The Many Faces of "Legion"

"Legion," the angels-gone-rogue action-fantasy movie directed by Scott Stewart and starring Dennis Quaid, Paul Bettany, Kate Walsh, and Kevin Durand, opens in theatres January 22, but IDW Publishing has already wrapped up a four-part weekly miniseries that was designed to give fans a taste of what's to come. "Legion: Prophets" is an official prelude to the film, written by director Stewart and "Silent Hill: Sinner's Reward" scribe Tom Waltz. Each issue is illustrated by a different artist - Alberto Muriel for #1, Jose Holder for #2, Francisco Paronzini for #3, and Michael Gaydos on art for #4. The trade paperback is in stores now, and CBR News caught up with co-writer Waltz for an overview of the project and what could tempt a new generation of angels to fall.

Both the film and the comic examines the effects of a new war in Heaven on the earthly plane, with a disaffected cadre of angels taking possession of much of Earth's population. While the film takes place almost exclusively at an American truckstop diner, the first issue of "Legion: Prophets" is set in Israel, and the remaining three installments catch up on the apocalypse's effects elsewhere in the world. "In issue #1 of our series, readers meet Jacob Heifitz, a twenty-six-year old Israeli research student, as well as Sami Saama, a sixteen-year-old would-be Palestinian suicide bomber - two men from opposite sides of the tracks, so to speak, who quickly find themselves playing similar and highly important roles in the apocalypse - Jacob is 'The Theologian' and Sami 'The Soldier,'" Waltz said of the first two prophets. The titles he refers to represent the prophetic role or specialty the characters embody. "Also present in the premiere issue are Uriel and Sharae, warrior archangels from the Dark World, who are part of God's Dogs of Heaven, perhaps best described here as an angelic special forces unit.

"All these characters - both human and archangel alike - don't actually have roles in the feature film, but are instead alluded to by characters in the movie, including the archangel Michael (played by Paul Bettany)," Waltz explained. "Our comic provides an exclusive expansion on some of the ideas and themes presented in the film and, perhaps, a hint at things to come should there be a movie sequel."

The remaining prophets are Miko "The Guardian" Hogosha, whom Waltz descibes as "a $3000-an-hour modern day geisha;" Maggie "The Code Breaker" Winters, "a middle-aged Midwestern housewife, who also happens to be a puzzle-solving prodigy;" and Alan "The Voice" McCormick, "a fringe radio host whose crazy, conspiratorial rants and raves are about to prove true," the writer said, noting that McCormick is also the series' narrator.

"Each of these people have been chosen as prophets to protect the only hope for humanity in the apocalypse - a special child, who is yet to be born (for more on that, you have to see the movie!)," Waltz continued. "As the apocalypse strikes and angelic possession begins to plague the planet (again, see the movie!), all five of these seemingly ordinary folks quickly find out they have special gifts and powers that set them apart from other humans... as well as a unifying mission they've all been given hints to through strange (and sometimes horrific) visions. These are standalone issues, though the fourth issue does feature all five prophets. And did I mention these are not all of the prophets in 'Legion' lore? Hint, hint."

As to the device of using a different artist for each issue - the aforementioned Alberto Muriel, Jose Holder, Francisco Paronzini, and Michael Gaydos - Waltz said that this complemented the idea that each issue stands alone and tells a distinct story. "We presented a number of samples from a wide-variety of artists to Scott [Stewart, "Legion" director] and he chose the four whose styles he felt best represented the characters and the stories being told in each issue," the writer said. "All four of these talented guys, combined with the fine work by colorists Ruben Cubiles and Jon Alderink, brought unique perspectives to the table, highlighting through their different art styles the diversity of the cast of players."

When the worldwide angelic invasion begins, the prophets are immediately thrust into the middle of the action, though the full import of their quest is not immediately revealed to them. "As the archangel Uriel explains in the first issue of 'Legion: Prophets,' 'Now the weak-willed shall fall to angelic possession, and they will annihilate the few who choose to resist.' Our prophets, obviously not so weak-willed, are able to fight off the possession, but immediately find themselves getting 'special attention' from the possessed masses," Waltz explained. "Along with the Child, the prophets are the prime targets for the attacking angels."

As to the broader story of the movie and comics, Waltz told CBR that "the movie highlights the struggle between Gabriel and Michael - the dutiful son versus the rebellious son."

"Though we allude to these two in the comic book, our story - at least from the angelic perspective - features a similar conflict, in this case between archangels Uriel and Sharae," Waltz continued. "Sharae, much like Gabriel, sees the Dogs of Heaven as soldiers first and only - sworn to serve, no matter the orders they are given. She is very much indicative of the old saying, 'Mine is not to question why, mine is but to do or die.' Uriel, on the other hand, is at odds with this unconditional subservience (and may have a few screws loose, as well), and begins to question God's loyalty to His angels. As a result, a civil war is brewing in the Dark World, one that Sharae hopes to stop, Uriel wants to bring... and that hinges on the battle between Michael and Gabriel in the movie (so make sure you see the movie!)."

Waltz said that what excites him most about "Legion" is the epic nature of apocalyptic action-horror. "It's great to play in this particular genre because once cosmic forces are involved, there's no holding back on what you can do or show in the story. Heaven is, quite literally, the limit!" the writer said. "And what's a more common theme than the apocalypse, or End Days, or Armageddon, or Ragnarok, or whatever you want to call it? Just about every culture's got a version, and they're all ripe for fantastic interpretation. As a creator, you're truly only limited by your imagination, which makes for a fun and scary ride. The main challenge tends to be balancing the over-the-top action and destruction inherent to this type of story with an underlying theme that, hopefully, provides some meaning to the chaos. It makes for a much more satisfying read when the conflict taking place goes deeper than just annihilation for annihilation's sake."

The "Legion: Prophets" trade paperback is in stores this week.

Spawn #301 Preview Showcases McFarlane, Crain & Alexander's Art

More in Comics