The mind of Legion is about to go primetime. Dan Stevens (The Guest) and showrunner Noah Hawley (Fargo) will bring the mutant son of Charles Xavier — who suffers from an over-the-top, exaggerated form of multiple personality disorder — to life on FX in Legion, a spin-off television drama set within or around or maybe even separate from the X-Men movie series from 20th Century Fox.
The son of Professor Charles Xavier and a Holocaust survivor named Gabrielle Haller, Legion — born David Haller — was created by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz in Marvel’s New Mutants #25 in 1985. In his youth, David was the sole survivor of a terrorist attack, causing his mutant powers to manifest early and split, with each personality wielding different powers. David also absorbed the consciousness of the terrorist leader, Jemail Karami, the first personality to become part of Legion.
While stuck in David’s consciousness, Karami tried to separate himself but was stopped by two of David’s most dominant identities: a telekinetic named Jack Wayne, and a rebellious pyrokinetic named Cyndi. After a few more kerfuffles, David emerges as Legion with very, very loose ties to the X-Men.
Although Legion isn’t a spotlight character like Wolverine or Storm, Legion has had a few notable comic book runs, especially in recent storylines. Here are some choice Legion comics to pick up to prepare for Legion.
5. X-Men: New Mutants Classic Vol. 4
Legion first appeared in New Mutants written by Chris Claremont, whose run in X-Men remains one of the most enduring today. In the fourth volume collection which presents New Mutants #26-34, the New Mutants attempt to rescue Legion in his very first arc in comics.
4. X-Men: Legacy: Legion Omnibus
In anticipation of the TV series, Marvel is unleashing a full blown omnibus of Simon Spurrier’s X-Men: Legacy series from 2012, which stars Legion trying to uphold his late father’s legacy in the aftermath of his death, which took place during the summer crossover Avengers vs. X-Men. If looking for trade paperbacks or hunting down all 24 individual issues isn’t your thing, the whole collection will release in April this year.
3. X-Men: Age of Apocalypse Prelude/Legion Quest
A prelude to the gigantic Age of Apocalypse that loosely inspired last year’s X-Men: Apocalypse, Legion Quest spanned several issues of separate X-Men books from the ‘90s, including Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, Cable, and volume two of X-Men.
Legion wants to change the world and goes back in time to kill Magneto to prevent him from committing his heinous crimes, a notion echoed recently with the critically divisive Marvel crossover Civil War II. However, Legion winds up killing his own father, leading to a drastic new timeline and leaving the X-Men vulnerable to Apocalypse’s invasion. While Age of Apocalypse deals with, you guessed it, Apocalypse’s attempt to take control, Legion Quest is the fateful adventure beforehand, starring Legion acting impulsively.
2. New Mutants Vol. 1: Return of Legion
In 2010, Zeb Wells took on the reformed New Mutants who are sent to investigate a strange, newly manifested young mutant (named Marci), only to find Legion alive and trapped in a concrete box. A whole army of David’s split personalities are trying to take over. This first volume contains the first five issues of Wells’s New Mutants, which contains this very arc.
1. Age of X
Mike Carey took on the 2011 storyline Age of X, featuring a separate reality created (indirectly) by Legion. But Legion is just one of many characters in this blockbuster, multi-series X-Men crossover.
The “Age of X” reality is created when Doctor Nemesis attempts to restore Legion’s sanity. But instead, a new personality with a whole new powerset is born. Modeled after Moira MacTaggert, this “Moira” personality tries to protect Legion — who, also, is a member of the Force Warriors — from Xavier and the rest of this reality’s mutants. Several non-mutant Marvel characters appear in Age of X too, including Captain America, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, the Hulk, and Spider-Woman. But don’t expect any of them to appear in Legion.
Legion premieres February 8 on FX.