Charles Xavier casts a long shadow in the Marvel Universe. His vast mental powers, his dream of peaceful coexistence between man and mutant, and his establishment of the X-Men to fight for that dream means his legacy is a hard one to live up to. Xavier's son, David Haller AKA Legion, is even more powerful than his father, but he suffers from an extreme form of dissociative identity disorder that makes being a man of influence and importance a struggle.
In recent years David's father tried to aid him in that struggle, but he was murdered by the possessed mutant Cyclops before any major breakthroughs could be made to repair his son's shattered psyche. His death during the recent "Avengers Vs. X-Men" event inspired David to attempt to finally take control of the thousands of personas and powers that reside in his mind and become a positive force in the Marvel Universe.
As part of the Marvel NOW! initiative David began his new quest in in the latest volume of "X-Men: Legacy," and he's finding it rather difficult so far. He's had to battle the hostile personalities in his head, rescue two powerful children from a cult of ninja worshippers and even take on the X-Men in #4. Comic Book Resources spoke with writer Simon Spurrier about the events of the series so far and his plans for "X-Men Legacy" moving forward.
CBR News: Simon, in "X-Men Legacy" #4 David and representatives of the Jean Grey School had a disagreement that turned physical. Did the fight mainly breakout because of the way the X-Men treated David or is there a genuine philosophical difference? If I'm not mistaken, the school is supposed to be a place where young mutants are trained to use their powers and then decide if they want to be heroes when they come of age. Would David have a problem with that?
Simon Spurrier: For me, the do-as-you're-told-kid treatment is certainly what catalyzed the fisticuffs, yeah -- but there's a deeper philosophical difference beneath it all.
David's beliefs and ideologies are still forming -- that's part of his journey, and we'll get a better sense of where he stands when they've crystallized in the not-too-distant future -- but for now he's at least able to identify a few of the things he definitely doesn't agree with.
As you say, in an ideal world the X-school allows its pupils to decide if they want to be heroes when they "come of age" -- but I bet you could count on one hand how many of them have never been caught-up in a violent situation, or worse yet obliged to use violence themselves, just because of their association with the X-Men. It's not exactly an unbiased preparation for making that big choice, anyway. So that's one thing.
But more importantly it's the idea that these kids are being born into a world where fighting might plausibly be a necessity. The way David sees it, if the X-Men had made any real difference over the decades since they were formed mutant kids wouldn't need to know how to fight. As he says in issue #4, he doesn't have a problem with his father's dream -- a better world for humans and mutants alike -- but as of now he's just not convinced his dad's methods have paid-off.
Course, we can all go back and forth on whether we agree with him -- and in fact his opinions and attitudes will keep on evolving as long as he's alive, like everyone's -- but when you take into account the shit storm his life has been, all the horrors and miseries he's witnessed and inadvertently perpetrated, it's no great surprise he's suspicious of the X-Men. If they can't even fix him without resorting to putting him in a coma, why the hell should he trust them to fix the world?
The question now becomes: what does he intend to do so differently? As of this point that's still not something he's sure about (and he says as much in Episode #3) -- and you could even argue his Anti-X views vaguely tally with Cyclops' at this juncture -- but things are solidifying all the time, and you won't have to wait long to see a manifesto forming in David's mind. And it's not like anything else you've seen in the X-world so far: Cyclopian or Loganist or otherwise.
David is able to battle the X-Men because Sojobo and Karasu, the children he rescued earlier in the series, aid him in accessing powers associated with his various personalities and the ego boost he later gets from being needed. This seems to suggest the best possible thing for David's mental health is to be active in the world and try to make it a better place. Is that correct or am I oversimplifying things?
No, no, you're totally correct.
The more he feels needed -- the more he feels like he's doing something that matters -- the stronger David's inner-self becomes. That's a really fascinating psychological dynamic, to me. And it's something we're going to be exploring in the long-term--in particular, what sort of scars must a young mind carry to have become so reliant on validation? And how might it have received those scars?
Of course David's inner psychic prison and the hold he has over his personalities can be disrupted, as we saw in issue #4 when Blindfold stepped inside his head and was swatted out by the sinister goblin-like persona we've seen skulking around the prison. Can you tell us anything about this personality? Is it necessarily malevolent? And when it attacked Blindfold was it protecting David or protecting itself?
Can't say much, alas. But be reassured that answers -- or at least things with the appearance of answers -- are coming soon. But "was it protecting David or protecting itself...?" That's a very good question.
What I will say is that I've seen a lot of online discussion and conjecture about this stuff, and it's lovely to be helming a book causing so much debate.
A related note, worth touching on briefly: it's not just the mysteries causing discussion, is it? The tone of the book, the choice of central character, the art; pretty much everything about new "Legacy" has prompted fairly heated disagreements here and there. I can't tell you how amazing it feels that so many people have embraced its not-normalness with such speed and passion, but really: it's no surprise and nothing to fear when it turns out it's not for everyone.
Nice. Speaking of Blindfold, she appeared to be acting stranger than normal when she was inside David's head. Can you tell us what she meant when she said she might be David's nemesis?
I love "stranger than normal," heh. Again, I can't say much, except that answers are coming. I'm really pleased so many people noticed the change in her syntax while she was inside David's head -- I worried that was too subtle a detail -- and that's something we'll be revisiting.
Blindfold comes complete with a lot of question-marks. There's very little known about her past, how her powers work, why she speaks the way she speaks, etc. Next issue? Issue #5? All your questions will be answered. How's that for a tease?
I'm intrigued. It's clear from her scenes in "Legacy" #4 you have an affinity for "Blindfold. What interests you most about the character, and what made you want to use her in this series?
We-ell -- this is maybe spelling things out a little strongly, but my aim from the get go was to focus on story lines and characters with a thematic link to ancestry, family and parental roles. Why did I pick Chamber and Frenzy to join the X-team? What informed Sojobo and Karasu's back story? You think about those questions, and you start to get a better grasp of what lies at the heart of David's journey. Initially it was the same with Blindfold. About all anyone knows about her is that her family suffered some terrible tragedy: her mother was killed and her brother was involved.
But, as is often the way, things have evolved from those arbitrary beginnings. I quickly got a feel for Blindfold (or, more accurately, what Blindfold once was and what she could be). She's broken, she's tormented, she's scared, and she's powerful. She's so close to being David's female counterpart it's just not true.
As we're going to see, there are also other things which connect them in far stranger ways. Mysteries, mysteries, mysteries. [Laughs]
The biggest mystery of your "X-Men Legacy" run so far is the identity and agenda of the mysterious, for lack of a better name, Eyeball Guy. I can't help but think this is an established X-Men character we've seen before. Can you confirm or deny that? It felt like you were dropping hints to his identity in "X-Men Legacy" #2 when he was talking with Legion. Were you?
All will be revealed, all will be revealed. That's quickly becoming the battle cry of this comic. Actually, that's not true. The real battle cry is "Most will be revealed, most will be revealed." Some of the juiciest secrets are going to take a long time to mature.
The end of the previous issue suggested Eyeball Guy's plans will into high gear in #5-6 as you close out the first arc. What can you tell us about those issues?
Heh. I think I've been unduly generous with the hints, so far. Let's see what else I can sprinkle...
In writing episode #5, I got as near as I'll ever come to that Spaceknight Rom pitch I've had in my "Work In Progress" file since I was 14.
In episode #6 I wrote my first line of Dooptalk.
Cryptic and informative at the same time. I like it. The next "X-Men Legacy" arc kicks off in March with #7. What can you tell us about your second story? Where does it primarily take place? The solicits for this next arc suggest your initial story was about David deciding what he wants to do with his life and that this next story will be about how he goes about doing that. Is that accurate or is there more to the story than that?
"Initial story was about David deciding what he wants to do with life, next arc about how he goes about doing that." -- Couldn't have put it better myself.
The first three eps of the second arc are set in all sorts of different places -- from Carolina to the moon by way of the Astral Plane. Each ep has an individual title, but I don't think it's giving too much away to mention that my working title for the trilogy was "A Beginner's Guide to Psychic Dating." Which, uh, makes it all sound kind of airy-fairy, now I come to read it back, when in fact there's plenty of explodo, spandex swashbuckling, aliens, a truly unique New Mutant being discovered, golden-age characters, genocide, aetheric monsters, etc etc. All the good stuff.
Episodes #10-12 are currently going under the working title "Invasive Exotics" -- that's a science-term, fact-fans, go look it up -- and is going to Actually Blow Your Mind. Something very, very big is lurking in the background of all this stuff.
It's strange, isn't it? Their styles are so utterly different to look at, yet they both characterize something I've come to see as my requisite for good art: "Expressive and dynamic without being cartoony."
Neither of them is afraid of distorting the human form, using stylized lines, cheating the laws of photorealism. And yet neither of them could be dismissed as silly or overly abstract or unclear.
Tan's is probably the more stylized work of the two, but his storytelling is second to none and his sense of design is off the chart. Jorge's work looks "cleaner" on the page, but it's just as endowed with style and grit as anything. I've particularly enjoyed how inventively he solves some of the weirdo problems I present: trippy montages, dream-sequences and flashbacks. Episode #5 is a real showcase for that stuff.
Finally you're currently telling a story about Legion interacting with Wolverine's faction of the X-Men. Are you interested in having David interact with Cyclops' Uncanny X-Men in the near future? Is David even aware that Cyclops' killed his father or the circumstances under which his father died?
I think we can safely assume, by now, that David knows who deadified daddy. I also think we can safely assume that the two men will eventually meet.
I was at pains, way up top of this interview, to reassure readers that David's nebulous philosophies won't end-up tallying completely with Scott's, any more than they do with Logan's. But I'm not going to spoil for you how much of an overlap there might be, how much of an instinctive revenge-lust David's going to feel, and whether these two pariah-characters will end up becoming enemies, put their differences aside and become allies -- or wind-up killing each other.
Before we conclude, I want to take the opportunity, though, to thank the readers for their astonishing support, to promise them there are surprises, explodings, gut punches and heart hurts-a-plenty on the horizon, and to mention that -- by way of giving something back -- I've set up a little tumblr for notes, annotations, fan-art, links, behind-the-scenes glimpses, random brain farts and all other things "X-Men Legacy."
Check it out at http://xmenlegacy.tumblr.com/.