candidate. The only side he belongs to it his own. None of the above, right? There may come a time when he isn’t the only one occupying that niche, but you can bet your bottom dollar he won’t be working with anyone on any terms beside his own.
Even if you take away all David’s “tangible” problems—I’ll come back to those in a minute—it would’ve been kinda a miracle if he’d turned-out super well-adjusted. This was a kid who’d been bumped around between parents, foster parents and guardians, then later he’s a young man whose father is the nearest thing his species has to a living saint. A father so devoted to his chosen cause that—from a child’s point of view—nothing seems able to compete for his attention or affection. How’s that going to make a son feel? Unloved? Judged? A disappointment? A guilty distraction? Does he want to follow in his father’s footsteps or rebel against that path totally? Make dad proud, or make dad pay? All these things are going to go crackling through David’s already complicated head at one time or another, and the choices he makes—the things he learns and the ways he grows along the way—are going to define which of the other X-characters—and wider Marvel Universe characters—become his allies or his enemies.
The multiple personality thing, and—yeah. Historically, that’s always been David’s “thing.” This guy has pretty much every conceivable power accessible to him, but each one is under the control of a separate dissociative personality, many of whom want nothing more than to take over control of the host. Different writers have handled that setup in very different ways, and that’s part of the problem of how best to approach writing David as a cool, proactive, interesting but empathetic character. Frankly, all too often in the past he’s been used as a walking, talking plot point: the Angry Young Liability, the Ticking Time Bomb, whatever. The real trick with this brand new start was to find a way to rationalize—and, yes, visualize—David’s mental condition, so it’s not just this Deus Ex Machina to be deployed whenever we need a problem or a solution. If we’ve done it right—and I think we have—it should provide just as much drama, conflict, action and explodo as the more classical “external” adventures our guy is off having at the same time.
It was important to us all from the outset that David’s problem be approached in such a way that it avoids all the pitfalls of that sort of thing. “Split personalities” risks being a bit of a daft concept at the best of times, but when you start having to invent “rules” for how the control mechanism works it gets super-wordy and gobbles up real estate on the page. So we’ve spent a long time coming up with something very visual which we can show rather than explain; something very simple but beautifully weird and full of all the same narrative stakes—Life and Death! Empathetic characters! Goals! Sex, Drugs, Rock’n’Roll!—as we’ll be getting in the “outside” world.
My aim is to infuse David’s “external” adventures with a dose of the classic Claremont-era vibe—mining all the accumulated fun and craziness of the X-verse as well as generating loads of new stuff—but then tangle, infuse and interweave it with some really bizarre, creepy and pants-on-head-insane next-level stuff.
Man, just reading an interview with Spurrier lets us know he's fun and likes thinking outside the norm. I absolutely loved that X-Club mini, and I was looking forward to whatever his next book would be. I was rooting for an X-Club ongoing, and I have to say that the idea of a Legion series would not particularly interest me at all if not for Spurrier's presence. But he's there. So I'm buying his first issue of X-Men Legacy regardless. Folks may be missing the notion that it used to pretty much be the adventures of Rogue, but she's on Uncanny Avengers now. That's a pretty high profile.