When Marvel announced that the new “X-Men: Legacy” #1 by Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat would focus on the character of Legion, I know I wasn’t the only person a little worried. Ever since his original story in “New Mutants,” the character of Legion has been a bit problematic, to put it mildly. The idea of a character with multiple personalities each wielding a different power isn’t bad (and in many ways was brought to its best fruition with Crazy Jane in “Doom Patrol”), but over the years the character of Legion has been through so many twists and turns gotten silly. This is, after all, a character who was possessed by the Shadow King, enslaved all of Muir Island, traveled back in time and killed Professor X to create the Age of Apocalypse and went from four personalities to hundreds that each had their own ability. In short, Legion has enough baggage to warrant an airport carousel.
Still, Spurrier and Huat have done good comics in the past, so with that in mind it seemed like a good idea to at least give “X-Men: Legacy” #1 a try. Unfortunately, “X-Men: Legacy” #1 feels like a bit of a disaster. Some parts are merely written in a slightly uninteresting way, like the two pages of stilted exposition so that Spurrier can remind the readers who Legion is and give a brief synopsis of his history. From there, though, the book just falls flat.
For a character with so many personalities, it’s sad to say that Legion here doesn’t seem to have any character traits aside from being sulky on occasion. His wish to help people doesn’t come across in a believable manner. The one warring personality we get is extremely one-note as well, and aside from a long name doesn’t have any hook that makes you want to read more about her.
More frustrating is the general random nature of “X-Men: Legacy” #1. The random circus folk. A cameo from Blindfold, who with each appearance has her prophetic powers feel less and less attention-getting and more a blatant attempt to try and create drama. The attempted jail break with its strange-sounding words falls flat instead of piquing interest. None of these pieces feel like they’re part of the same comic, and while I get that Legion himself is supposed to be a bit piecemeal, this clash of ideas fails. By the end of the issue, I find it hard to believe that anyone would be that interested in the character of Legion.
Huat’s pencils over the years have been beautifully detailed and a joy to look at, so I’m not sure what went wrong here. It doesn’t look like any art from Huat that I’ve seen; the detail is gone, replaced with slightly blobby character designs. The moments that should be awe-inspiring, like the Qortex Complex, just looks muddled and actually a little hard to follow in places. None of this comes together on an artistic manner, and it ends up feeling actually a bit ugly.
The sad thing is that a book about a character with multiple personalities could be fun. (Matt Ruff’s novel “Set This House in Order” is a prime example of how it can work for a narrative success.) I’m not convinced that “X-Men: Legacy” could ever be that book, though. The character of Legion feels like a bit of a poison pill at this point in time, and while Spurrier and Huat throw in everything but the kitchen sink to try and fix the problem, it feels like too big of a stumbling block for either one to get over. All in all, a disappointment.