As Marvel NOW! continues its sweep of the X-Men universe, no title goes further against the grain than "X-Men Legacy." Previously centering on Rogue and her personal journey of self-discovery, writer Si Spurrier and artist Tan Eng Huat have relaunched the title with a new focus on Legion, the incredibly powerful and mentally unbalanced son of the late Charles Xavier, as he tries to find his place in a post-"Avengers Vs. X-Men" world and determine the legacy of his father.
In this week's X-POSITION, Si Spurrier answered your questions about the new direction of "X-Men Legacy," the significance of Legion to the Marvel Universe, how the X-Men will react to his escapades and keeping track of Legion's numerous -- and insanely powerful -- multiple personalities during the course of the story.
To start things off, Marcus wants to know about Legion's many powers and personalities -- and the challenge of taking them on as a writer.
1) Legion seems like a tough character to write about given the multiple personalities in his mind. Over the course of this series will any of them "assist" Legion in his quest?
Hi Marcus -- good question. He can be a tough character to write, yeah... but I tend to think he's got way more going for him in terms of depth, soulfulness, complexity and interest than a lot of other superdupers, so I'm sticking with ole' pointy-hair for the foreseeable future. He's also got a knack for taking over and writing his own dialogue sometimes, which is something only the strongest characters do.
It's difficult to say that any of his personalities are going to be "assisting" him in the near future -- he'll definitely be making use of them, but they're generally not terribly happy about it. But as things move forward we're going to see a lot of boundaries moving and a lot of assumptions being challenged. Amongst which, yes indeed, will be the Nature Of The Personalities. I can say no more.
2) Given recent events and how they both have great importance in the Marvel Universe as the son of Xavier and the daughter of Magneto and how they both change the Marvel Universe with their powers, will Legion encounter the Scarlet Witch on his journey?
No specific plans at present, but David's journey is going to take him to all sorts of strange corners of the Marvel Universe, so never say never.
3) Should Scott Summers be a tad worried about Legion being on the loose?
I think the whole world should be a tad worried, to be honest. David's by no means evil -- quite the opposite -- in fact, I tend to think he's one of the most proactively "good" characters in the Marvel canon, who chooses to try and do the right thing despite all the shit he's had to deal with) -- but yeah, take one look at his track record and you'll understand why the X-Men are iffy about letting him wander the planet unsupervised...
As for Cyclops... Seriously, that's a really good question, and one we'll be broaching soon. For now let's just say that when you're trying to do something as different and fresh as this new iteration of "X-Men Legacy" it pays dividends to spend a little time letting readers get familiar with the vibe (even if the vibe happens to be "expect the brain-snappingly unexpected," bwahaha) before you go face-kicking the rest of the Universe too hard. So... bear with us, and wait and see.
One thing I will say, though, and this is either a future-tease or a massive red herring, depending on how evil I'm feeling today: by the time David's journey has brought him into contact with Cyclops, what makes you so certain they'll regard each other as enemies?
4) When and if he hears about him, how would Captain America respond to Legion, given his power level is similar to the Scarlet Witch, who destroyed the Avengers and later changed the Marvel Universe?
As I touched upon above, really. If and when Cap hears about a sarcastic omega-level ubermutant with mental fragility issues, two hundred hostile personalities and a significantly less hokey costume than his own, you'd expect him to be somewhat put out. Whether he'll be able to actually find David, and quite what he expects to do about it if/when he does, are things we'll have to speculate about for a little while to come.
Dudebro McTypo has a query more about Legion's previous appearance in "Age of X." Hey Si, Dudebro McTypo here want to say awesome job on issue 1! Got a quick couple of questions for you.
1) In Mike Carey's "Age of X" storyline, we saw that in this "reality" that Legion actually led a squad of Mutants called "The Force Warriors" (Psylocke, Rachel Grey, Hellion and Uniscone) into battle/rebuilding the walls of Fortress X. I was curious to see if you had any plans of having Legion interacting with these characters down the road?
Hey Dudebro. That's an old Viking family-name, right? I used to go out with a girl called Helgasdottir McLolcatz. She smelled like mildew and kept calling me a dissociative pathological liar, the little weirdo.
Big fan of the "Age of X" storyline, here (in fact I had some fun at the Avengers' expense in the "Age of X: Universe" spin-off -- worth tracking down, if only to see what happens when Iron Man dies inside his armor and the armor doesn't notice). The Force Warriors were a great idea, created (without giving too much away about the twist at the heart of "AoX") as a means for David to finally feel part of something. That's the part of his psyche that interests me. So whilst there are no immediate plans for the Force Warriors to reform, the quest they represented -- i.e. David's need for focus -- is front-and-center of the all-new "Legacy" arc.
And don't fret, David's going to be recurrently running into a lot of his fellow mutants -- X-hero and X-bastard alike -- along the way.
2) How hard is it managing a character who has a ridiculous amount of powers and not turn him into a Deus ex Machina?
Easier than I expected.
I mean, it's something I've said elsewhere: all too often David really has just been used as a convenient plot device. "We need a big threat!" "We need a ticking time-bomb!" "We need a mutant who gouges holes in the galaxy's alabaster face every time he sneezes!" -- which is all well and good, but misses an amazing opportunity to get inside the head of such a remarkable, tragic, heroic character.
Once we'd taken the decision to do just that, my task was to find a way of making David's unique properties -- i.e. the very things which have previously cast him as such a convenient plot device -- into exciting, understandable, atmospheric character-traits. "He's got a split personality" could so easily be hokey or daft, so I spent a long time bleeding from the forehead coming up with a way to rationalize it and give it a set of rules, so readers never feel as though they're being cheated. "There's no way David can possibly escape from this alive -- except ping!, he's got a personality which can do precisely that!" Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. None of that. We had to make it difficult for the poor guy.
The "Qortex Complex" was the solution. A way of making his inner self just as much a part of his story -- his struggle -- as his external adventures. Unlike almost any other superhero, David's character arc isn't about being stronger, better, faster, punching-er -- his arc's about control, limitation, focus. His story is a true parable of adolescence: inwardly and externally he's trying to find himself, to define himself.
Anyway, I'm waffling. And getting all wanky and subtextual. To answer your question, by making things as difficult as I can for poor old David, he simply doesn't get the opportunity to become a Deus ex Machina in the first place. He has to be a lot smarter, a lot luckier, and a lot tougher than that. The next question comes from Renaldo, who asks about the elephant in the room following "AvX" -- the death of Charles Xavier. 1) First off, I think it's safe to say the lot of us are wandering how fragile will Legion's state of mind be given what happened to Charles in "AvX?"
Okay, so... The way that David feels about his father -- especially now that Charlie's popped his clogs -- is obviously going to be a fairly major plot-thread. It's not quite the biggest one, but it does tie in to almost everything else going on.
What's fascinating is that it's not nearly as clear-cut as you might think. Frankly even I hadn't entirely worked out how David's attitude to his father's legacy was going to evolve as the first episodes progressed. On the surface it seems there are basically two ways he could go: either he wholeheartedly embraces his father as a saint, or he rebels and goes in the other direction. He's got more than enough motive for either. On the one hand the Xavier Dream is plainly a worthy cause; on the other he's perfectly entitled to be sore about a father who was absent most of his life and -- even when he was around -- frequently put his Cause before his family.
But, oh-ho-ho, hold on a minute. It turns out there's a lot more going on than that. This is a world of instinct, grudge, honor, idealism and loss. Emotions are never simple. Even if David does go one of those two ways, what does he do next? How does he give himself focus? How do the other mutants of the world feel about it...? And, hahaha, as it turns out, there is a third way…
All of which is an elaborate and overlong tease to reassure you that, yes, David is heading toward a point where he can say, "This is who I am, this is how I fit into the Marvel Universe, and this is what I'm going to do next." That position will inevitably keep evolving, but that's sort of the role of the first arc -- to get his feet onto that path.
So the short answer to your question, how fragile will Legion's mind be: Very. But -- he thinks -- it's getting stronger all the time.
2) Legion has been a cult-fave for some time now, and with such a history, he's been called dangerous, unstable and we've seen him slaughter gods -- so I ask, how hard has it been writing such a checkered character?
Very! Suspect I've gone and answered this above already, so let me add: I believe "challenging" truly can equate to "enormously satisfying". And I reckon that's true for readers as much as us keyboard-monkeys.
"X-Men Legacy" is like nothing else on the superhero shelves right now, and that's something the fans have embraced in a really amazing way. We knew from the outset the change in tone was going to be a challenge, especially for people whose tastes begin and end with "Superhero Team Does Superhero Stuff."
For me -- and there's a bit of a tangential rant coming here, forgive me -- I sometimes worry at the gradual loss of density in mainstream comics. We're getting to the point now that a lot of spandex books take just five minutes to read cover to cover, and that's considered Right And Proper, and god forbid any material that warrants a reread. Oh, there's nothing wrong with that per se -- a lot of those comics are bloody great -- but I'm ironclad certain there's room in the stable for something stranger, denser and darker. Hence, "X-Men Legacy." I haven't even been particularly subtle about this stuff either. There's a bit near the start of Episode 1 where Merzah the Mystic tells our troubled young hero what to expect. "Forget the old ways... yours ain't a life where the £&%$er with the biggest pecs wins the day, not anymore... If you're ready to think for yourself -- to stick with it -- there's no end to the wonders we'll achieve," etc., etc. That's not just some cutesy narrative color there, that's a bloody manifesto -- for me, for David, and for the readers.
So, yeah, it's mind-blowingly gratifying how many people -- longterm "Legacy" readers and non-X-readers alike -- have taken it aboard, opened their minds, and relaxed into the weirdness.
It will be a hell of ride. It will require you to think a little bit. And it will be awesome... which isn't really an answer to the question you asked. I'm a bit contrary like that.
3) Will a lot of fallout from "AvX" and "Schism" overlap into this title?
Increasingly so, yeah.
As you will by now have gathered, David's absolutely at the centre of the story. To begin with he's going to be pretty preoccupied with himself (and given who/what he is, that's kinda forgivable). As he begins to get his shit together -- or at least to think he's getting his shit together -- the ripples of past events in the wider Universe are going to start intersecting with his journey.
4) We saw Cap and the Avengers fear and intrude on Hope in "AvX," but Legion's reality-altering ability is just as dangerous. Why won't Rogers and Logan approach this similarly? He's just as dangerous as Wanda in "House of M" and Hope in "AvX"...
You assume Cap and the Avengers aren't going to approach this similarly? Heh.
Sorry, sorry, I'm teasing. If/when David bumps into the Earth's Mightiest Heroes (and I'm not allowed to say much more about that, at this stage) things may well have evolved beyond present conditions. You're right in thinking David is as dangerous as Wanda, but the nature of his condition -- the particulars of his instability -- are very different.
Frankly, David Haller's the best candidate in all the world for solving the problem of David Haller. The question is whether he can do so alone.
5) Would you ever scribe a battle between Franklin Richards and Legion?
Would I? Yes!
Have I? Not yet!
6) How do you plan on getting this title to stand out amid the other Bendis X-titles?
By... uh... by not being Bendis?
Seriously, I'm mentally approaching the book as the Black Sheep of the X family. It plays by different rules, it has different preoccupations, it follows no existing formula. We'll be meeting recognizable people and places, we'll be introducing recurring elements and recurring characters -- allies and enemies alike -- but, truly and genuinely, this is the book where anything can happen.
Familiar but unique, that's on the wall above my desk. Although -- worth admitting -- it's been crossed-out with a new note scribbled underneath: Give 'em what they think they want then show 'em how wrong they are.
And if all else fails -- the new note I may add to the wall -- use a character with a gravity-defying haircut. Then the "standing out" part takes care of itself.
Phil, a fan of your mini centering around the X-Club wants to know if you've got more plans for those characters in "Legacy." Hi Si, I was a big fan of your "X-Club" series and was just wondering if you were planning on using Danger & Jeffries in "X-Men Legacy" at all, seeing as no-one else has really followed on their storyline since?
Hey Phil -- thanks for the kind words about "X-Club." Man, I was proud of that book.
It's something I'd like to revisit, definitely. I have a huge soft-spot for all the characters in that book, and I feel like Jeffries deserves his happy ending more than most. And -- I won't lie -- I live for the day I get my mitts back on Doctor Nemesis. But the Marvel U is a huge and ever-changing place, and right at this moment those pieces aren't arranged on the chessboard in quite the right way. But the second they are -- the very second -- I'm there.
Fortunately David's curious journey more than makes-up for the lack of technosexual, monomaniacal, starfish-based emofarting in my life. Believe it or not "Legacy's" more than fed my addiction to Mad Ideas since I finished "X-Club."
Folks have asked a lot so far about Legion's father, but Patrick has a question about his mother, Gabrielle Haller. Loved your first issue of Legacy and it brought me back to my favorite rendition of David Haller circa "Legion Quest." Since Legion is such a powerful mutant, can we expect him to cross paths with other omega-level psonics such as Nate Grey, Proteus or Stryfe? And will David's mother Gabrielle Haller to show up at some point?
Hey Patrick. No firm plans for the three psykers you mentioned, but they're all definitely on the nebulous list of Things-Worth-Exploring as we press forward. As for David's mother -- watch this space. [enigmatic smirk]
To wrap things up, cora reef wants to know about some specific personalities you're hoping to bring to the forefront during your run. - What's been your favorite personality of Legion's to write so far? What's been the challenge in designing new ones to explore?
Favorite so far has to be "Tyrannix the Abominoid." He started in episode 1 as just a minor background character -- I think the script refers to him simply as a "small monster with many mouths". But I was so taken with the way Tan drew him he's slowly becoming more and more critical to things that happen thereafter. You'll see what I mean...
Creating new ones isn't really the challenge -- in fact, it's immensely liberating to have an almost endless supply of awesome visuals to draw upon. No, the challenge lies in (to touch on a question asked earlier on) not letting them become the point of the whole story. We don't want David's powers to become a Deus Ex Machina thing -- nor do we want "Legacy" to turn into the "superpower of the month" show. No, everything has to be filtered through David's perspective. It's not about how many amazing personalities he has in his brain, and the amazing powers they each represent -- it's about whether poor old David is going to manage to bend them each to his will, or whether they'll be able to control him instead.
Any plans to change up Legion's hairstyle?
Beg -- BEG! -- to be forgiven for even suggesting such a thing.
Finally, here's our "Behind the X" question: What is your favorite holiday present that you ever received?
I was given the norovirus last year -- does that count? No?
Ooh, I know. One Christmas -- I must've been about seven or eight -- I was given this drawing-board contraption thing: a little mini-desk with a paper-roller on the back so I could just keep on doodling forever and ever. With hindsight, a rather clever way of pacifying a precocious noisy little bastard like yours truly long enough for the grownups to chill out. Alas, it didn't work like that at all -- my first drawing was an affectionate caricature of the entire Spurrier clan, with each family-remember re-imagined as an "Addams Family"-style monster. Which kickstarted a behemoth of an argument amongst everyone else -- mostly about whose fault it was that I was such an ungrateful little shit -- and left me to cheerfully raid the fridge for dessert before the turkey was even cooked. My kinda holiday.
Special thanks to this week's guest, Si Spurrier, for his first-ever X-Position!
Next week, X-Position revisits the Jean Grey School as we pick Jason Aaron's brain on the newest developments in "Wolverine and the X-Men" as Marvel NOW! continues its roll-out. If you've got a head-scratcher for Jason, go ahead and send an email with the subject line "X-Position" on over. If you're more succinct in your queries, you can always try Twitter. However you get your questions in, make sure they're sent by Friday! Do it to it!