“X-Men Legacy” is definitely one of Marvel Comics’ most intriguing X-Men titles. Series writer Si Spurrier has taken Legion on a journey that brought him face-to-face with his father’s killer, Cyclops, in a massive fistfight that ended with Legion seemingly victorious — but not before Cyclops set off the Pyrrhic: a psychic bomb designed to leave Legion defenseless. Unfortunately, it also caused Legion to lose his tight rein over his multiple personalities, including one that looks suspiciously like a golden Charles Xavier.
This week, Si Spurrier joined X-POSITION to give readers an idea of the future direction of the series, the motivations behind and consequences of the Cyclops/Legion fight, the development of the Pyrrhic and more.
CBR News: Si, you wrapped up the Cyclops/Legion fight in “X-Men: Legacy” #18 with Legion as the clear winner — if only because he managed to take the higher ground while making Scott look like an idiot. David seemed to really have his wits about him in that issue. How much more control did he have as compared to when he started during your run on the series?
Heh. Funny you see it like that. A lot of people have said to me, “How could you’ve let that mono-ocular snob win!?” I guess people do a bit of projecting onto these things.
Also, nobody really said “mono-ocular.” I made that up.
Anyway, I figure it’s tricky to say who really “won” the fight between the two men, if it’s actually important (David’s point was: it isn’t). I mean, Cyke beat the living shit out of the kid, only to discover David wanted him to. Who won? And then David treated Scott to a frankly quite condescending lecture on Getting One’s Hands Dirty, which did indeed make Scott look like kind of a douche, only to discover the [Uncanny X-Men] had done precisely that already. Who won?
Net draw, I suppose, though hopefully I’ve not succumbed to the Laziest Tradition In Comics too gratuitously, and got there in an interesting sort of way. Plus, y’know: net draw or otherwise, only one of them’s getting taken out of there on a stretcher, and it ain’t Cyclops.
As for David having his wits about him: oh yes, very much so. The aim all along was not only to develop his character — all the convolutions and agonies of his emotional journey — but also to very deliberately change the way he operates as a being, as a hero, as an organism. I was determined to introduce a character who really does change. There’s no neat little status quo to which we continually revert. We’ve seen him building his control, strengthening his resolve, becoming more confident, more cunning, and — arguably — more dangerous. Now we’re ready for the next step.
The Pyrrhic was an interesting move for Scott and Emma, and certainly a psychic weapon readers hadn’t seen before. How did you develop the concept and execution?
Oh, just one of those things which arose out of instinct and necessity in equal measure. So… by this point in his story, David’s approaching the apogee of his self-control and self-confidence, right? From the poor, broken kid we first met we’ve started to detect small — and, I think, excusable — hints of arrogance about him. Not very attractive. I knew from the outset that the penultimate arc needed to end with a really big plunge into darkness, and it felt apt that it should come as the result of his hubris. I wanted him to be exulting in his victory, full of his own self-importance, really starting to believe in himself — and then for the rug to be quite simply swept out from under him.
To achieve that I knew I’d need to gently foreshadow the seeds of the fall. It had to be plausible: not some deus-ex-machina nonsense coming from nowhere. So that got me thinking. It struck me that for Scott Summers the need to neutralize a threat would be far more important than the need to personally “win” against it — he and David are very alike in that respect. Pragmatic. Scott’s also the sort of guy who spends every spare moment planning for every conceivable eventuality. It followed that Scott wouldn’t hesitate to deploy a resource even if he wasn’t around to see it work, if that was what his prepared strategy required. Quite literally: a pyrrhic victory.
It’s classic theatre, really.
Actually, someone sent me a page recently from an old episode of “Legacy” — I don’t have numbers on hand, sorry — in which Emma Frost pulled almost the same trick on Charles Xavier. Spent ages seeding insecurities and doubts in his mind in order to weaken him little by little. Not exactly the same, but nice to know there’s a partial-precedent. Sneaky people do sneaky things, is the moral of this story. Like David said: cheating is winning.
Meanwhile, you also set up the next arc moving forward, with the golden Charles Xavier escaped from Legion’s head and David in Cyclops’ custody and all his hard work compartmentalizing his mind undone. What kinds of new challenges does Legion’s broken state present as he attempts to go after the escaped Xavier?
Heh. Well, obviously I have to be circumspect about that. What I’ll say is this: the events of episode 19 and 20 are, basically, transformative. There’s a revelation down in the guts of it all, which completely changes the way David fights his battle — in a way which, I think, is very natural. It’s been hinted at all along, though to my knowledge nobody’s quite twigged yet. But, yes. Transformative, and in such a way that we’re then directly building to the grand, epic (and oh my God, I use that word with care), yes, epic climax which was built into this story right from the very start.
You’re bringing in Abigail Brand again for the next issue, who has seen Legion’s handiwork before. What brings her back around to interact with Legion again?
Heh heh heh. We-ell… with the usual proviso that there are secrets and twists waiting in the wings, the basic setup is this: in the wake of his encounter with the UXM, David was rendered unconscious. Ruined. Having promised Ruth that he’d be fairly treated, Cyke’s passed him onwards to S.W.O.R.D. — simply because they have the best holding facilities and power-suppressing-technologies known to man. And there David would have stayed, in suspended animation, if he hadn’t just received a visitor. Someone we’ve met before, in fact, who you may not even have realized was a loose end, returning to pass judgment on our poor broken hero.
The more prosaic answer to the question is that I love writing Brand and Sydren, I knew I’d have to pay-off the “I’ll be watching” setup from way back in episode 7, and it just so happened that their involvement at this point fits perfectly with the strange and rapidly-approaching hairpin bend in David’s life.
Moving on to reader questions, cora reef kicks us off with a question about MI-13’s recent appearance in “X-Men Legacy.”
Dear Mr. Spurrier, It’s been great getting to see your take on the greater Marvel Universe as Legion’s taken his journey, especially MI-13. What would your pitch be for an MI-13 series if you ever had the chance to write one?
Hi Cora — thanks so much, glad you’re enjoying it. I feel as though I’ve waffled about this before somewhere — forgive me if I’m repeating myself. I think my starting point would be with a mixture of folklore and espionage: it feels like there’s something interesting to be taken from that. I’m totally obsessed by folklore — what it is, I mean, rather than the details — because when you think it through you realize that all myths are simply stories which were once elevated to the dizzying heights of belief, but have since come crashing down into the swampy mire of superfluous and barely-remembered superstition, fit only to be sanitized and turned into bad children’s movies. They’re the burnt-out rockstars of the narrative set. On the other hand all the insane stuff going on today in the world of black technology and information gathering — true espionage, y’know? — feels to me like it contains the roots of a new mythology; a new set of stories and superstitions waiting to become religion. Go look into James Bridle’s “new aesthetic” for a glimpse of what I mean. I feel as though Britain in particular sits at a very interesting crossroads between the mythology of the past (still affectionately clung to) and the suprastitions (new word! new word!) of the future; currently regarded with suspicion and expectation in equal measure.
Anyway, I’m woolgathering here. I guess I just think if anyone’s fit to muddle through that glorious processor — chomping stories from speculative sci-fi future to exaggerated history — it’s probably poor frazzled old Pete Wisdom.
Actually, I’ve just launched a new webcomic which deals with some of this stuff, albeit in a very different way. It’s free, it’s weekly, it’s called “Disenchanted,” and it’s based at www.disenchantedcomic.com. Highly recommended. Because I’m just that shameless.
Also, are there any other places in the Marvel U that you’d like to take Legion before you end your run?
Ha. I don’t think this is quite what you had in mind, but I’d love for him and Ruth to go back to that Milkshake bar where they had their first proper date, just before their ill-fated trip to the moon. They deserve a couple of hours without threat or weirdness or action, those poor adorable dweebs.
Won’t happen though. Sorry.
But — maybe something like it. Something a bit special. I’m not completely heartless.
BlindDan is up next with a question about “X-Men Legacy’s” numbering and a special anniversary issue coming up.
The significance of “X-Men: Legacy” #25 also being #300 and your final issue of the series seems like it might be important. With “Legacy” heading into its last 7 issues, what kind of cool stuff do you have planned for the last issue of your run?
Hm. I lose track of what’s been solicited and what hasn’t at this point, so I’m not touching the whole numbering thing with a bargepole — sorry. They’d totally fire me. Send help. They watch me while I sleep.
As for what’s coming up in the last issue. HAHAHA. C’mon.
Let’s just say — and, really, truly, this shouldn’t be a surprise by now — it will not end how you expect. And I positively refuse to restore the bloody status quo.
Next up, ConfernallyEfused wants to know more about David’s trust issues and his relationships with others.
I’m fascinated by David’s relationship with Blindfold, as he seems to lie to her slightly less than he does everyone else, which seems to engender a certain bond. It got me thinking, does Legion actually completely trust anybody other than himself? How much does he actually see people as people rather than pawns?
I’ll go you one better — does David completely trust anybody including himself? That, in a nutshell, is the question which has defined the latter half of the Legion/Legacy story. I’m not sure I could satisfactorily answer it in a way which wouldn’t take a long time — no more than David could, anyway — but it’s something which the final arc is very engaged with.
But yes, touching on your first point: David clearly has a special place in his complicated lexicon of trust and reliance when it comes to Ruth. As I’ve said before, they’re both broken in almost perfectly opposite ways. When they’re together, things feel better. Does he trust her…? My feeling is that he trusts her to be honest and morally right. The problem, of course, is that sometimes he doesn’t want that. Hence those occasions when he’s been guilty of keeping her at arms’ length.
As to whether he sees people as pawns — I don’t think it’s that. It’s more about the trust thing we’ve just touched on. If you know you need somebody’s help but you don’t feel you can trust them to willingly give it, or to do so in the best way, do you still ask? Or do you just take?
David’s journey, in part, has been about realizing that you’ll get the most out of people when you do the former rather than the latter.
JimTheTroll wants to know more about Legion’s powerset and how it’s been affected by the Pyrrhic.
Legion exhibits a ton of cool powers, but with his mind broken from the Uncanny X-Men’s psychic bomb, are some of them now gone for good?
Oooh, good question. And one which will be pretty explicitly answered by the end of #20. Stayed tuned. Sorry I can’t say more right now.
Finally, Paul closes out this week’s X-Position with a question about possible plans for the end of the series.
Question about your final issues of the series, here! Sometimes, writers try to put characters back where they started at the end of a run, to leave the toys back where they found them with minor changes. “X-Men: Legacy” never seemed like the type of book to do that. How will Legion be changed in terms of his role in the Marvel Universe by the end of your run?
Heh. Again — sorry — I can’t answer that directly. As I said above, I’m not going to play the “back to the status quo” game, so don’t worry about that. Of course it’s entirely possible (even likely, some might argue) that somewhere down the line someone will need this character to be back in the “Powerful But Insane Split Personality Kid In A Coma Who Sometimes Wakes Up And Causes Stories To Happen” place where we first found him. In which case, that’s cool. I’m telling my version of his saga, and I happen to believe that stories can’t be regarded as stories unless they have endings. Hence the whole “series of serials” modular arc thing I’ve waffled about before. Of course the beauty of endings is that they can also be beginnings, so — heh — I’m not going to speculate about what might come in the aftermath of my run, immediate or otherwise. (I know, I’m being infuriating. I’d apologize again but I’m basically horrible.)
Special thanks to Si Spurrier for joining X-Position this week!
Next week, Brian Wood returns to X-Position in the aftermath of “Battle of the Atom” and the conclusion of his acclaimed “Ultimate Comics X-Men” run. Got a question for Brian about “X-Men” or “Ultimate X-Men?” Go ahead and send your questions over via e-mail with the subject line “X-Position or in a 140 character question via Twitter. Either way, make sure those questions are in by Friday! Do it to it!