With the bulk of Marvel NOW! relaunch books is on the horizon for November, and Marvel Comics kicks off the celebration on a special press conference call for "X-Men Legacy" with oncoming writer Si Spurrier and series editor Daniel Ketchum. Spurrier, along with artist Tan Eng Huat, relaunch the series next month with a heavy focus on Professor Xavier's incredibly powerful son, Legion, and explore the aftereffects of Xavier's death on one of the world's most powerful mutants.
"It's kind of the black sheep of the X-Men family," said Spurrier, emphasizing the focus on David Haller (AKA Legion) and following him in his quest to find his place in the world now that his father is dead. "Is he going to step up and try to fill his father's shoes? Is he going to go in the completely opposite direction? At the same time, how are the X-Men going to feel about this?"
Spurrier said that Legion was a "curious choice" for a main character, saying he had been used more as a plot point than a central character. "It was wonderful to give him a proper voice for the first time and really get into the nitty-gritty about what this guy is all about. I kind of surprised myself at how fully formed he was when he was on the page. This is a guy with a lot of neuroses, but is a good kid. … This is a man who almost entirely defines himself by his father, who is a great, great man." The writer said that Legion's character and "Legacy" will help deal with Legion's historically tumultuous relationship with his father. Spurrier has also given Legion a slight Scottish accent in the book.
In terms of supporting cast, there will be a number of other X-Men that make an appearance. "I'm a big fan of the character Chamber, so he's destined to appear a bit in the story, but we get them all rocking up," said Spurrier, who further noted Wolverine, Storm, Frenzy and Blindfold would all play a role as it moves forward.
"X-Men Legacy" will deal with a threat that Spurrier was only able to hint at, saying Legion is historically one of the most powerful mutants in the universe, but deals with a number of mental problems -- namely, dissociative identity disorder. "We wanted to handle it in a way that's completely not hokey," he said. "We wanted on one hand to have David out in the world … facing off against foes, old and new, world-shaking threats, but we also wanted to tell the story in an internal sense as well." Spurrier noted there will be threats "on every level of David's story and they will be intertwined in very interesting ways."
The conversation moved to Spurrier's collaboration with artist Tan Eng Huat, who the writer said is "very good at making something iconic without making it cartoony. It's very individual, it's very stylish. His storytelling is second to none, his design is second to none."
The character of Legion has largely existed, so far, to kick off X-Men events and has served as a plot point for many story arcs. Spurrier said he hoped to address this and move away from it at the same time in his "Legacy" run.
"Obviously, we want to move away from the point that he just exists to move the story, but we're not going to be ignoring that stuff," Spurrier said. "He's going to be very aware that he caused all these strange occurrences in the past. His arc is kind of redemptive. The book couldn't be better named. X-Men Legacy is exactly what he is. It's very much in the forefront of everybody's mind that he has been involved in some weird stuff in the past. He and the X-Men want to make sure he's not a threat anymore."
"I think in terms of Legion as a character, he kind of existed as a plot point, but what's really fun with this series is we can make him a central character, put him in the spotlight," said Ketchum. "Even though he has ties to the rest of the mutant universe … it's amazing how blank a slate he is. We kind of get to see the X-Men universe through fresh eyes." Ketchum referenced doing something with older characters, like Ogun. "He occupies a space where he can comment on the rest of the X-Men because he's so far removed."
In the first issue, Spurrier says Legion has found a fix, a holding pattern, but everything begins with the trigger mechanism -- the death of Charles Xavier. "He's going to have to jump through some hoops," said Spurrier. "At different times, he's able to exert different amounts of control over the voices in his mind. … I think it's done in a way that follows the rules that we establish in the first episode. At no point does it feel like that deus ex machine thing. It's done in a way that's explainable and follows the twists and turns of his external story as well as his internal story."
Spurrier said the book isn't out-and-out funny like his work on Dr. Nemesis, but the writer noted Legion has a "good vein of black humor in him."
"He's a damaged kid, but he's got that great thing of being able to crack jokes through the grimness and the misery and the pain," said Spurrier. "There's some stuff that made me giggle, which is always a good sign."
The writer stated he didn't feel restricted by the massive amount of powers housed in Legion's psyche, saying there are "some incredible opportunities for invention" and that it was difficult to speak more about it without spoiling. He did note, however, that the internal world of Legion would be separate from the physical side of the story. "I think it's been done in a way that makes everything elegant and makes everything completely open to explosion and insanity and chaos."
Ketchum mentioned the first two issues of "X-Men Legacy" would double-ship and help establish who Legion is and how his powers work.
Spurrier said he hopes Legions view will be both unique (in his position as Professor X's son) and accessible from a broad sense of the new status quo following "AvX." "How does he feel about his father? More than that, it's about how he responds to his father's legacy. At this point, I think I know which way broadly he will go," he said. "I think we would all agree that Xavier's dream was worth dreaming. … If David does it right, the questions he's asking of himself and his father are also questions he'll be presenting the rest of the Marvel Universe."
The writer hasn't yet crafted any scenes with Cyclops yet, but that Legion will encounter a number of other X-Men who aren't really against him, but are in opposition of him.
"I don't think it's any great surprise to them that in the opening stage of the first arc, they set themselves -- if not quite against him -- then certainly it's against him being a lone wolf," said Spurrier. "That's not quite how David wants to work. In the beginning, they are essentially on opposite sides of the same team. … Going forward from what you will therefore extrapolate is an inevitable encounter. We're going to see some very exciting and very unexpected ways of David interacting with members of the X-Men. It's not a case of all-in or all-out. It's a case of some of them thinking one thing, some of them thinking another."
In terms of Legion's power spectrum and powers he favors, Spurrier stated Tan Eng Huat designed something that the writer became "totally invested in."
"Without spoiling too much, throughout all his trials and tribulations, as his powers go up and down for various reasons, David has the kind of go-to power, which I'm not going to spoil for you," he said. "There is a thing which is kind of his safe mode, if you like, and this is all explained in episode three."
"I really want a toy of that thing that Tan designed," teased Ketchum.
From a design sense, Spurrier said he loved the look of Legion.
"The hair's awesome. The hair looks great," said Spurrier. "We've fiddled with his look in other ways, but the hair stays. We might fiddle with the hair a little bit going down the line, but I think Tan just responded to the fact of somebody with a giant MC Hammer haircut."
Spurrier said there are very deliberate and very clear parallels to the initial launch of "X-Men Legacy" when Charles Xavier went around the world to re-experience his old memories.
"There's a little of that in there. It is impossible to think of a better name for a comic that does what I'm doing for David. The fact that it was already out there with that title doing amazing things is awesome, but I feel like this is the one where we say, 'What is it?' It's about the X-Men's legacy. It's about how David, the X-Men and all of mutant kind set themselves to confront the future."
Ketchum spoke about his approach to editorial and his creation of a flavor and direction. "Whenever I'm rolling out a book, that's what I want to hit in my first issue," he said. "'X-Men Legacy' has this whole sci-fi/horror thing and I'm totally leaning into that." He further stated that the book wouldn't have been able to capture the feeling it does without distancing it from the rest of the X-Men.
Viscardi noted that every book in Marvel NOW! has a distinct vision, a distinct story to tell. "'Legacy' is a perfect example of that."
Spurrier said that when writing Chamber, there will be plenty of southern British colloquialisms.
"Absolutely, yes, but naturally they're hidden behind gobbledygook symbols," he said.
Ketchum and Viscardi joked AR should have a translation feature for any obscure British word.
With that, the call wrapped. "X-Men Legacy" #1 by Si Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat hits stores November 14.