Legion: The Tortured Soul(s) of the X-Men

author img
BY July 12, 2019

First Appearance of Legion: #New Mutants #25
Created by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz

The Legend of Legion

X-Men Legion
Tick Tock (Marvel Comics)

Many superheroes have tragic backstories, and while the X-Men might have more than most, Legion has a particularly painful origin. David Haller is the bastard son of “he whom we all look up to” Charles Xavier. Xavier had an affair with Haller’s mother, Gabrielle Haller—who decided not to tell Xavier about his progeny. But not knowing who is daddy was isn’t the tragedy here—it’s what came later.

When he was a child, David nearly died in a terrorist attack. In fact, he was the sole survivor, and the experience triggered his psionic mutant ability. He obliterated the minds of the terrorists, but in the process absorbed the minds of all those who died around him—and the terrorist leader, Jemail Karami. Taking in that many minds at once left him in a catatonic state. His own mind shattered, and thus Legion was born. He developed several different personalities, but because he’s a mutant, it wasn’t as simple as just having disassociative identity disorder. Each personality had its own superpower. And this wasn’t just one or two or 23. Over the course of his publication, he’s had over a thousand.

Legion Art
wut? (Marvel Comics)

Since awakening on Muir Island, Legion has been victim, villain, and hero. The fact that he is probably the most powerful mutant on the planet with a damaged psyche and personalities constantly trying to take control of his body, makes him an “omega level” threat even when he is trying to be the hero. In fact, while trying to be the hero, Legion has almost destroyed the world multiple times, leaving the X-Men to pick up the pieces of his destruction.

A Legion of Great Legion Stories

Legion’s Debut

New Mutants Legion
(Marvel Comics)

Legion didn’t first appear in the main X-Men books, but in the popular New Mutants series. In Chris Claremont style, it’s short (3 issues) and to the point. The way he wrote Legion was incredible—the competing voice and depiction of a soul in turmoil, even for such a strange character, is some of the most human feeling writing of Claremont’s career. Claremont’s writing was only half of that equation. What really made Legion’s pain feel so real and personal was legendary artist Bill Sienkiewicz’s amazing work.

Legion Sienkiewicz

This could be a silent comic, and the emotion would still punch just as hard.

Legion Quest

X-Men Legion Quest
And won’t end well either. (Marvel Comics)

Legion Quest is actually the middle of what became the biggest even in X-Men history: Age of Apocalypse. The story starts with Shadow King Rising, in which the Shadow King possess David and kills the mutant Destiny, Mystique’s friend and lover. Though the X-Men defeated the Shadow King, his fall left Legion in a coma. And later on, Mystique went to seek revenge on Legion, believing he killed Destiny. All that did was wake Haller up, but he had a new, heroic cause! He was going to help his father secure peace for mutants by going back in time and killing Magneto.

Instead, he accidentally kills his own father 20 years in the past—and the result? The Age of Apocalypse. A nightmare reality where En Sabah Nur rules with an iron fist. This is what happens when Legion wants to do right by the world.

Return of Legion

New Mutants
Yeah, that seems about right. (Marvel Comics)

At the end of Age of Apocalypse, we find out that reality changed so that Gabrielle Haller ended up miscarrying her would-be mutant child. But, of course, this is comics, and no one is allowed to stay dead, or even unborn. However, Legion would return until Zeb Well’s late ‘00’s run on New Mutants, when the reformed team finds Haller in a concrete box and more unstable than ever. Legion’s most dangerous personalities are all fighting for control of a doll that gives them control of Haller’s body. The X-Men team has to find a way to stop Legion—but also help him.

Age of X

Age of X
Legion is always in pain, sadly. (Marvel Comics)

After Legion returned, the X-Men never stopped trying to help Legion control his powers and personalities. While trying to heal Haller’s Dissociative Personality Disorder, Dr. Nemesis, one of the X-Men’s top scientists, accidentally creates a new persona with the power to alter reality, and modeled after Haller’s adopted mother, the deceased Moira McTaggart. Moira wants to protect Legion, of course, and creates a reality where he is a beloved hero and the X-Men live protected behind a force wall maintained by the psionics on the team. It’s a crazy reality, and one of the best X-Men stories from the 2000s. It’s also Mike Carey’s best work at Marvel.

X-Men Disassembled

X-Men Legion
Always trying to be the hero. (Marvel Comics)

This is actually a fairly recent story from the latest incarnation of Uncanny X-Men. In this Legion is the villain, at least as far as the X-Men are concerned. In their defense, Haller is crazier than he’s ever been before. He’s imprisoned and enslaved Multiple Man and his dupes, and attacks the young mutants in the X-Men, ranting and raving about some horrible vision of the future. He’s trying to prevent this future from happening, but they’re coming—the Four Horseman of Salvation. Of course, he fails, and the X-Men’s latest event, which ends this month, begins: The Age of X-Man.

Simon Spurrier’s X-Men Legacy

The Best Legion work, period. (Marvel Comics)

Now, this takes place before Disassembled, of course, but it is, without a doubt, the definitive Legion story in any X-Men title. After Xavier dies in Avengers Vs. X-Men, Legion is devastated. Once again, he wants to help his father’s dream of peace come true, but this time he’s a little more careful. The entire series is brilliant, especially the relationship between Legion and Blindfold. The series is also a major influence on the FX series, so much so that Simon Spurrier is thanked in the credits at the end of every episode. This is one series that is worth buying the omnibus for. Plus, Tan Eng Huat’s art channels a lot of Sienkiewicz’s early work on the character.

The FX Series

Legion was a surprise hit, and one of the best shows on TV. If you’re not sure what to watch after binge-watching Stranger Things, try Legion. But, though it’s loved, it’s coming to an end after Season 3. Hopefully, since the show made him a more popular character, Legion will appear in more X-Men stories to come.


Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.

Leave a comment


DC Comics March Release Radar for Avid Fans

DC has been on a roll with some of its more popular IPs. The Justice League series from Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez has a great finish to its current storyline ready. A long form Harley Quinn piece is on the horizon. Not to mention, Event Leviathan kicks off. There are a lot of great […]

BY Taylor Bauer March 24, 2019
MarvelTV Shows
Marvel’s Runaways Season Three Teaser Shows The Team in Dire Straits

Marvel’s Runaways season three teaser dropped this week, and the clip raises a lot of questions about what’s ahead for theses super-teens.

BY Joshua M. Patton July 28, 2019
DC Universe Comic-Con Panels Highlight Its Future

The DC Universe Comic-Con panels will showcase what’s to come on the streaming service, highlighting original live-action & animated shows

BY Joshua M. Patton July 9, 2019
Fortnite Chapter 2 Trailer Intros New Map

Quite possibly the biggest game around right now, Fortnite is looking to keep players interested and invested with some major changes. If you didn’t catch the Fortnite chapter 2 trailer, here’s everything you need to know about the new map and things Epic Games is introducing. Fortnite Chapter 2 Trailer Shows Off New Digs There […]

BY Taylor Bauer October 15, 2019
Fortnite Season 11 Darkness Sends Fans into Uproar

Ahead of Fortnite’s newest season, which is the game’s 11th if you’re keeping score at home, Epic Games raised the stakes. Rather than hype players up with a crazy loot drop, or new in-game features, the Fortnite map we all know and love disappeared. Literally, as there is currently no map to play Fortnite on. […]

BY Taylor Bauer October 14, 2019
Google Stadia Broadband Caps Cause Major Concern

There are a lot of changes coming to the video game industry. For starters, the major home console makers are setting the stage for a new generation. We’re expected to see the new PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Scarlett (name pending) next year for the holidays. Plus, the Switch Lite is now on shelves, providing a […]

BY Taylor Bauer October 14, 2019
Fortnite Profits Drop Steeply – Is the Fad Waning?

Flash back to the 2018 holiday season. Fortnite, a free to play multiplayer titan, seemed unstoppable. Like anything in pop culture, however, nothing lasts at its peak forever. Recent news that Fortnite profits drop steeply when you look at 2019 Q2 trends points to some positives and negatives for Epic Games moving forward. Why did […]

BY Taylor Bauer October 10, 2019


Kevin Feige Promoted to Chief Creative Officer at Marvel Studios, Overseeing, Well, Everything

That a seismic shake-up was underway at Marvel was apparent. The Sony and Disney standoff over Spider-Man, rumors that Marvel Studios would take over Marvel Television, and an ambitious MCU Phase 4 line-up. However, what that shake-up was remained a mystery until now. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, was promoted to Chief Creative Officer, […]

BY Joshua M. Patton October 15, 2019
Fortnite Chapter 2 Trailer Intros New Map

Quite possibly the biggest game around right now, Fortnite is looking to keep players interested and invested with some major changes. If you didn’t catch the Fortnite chapter 2 trailer, here’s everything you need to know about the new map and things Epic Games is introducing. Fortnite Chapter 2 Trailer Shows Off New Digs There […]

BY Taylor Bauer October 15, 2019
Doctor Doom #1 Shows He Loves Latveria More than Doom

Doctor Victor Von Doom, the ruler of the fictional country Latveria, might have the biggest ego in comics. It’s a toss-up between him and Lex Luthor, really. And as one of the biggest villains in Marvel Comics, Doom has caused mayhem and death all over the universe. So, how is it possible that he not […]

BY Roman Colombo October 15, 2019
Zoe Kravitz Will Be The Batman’s Catwoman

After a series of screen tests with various actresses, it is now official. Zoe Kravitz will play Catwoman, opposite Robert Pattinson, in Matt Reeves’s The Batman. Here are the details we know so far about her role, including, perhaps, the most surprising part of her casting. What Role Will Catwoman Play in the Upcoming Movie? […]

BY Salomé Gonstad October 15, 2019