|Marvel NOW! teaser by Joe Quesada|
By Paul Montgomery –
Long ago, Charles Xavier had a dream, a halcyon vision of prosperity for humans and mutants alike. Despite his best efforts, it’s been a dream long deferred and a mission often warped and contested by zealous pretenders to his legacy.
Starting this November, writer Si Spurrier and Eisner award winning artist Tan Eng Huat chronicle the efforts of David Charles Haller to assume his father’s mantle as shepherd of Homo Superior. Revamped and revitalized, X-MEN LEGACY looks not to the past, but to the next self-assured steps in the evolution of a species.
If the reality-revising son of Professor X gets his way, the future of mutantkind will be Legion.
We spoke with Spurrier about the fragmented psyche of the brash bastard known as Legion and his bid to reshape mutant society in his father’s name.
Marvel.com: The concept for the new X-MEN LEGACY certainly lives up to the book’s name…
Si Spurrier: [Laughs] Yeah, David does feel like a natural fit for the title, doesn’t he? 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 Stiltman Legacy, no, no, let it be Squirrel Girl Legacy, or Devil Dinosaur Legacy, or yadda yadda.”
|X-Men Legacy #1 cover|
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.
Marvel.com How long has this been in the works? Why is this David’s time to step into that light?
Si Spurrier: 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.
That’s a cool starting point.
Marvel.com: At any given time, the mutant community seems to rally around one of two opposing leaders. It obviously started with the clash between Professor X and Magneto. In recent years Cyclops and Wolverine have reluctantly adopted that two-party system. How does Legion figure into the mutant political landscape, both in his own mind and to the larger population?
Si Spurrier: Very good question.
Without giving too much away, nothing’s ever that easy with David. When we join him at the start of this story he’s very much alone, confused [and] lost. In many ways the controlling idea behind everything he does is about finding himself—but of course that manifests with all the explodo insane villain-blasting fun you’d expect, as well as the soul-searching and, ah, internal struggles particular to David.
But—yeah. 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.
Marvel.com: Given his checkered history, who’s aligning themselves with Legion? Who’s standing in his way?
Si Spurrier: David’s journey, as well as all of his thoughts, goals and fears, are intrinsically linked to his relationship with his father. Or, rather, the way he sees his relationship with his father, which isn’t the same thing at all.
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.
And also worth remembering, there’s a lot of turbulent water under David’s proverbial bridge: through no particular fault of his own he’s caused an awful lot of misery, madness and collateral damage down through the years. Hence it stands to reason that a lot of other characters, even the ones who’re sympathetic to David’s various goals and agendas, are going to find it very hard to trust that he’s stable and safe.
…which, totally, he’s not. You mentioned 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.
Which is the longwinded way of saying David’s inner-demons, and inner-angels, are very much a part of his story. And they take a very, very weird form indeed.
Marvel.com: It can’t be easy writing a character with Legion’s seemingly limitless power-set. How do you contain all that potential energy? Or do you even try? How off-the-wall are we talking?
Si Spurrier: Totally off the wall. Like, the wall is just a dot in the distance. It’s the anti Spider-Man. That’s how not-sticking-to-the-wall it is. If the wall was alcohol, we’d be in tee-total rehab. Seriously, the wall is a distant memory. Something spoken of in hushed whispers—ten thousand generations have our people journeyed away from the wall—and depicted in chalky cave drawings. But, um, not caves which are part of the wall itself, because, as has been established, the wall is not something with which we are presently acquainted.
I have no idea what I’m saying.
Okay. How does one contain all that potential energy bottled-up in David? Same way all the best Marvel characters work: “hero with a problem.” You can’t make these guys amazing and likeable and empathetic if you make life easy for them. I like to think David’s a sort of explodo ultimate expression of that: he’s one of the most powerful beings alive, but his particular problem is so tricksy, so self-inflating and dangerous, that nothing’s ever going to be effortless.
As I hinted above, 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.
Marvel.com: How about the setting? Where can we expect David’s journey to take him?
Si Spurrier: I’m seeing this as a truly global story, for now. We’re going to start out in a very unfamiliar place, a thoroughly awesome and amazing place packed full of very cool stuff. After which we’ll be mostly staying on the move. But, this being X-MEN LEGACY, we’re naturally going to be encountering some classic locations as we go. I think I can quietly reveal that, yes, we will be hanging out at the X-Mansion. But for how long, and in what capacity, are things you’ll have to wait and see.
Marvel.com: Let’s talk about hair. The offspring of Charles Xavier seems to revel in flaunting flamboyant hairstyles, maybe out of spite for the old man. Will taking charge of the family business tone Davey-boy down?
Si Spurrier: If David, in his old school MC Hammer EnorMo’ guise, went wandering up some of the media-wanker pretentious streets here in London, today, he’d be applauded as the trendy types’ Lizard King.
I kinda like that his look is recognizable but versatile; within a couple of issues he’ll be getting a “costume” of sorts, in the sense that it’s What He Usually Wears rather than because he’s made the “logical” link between wearing a leotard and fighting crime; and the old eraserhead Do can be worn up or down as he pleases. One of the things we’re going to be exploring eventually is David’s conflicting ideas about how best to approach the knotty notion of Integration, so we’re going to see him doing his best—and failing—to hipster-himself-up specially. There’s a lot of really fun weirdness on the horizon.
For more on Marvel NOW!, visit the official hub page, and stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news!