Viewers of FX’s “Legion” ain’t seen nothing yet. The show has put viewers in the mind of schizophrenic mutant David Haller, a place where nothing is certain and the veracity of everything seen on screen should be questioned. Towards the end of its first season, the series — adapted from the “X-Men” comic character of the same name — some of that confusion was cleared up. It turns out that David’s telepathic powers also open him up to a unique form of dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder.)
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Unlike those in the real world whose DID is the result of a single, fractured psyche, David literally has other people living in his head. In the comic books, each of those personalities exhibits a different superpower which he can harness. And some of them get pretty weird. One’s a centaur! There are two others that belch poison gas (one a pirate, the other a cherub). That’s only the tip of the iceberg. For fans of both the “Legion” source material and the small screen adaptation alike, we present David Haller’s 15 weirdest personalities.
The third volume of “New Mutants,” a series about a younger X-Team, kicked off with the “Return of Legion.” David, having once again lost control of his fractured mind, was in search of a so-called psychic “fixers,” who might help to get his mental house back in order. Unfortunately, some of his more antagonistic personalities had other ideas. Not wanting to lose their control over him, they sought to kill off psychic New Mutant Dani Moonstar, identifying her as one of these “fixers,” and anybody else who stood in their way.
Fellow team members Cannonball and Sunspot turn up to save Dani, but don’t expect David’s ever-changing powersets. One of the strangest comes from a personality called Sally, a morbidly obese woman with Hulk-like proportions and super-strength. She was goaded into smashing up any heroic mutant that stood in her way by the more nakedly villainous Legion personality Jack Wayne, who reminded her that she’s inherently unlovable thanks to her size. What is more sad than weird is her battle cry of “NOBODY LOVES ME!” which certainly gave Sunspot pause.
Despite that rocky start to their relationship, David was eventually accepted by the the most recent configuration of the “New Mutants,” becoming a recurring figure throughout the third volume of the series. A dozen or so issues later, he reappears in the middle of a life-or-death struggle for mutantkind. Cable and Hope Summers had returned from the future to ensure that the entire species doesn’t die out, but are met in the present day by the super-Sentinel Nimrod (who really should consider a name change) and his killer robot lackeys.
In a desperate situation, his father Charles Xavier coaxes Legion out of his psychic safe room to unleash all manner of superpowered fury. Among the shower of personalities he brings to the fight is Lucas, Personality #115, a leather-studded punk rocker identified by the Sentinels as having an “acoustic-aggressive mutation;” which is to say, he could blast white noise which could tear a person apart, Banshee-style. This personality even earned a cameo in the “X-Men: Evolution” animated series, with the added flourish of a Scottish accent!
13. TYRANNIX THE ABOMINOID
The second volume of “X-Men: Legacy” opened with David Haller’s mind in more disarray than usual. After the death of his father at the end of “Avengers vs. X-Men,” the mental blocks Xavier had put in place to keep his multiple personalities under control were erased. Immediately, the plethora of personas fought to take control of David’s body, with one of the most vociferous being Tyrannix the Abominoid. Unlike the majority of Legion’s personalities, Tyrannix is not a person.
Tyrannix is, for all intents and purposes, a mini Cthulhu. Like H.P. Lovecraft’s iconic creation, the Abominoid boasts large wings and tentacles on his face. Despite the imposing visage he’s (it’s?) one of the weakest of Legion’s personalities, trying to astral-project his way deeper into the recesses of his mind at a moment of weakness and yet still being easily pacified. After that, he’s had to suffer the indignity of being a telepathic backpack strapped over Legion’s shoulders when he finds it necessary to delve into his mind.
Part of Cthulhu’s whole deal is that he/it’s a being that’s existed for as long as the universe, with an untapped power to destroy, whose cosmic endurance and terrible power is beyond the ken of mortal men. Therein lies the horror. Tyrannix doesn’t quite live up to that standard, but Absence certainly does. Debuting in the third volume of “New Mutants,” issue four, this personality very nearly ended David’s battle with the team — and the life of Dani Moonstar along with it.
Absence was a terrifying, demonic creature with its eyes sewn shut, who claimed to have traveled “through realities and beyond the stars.” The name comes from the creature being the embodiment of the “absence of love and heat” meaning that, when it came across either of those things, it siphoned them off. Defeating the fire-based mutant Magma was pretty easy for Absence, but had it not been stopped, there were some terrifying implications for anybody else in the world who gave out body heat in any situation.
What is it about clowns? The amount of people who find them creepy surely overwhelms those who find them funny. Decades of killer clowns in the likes of “It,” plus a worrying spate of real-life creepy clowns popping up a couple of years ago, have basically committed the children’s entertainers to the category of nightmare fodder. David Haller’s mind is no different from the rest of ours, in this respect at least, when it comes to his own Clown personality.
Another “New Mutants” debutante, Clown was a larger, sleazy-looking sort of gentleman wearing stained, baggy dungarees along with the requisite white makeup and red nose. X-Men Karma and Magik ran into him while searching David’s mind for a small girl he had absorbed by accident, thrown off course by both his freaky look and his superpower: a sonic scream which could knock a regular person out, with a concussion. Yes, he was a superpowered screaming clown. Truly nightmarish.
10. KSENIA NADEJDA PANOV
Spare a thought for all these personalities. Admittedly, when they get control of Legion’s body, some of them default to supervillainy, but if you think about, can you really blame them? Their existence isn’t ideal. In “X-Men: Legacy,” David’s mind is portrayed as a huge prison, with each personality kept in a cell of their own until they are called upon. They are then strapped to a table and sapped of their essence. It’s all slightly disquieting.
That’s the way that David’s use of their powers is illustrated, anyway. In the first issue of “Legacy,” volume two, Ksenia Nadejda Panov is the poor unfortunate on the operating table. A rotund, well-dressed member of Russian aristocracy, she briefly took control of David, which was much more of a bad thing than it sounds. Ksenia, despite her superior upbringing, is a torturer of puppies with Lady Deathstrike-style knives that pop out of her fingers and let her sadistically slice people up. Nasty woman.
9. JOHNNY GOMORRAH
Being such a volatile personality (or personalities), Legion tended only to be trotted out when he absolutely needed to be. During “Age of X,” a big “X-Men” crossover event set in an alternate reality where mutants had been hunted nearly to extinction, was certainly a situation which required his involvement. An appearance by Adolf Hitler, surprisingly, doesn’t prove to be the strangest episode in “X-Men: Legacy” #249, as Magneto recites a parable from his early life to fellow survivor Rogue.
No, the strangest moment is when David Haller pops up and utilizes personality #186, Johnny Gommorah. Johnny’s superpower is that he can blast an enemy and transmute them into a tower of white powder. An observer notes that the “target [is] still intact, but transmuted into chalk, or — no, it’s salt.” She hadn’t studied her Bible closely enough, or she would’ve instantly noticed the link between Johnny’s name and the story of Lot’s wife, who was transformed into a pillar of salt as punishment for looking back at the sin-ridden cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The majority of the strife in David Haller’s life is mental, as his powers affect his psychological state. He does manage moments of honest-to-goodness body horror too, though. Take, for example, Skinsmith, who turned up during the second volume of “X-Men Legacy,” which was entirely focused on Legion. Skinsmith appears during a characteristic clash with the mutant team, who — perhaps understandably — are immediately on the defensive when they cross paths.
Trying to prove to the X-Men that drafting more young mutants into their “paramilitary organization” by then fighting them probably isn’t the most consistent stance. This is doubly true when the personality that comes out is so horrific: the screeching, malformed Skinsmith allows David control over other people’s skin, meaning he can seal up the fiery gob of Chamber with a new layer of tissue over his whole head, to the point where his skull almost explodes from the pressure.
7. THE ORIGAMIST
At the end of that same issue, “X-Men Legacy” #4 by Simon Spurrier and Jorge Molina, David calls on one of his “top dogs.” Cornered in a warehouse that’s about to explode, he retreats into his mind — where his myriad personalities are held in pens, or cells if you’re more cynical, before they are called upon for active duty. In this case, David calls up the Origamist. Not the most intimidating of names, perhaps, but it does belong to a sumo wrestler, with the traditional bulk and bad mood that goes along with it.
He also doesn’t have the powers you would expect, either. Rather than being a heavy-hitter with incredible super strength, he’s a reality-warper. Origamist allows David to teleport, or to teleport other things (like, say, an exploding warehouse) by folding along the creases of reality, similar to later Avenger Manifold or, you know, people who make things using origami. It’s a unique take on a familiar superpower, and a typically weird spin on the usual for Legion.
6. HUGH DAVIDSON
At first glance, Hugh Davidson isn’t strange at all. In fact, he looks even more “normal” than David Haller’s regular self, who even without the whole mutant DID thing would still be considered abnormal for that towering Marge Simpson haircut. Hugh is a classic Ivy League preppy kid, with blonde hair, blue eyes, dressed in soft pastels with a sweater tied over his shoulders. Just your regular, all-American whitebread college kid, this guy.
That’s before he opens his mouth, however. He talks with all the usual affectations of top-class breeding, greeting his combatants with a “tally ho, ol’ chaps!” and attempts to negotiate a peaceful compromise, before he uses his huge prehensile tongue to attack. It’s so long and strong that it almost chokes the life out of Sunspot, wrapped around his neck like a boa constrictor. That image is, frankly, as disgusting as it is impressive; all the more so considering the mouth that it’s come out of.
5. BLEEDING IMAGE
Oftentimes, a dissociative personality is the result of some hidden, repressed aspect of a person’s psyche. Some of the voices that have taken up residence in David Haller’s head have been absorbed or inspired by others around him, whilst others appear to be the manifestation of his own anxieties and neuroses. That’s what Bleeding Image suggests when he first shows up: “I’m a living voodoo doll. I stick pins in my own flesh, and others feel the pain. How much must David hate himself, to have imagined me?”
As with the Origamist, Bleeding Image has a typical superpower, filtered through Legion’s own troubled mind. The living voodoo doll was one of a handful of personalities to escape from David’s head following “Age of X,” thanks to a gap during the breaking of reality. He ended up doing some serious damage to Rogue by blowing himself up with a suicide vest, the wounds he suffered being visited upon her. It’s one of the most imaginative of Legion’s personalities, and also one of the most messed-up.
4. CHARLES XAVIER (SORT OF)
Professor X haunts David Haller’s mind, figuratively, in that the most powerful psychic in the world, founder and leader of the X-Men, is his (mostly absentee) father. His abandonment would trouble most people, regardless of preexisting mental health conditions and/or mutations. Then there is the more literal haunting — or as literal as the mental and astral planes get — where a Charles Xavier makes up one of David’s personalities… sort of.
The Xavier that exists in Legion’s head varies between benevolent, friendly old man, and… decidedly less so. Emerging due to the trauma of the real Xavier’s death, the personality initially took the form of “Fiend,” a creepy-looking little yellow goblin. At first, Fiend was assumed to be another of his antagonistic personalities (obviously, since he was a small hissing goblin creature,) before revealing that he was actually trying to help David retain control, eventually “revealing” himself as Professor X.
Now for something far less disquieting, but no less bizarre. Chronodon was another personality which leaped at the chance to take control of David once his mental defenses fell, in the wake of (the real) Xavier’s death. Legion’s attempt to wrest control of Chronodon was fairly weak, in all honesty, attempting the old “digging a big hole, covering it and then trying to lure his prey into it” gambit. It did not work. He can perhaps be forgiven for underestimating this particular personality, though.
That’s because Chronodon was literally-named. He was a dinosaur with a clock for a face. That’s mostly the extent of the character, although it’s been suggested that his abilities far outstrip the goofiness of his name and image. When Legion once more had a hold over the rest of his personalities, in his mind he imprisoned some of them at the bottom of a large pit. These were the most powerful among his personalities, the reality warpers and time travelers, who could do the most damage if they escaped. Chronodon was among them.
2. PROTOZOAN PORTER
Tyrannix isn’t the only octopoid that hangs out in David Haller’s mind. There’s also Protozoan Porter, a “blob-faced beastie” who gets his time to shine in the pages of “X-Men: Legacy.” Protozoan is more leech-like, really, made up of slimy tentacles, which again have little to do with his actual abilities. He doesn’t allow Legion to attach himself to people and start sucking out small quantities of his blood. Instead, he’s another teleporter, presumably for when the Origamist is busy.
Like the Origamist, Protozoan isn’t content to be a regular, run-of-the-mill teleporter. No, his gimmick is that he travels instantaneously over large distances by disassembling himself into constituent, minuscule ameboid-like parts, which are then put back together after reaching his destination. This is sort of similar to how the transporters in “Star Trek” work, breaking people down into atoms and then reassembling them, only much grosser.
1. MARCI SABOL
The catalyst behind the whole “New Mutants” storyline about the return of Legion, with the young team trying to contain the rampaging personalities of David Haller, was one simple mistake. Emerging after a long period of downtime, the first person Legion met was a small girl called Marci. In a scene straight out of “Frankenstein,” David meant her no ill, but unfortunately, his uncontrollable powers had other ideas. One of his evil personalities manifested and killed Marci, but that’s not the end of her story.
Having killed her, Legion absorbed Marci into his head, where she existed as another, distinct personality. Initially, the New Mutants teamed up with the kid’s parents to rescue her from David, before realizing she was dead and could not be brought back. The Sabols were then killed, too, for good measure, by yet another bad personality. Marci remained trapped until the end of the storyline, with the kicker being that she appeared to hold a great sway over this mind, despite not being a mutant. She was just a regular, scared, human girl.
With thousands of personalities, the options to this list are quite literally legion! Which ones are your favorite? Which ones scare you most? Let us know in the comments!