X-Men's Legion: Comic Book Origins

Written by Craig Butler

The appropriately named Legion takes mental disorder to a whole new level. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Legion.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1985’s New Mutants #26-28 and which was expanded upon in 2012’s X-Men Legacy #1-3.

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Superhero Origin: Legion

The appropriately named Legion takes mental disorder to a whole new level. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Legion.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1985’s New Mutants #26-28 and which was expanded upon in 2012’s X-Men Legacy #1-3.

Legion is pretty much the definition of a “problematic fav.” The mutant suffers from an extreme case of multiple personality disorder. In this case, each of his personalities has a different mutant-based power. Originally these powers were limited to telepathy, telekinesis and the ability to create fire, but that has changed through the years as more personalities have emerged. And since many of Legion’s personalities are not on the side of the angels, the guy is sometimes as much a villain as he is a hero.

Legion’s backstory actually begins in 1982, several years before he first appeared. An issue of X-Men included a flashback in which Professor X traveled to Israel and first met the man who would become Magneto. Charles Xavier was there to help a woman who had been in a catatonic state for years. Using his mental powers, Xavier broke through to the mind of Gabrielle Haller, who had suffered terribly in Nazi concentration camps. As they grew to know each other, Charles and Gabrielle fell in love.

Haller returned in a mutants storyline in 1985. Professor X and a band of young mutants were called to Muir Island, where their colleague Moira MacTaggert ran a mutant research facility. Also present was Gabrielle Haller, whom the Professor had not seen in many years and who had since become an Israeli ambassador to Great Britain.

Moira had asked Charles to come because she was having problems with David Haller, Gabrielles’s son. David was autistic and schizophrenic, with a complete withdrawal from reality. He had recently caused an explosion which put two of Moira’s other mutant colleagues into a coma.

Charles suspected that Gabrielle was keeping something from her, but agreed to try to help. He used his psychic powers to enter David’s mind, where he encountered a huge wall protecting David’s mind. He also encountered a mind with an Arabian background before he was forcibly thrust from David’s mind.

Soon after, David caused another incident, one which put Moira and several of the mutants into a coma. Charles re-entered David’s mind, along with his colleague Psyche. He discovered the secret that Gabrielle had been keeping from him – that David Haller was the Professor’s son.

Charles also discovered that David had multiple personalities. One of these personalities was named Jack Wayne, an adventurer with telekinetic powers. Another was a girl, Cyndi, who had pyrokinetic powers. And the third was the Arab boy, Jemail, a telepath. It quickly became apparent that Jemail had built a mental wall around David’s mind. It also seemed that Jemail was responsible for the sorry state of affairs in which David existed .With this knowledge, Charles joined forces with Jack and Cyndi in order to break through the wall.

After many trials, Charles and his crew succeeded. He also learned that Jemail was not actually one of David’s own personalities. Instead, it turned out that he was part of a team of assassins that killed David’s good friend and attempted to kill David. It was this assassination attempt which caused the eruption of David’s latent mutant powers, which killed his attackers and thrust him into a catatonic state. However, when this occurred, it also sucked in the psyche of his attacker, Jemail.

Although Jemail had been sent as an assassin, he had reformed during his years inside David’s mind. It turned out that the wall he had built around David’s mind had been intended to help heal and protect David, with the goal of banishing his split personalities and leaving David whole. This was something that Cyndi and Jack were against, as it would effectively kill them. But by the end of the story, the personalities were committed to working together in a cooperative fashion – although it was doubted that Jack could be trusted. And with David in a better place, he was finally able to meet his father.

Things didn’t go so smoothly for David, who went by the name Legion when in his superhero identity. His personalities didn’t get along, and it became even more problematic when it turned out that he had far more than just 3 alternate personalities, each with its own special power. And since to access that power, he had to let the specific personality take charge, there was bound to be lots of conflict.

Fortunately, in 2012, a guru named Merzah was able to help David build a psychic prison where he could keep his various evil personalities imprisoned. And in this version, readers found out that David’s relationship with Professor X were much very complicated. David had extremely conflicted feelings about a father whom he never knew while he was growing up and whom he felt didn’t give him the time and attention that he needed and deserved.

Legion’s leap into series television has many fans beside themselves with joy. But the character had shown up in animated form, both as himself and in a thinly-disguised version known as Takeo Sasaki. With so many personalities and powers to explore, he has limitless potential for other media appearances.

Are you a fan of Legion and his many personalities? For more exiting comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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