David Haller, the son of Charles “Professor X” Xavier, is one of the most complicated characters ever created in comics.
A bold claim to be sure, but this guy has the creds to back it up. Legion, as he’s better known, is known in many circles as the most powerful mutant in Marvel’s world, as he possesses a seemingly limitless power set. But there’s a catch. David suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, or as it’s better known, multiple personalities — and there’s a different persona attached to every one of his powers. In the past, these personalities have been numbered as high as one thousand, but more recently, they were described as “about 200.” Not only can he manifest new personalities and powers spontaneously, he’s also been seen to absorb the powers and personalities of others.
With so many possibilities and 32 years’ worth of stories, some of those personalities have proven awfully weird. In honor of his new TV series on FX, here are 15 of Legion’s strangest personas.
15. Johnny Gomorrah
Legion, aka the shirt-averse owner of ridiculously distinctive hair, has a huge number of incredible mind powers. They include telepathy, telekinesis, shapeshifting, personality/consciousness absorption, pyrokinetics, time travel, time manipulation, teleportation, reality shaping, and many more.
He also possesses some truly odd powers — powers that seemingly serve no useful purpose. One of these shows up in the pages of the first volume of X-Men Legacy, issue #249. While using a unique device constructed by Dr. Nemesis, he dials up the power of one “Johnny Gomorrah.” And it turns out that Johnny is very appropriately named.
Johnny Gomorrah’s power is to instantly transform anyone or anything into salt. As in, one minute a person is standing there, and then at Johnny/David’s touch, that person is transformed into a biblically literal “pillar of salt.” What’s more, David himself takes on the appearance of a human made of salt while wielding this power.
The personality known as Skinsmith has only made one appearance to-date, but it was a memorable one.
In some of his most recent adventures, David set out to try and realize his father’s dream for mutantkind, but using methods that are purely his own. To that end, he embarked on a mission to find those who would harm mutants and take them “off the game board”, while also protecting new mutants. On one such occasion, David was attempting to help young mutant twins who were in grave danger, when the X-Men showed up.
Assuming that Legion was the source of the danger, the team tried to get him to hand the kids over. He refused, and the hotheaded Chamber jumped in to bring the confrontation to a swift conclusion. If you’re not familiar, the bottom half of Chamber’s mouth is missing, where he blasts “psionic flames” at his enemies. He attempted to do the same to David, and that’s when Skinsmith manifested, creating skin to envelop the missing parts of Chamber’s face.
Here’s something you may not know. Not only can Legion manifest new personalities seemingly at any time, he has another peculiar power all his own. Similar to Rogue, he can absorb another person’s abilities and memories; the difference is, he doesn’t stop there. David absorbs the person’s entire psyche, essentially everything about the person but their physical body. And that new persona becomes another of his multiple personalities.
It was during one such event, when David’s darker personalities had rebelled and absorbed the mutant Karma, that the next bizarre personality came forth. When Magik used her powers to enter David’s mind on her own, a new personality calling itself Absence came forth. It was not human, but an alien or demonic kind of creature.
As Magik attacked, Absence appeared and took control of David. Its odd ability was to drain others of “heat and love.” Seems kind of random, no? Why those two things? Heat and love can both refer to passion, but as targets of a destructive superpower, they feel disjointed. Nevertheless, it’s creepy as all hell.
Once upon a time, one of David Haller’s personalities used reality-altering powers to change the world. (We’ll get back to her later.) In this world was an island with a massive citadel upon it called Fortress X. It was home to the last of mutantkind, all of whom were real X-Men whose memories had been altered to suit this new world. The story was published under the crossover title Age of X.
When reality was restored to normal and Fortress X was no more, six of David’s alternate personalities escaped into the real world. With their own bodies — thanks to all that reality-changing mischief — they wreaked havoc in an attempt to kill David so they could break free from him once and for all. We’ll look at several of these escaped personas in the coming entries, but first up is Endgame.
Endgame was not a flesh-and-blood person, but a gigantic, living suit of armor. This towering creature could adapt to any kind of attack thrown at it, and rest assured, the X-Men threw plenty. Endgame was ultimately killed by a ploy between David and Magneto, who detonated multiple bombs to bring the monstrosity down.
11. Max Kelvin
When David was being interrogated and tortured by a Japanese crime family, he had to dig deep to gain access to the powers he needed. It took two tries, but finally, he managed to gain purchase on “crotchety old Max Kelvin.” During the first attempt, Max actually managed to chase him off by using his power to create plasma flames.
All of this took place in an imaginary prison that David had constructed within his mind called the “Qortex Complex.” It was a conceptual way for him to gain control over his many personas. The “prisoners” there included Max Kelvin, who was one of many targets that David attempted to gain control of on this day.
After a self-made confidence boost, David managed to wrangle Max into submission and use his fiery abilities to escape his bonds. Max’s oddest quirk was that his eyes protruded from his head when he activated his powers; thankfully, the same can’t be said of David when he took control.
Another of the personalities to escape into the real world (see #12) was Chain. Chain’s power is similar to that of Multiple Man, aka Jamie Madrox, in that he can apparently create an unlimited number of copies of himself.
Where they differ is in their methodology. Madrox “creates” his duplicates, which he calls “dupes,” by basically replicating himself the way one might make photocopies. Chain, on the other hand, transforms existing people into copies of himself. A mere touch from Chain is all it takes to change another person into a duplicate (think: Agent Smith from The Matrix). And there’s a bonus: according to later issues of X-Men Legacy, each time Chain creates a duplicate, every one of those copies is armed with a unique new weapon.
Legion himself used this power after reabsorbing Chain, changing Rogue into a duplicate as part of a ruse against an enemy. The only way to stop Chain — or Legion, if using Chain’s power — is to stop the original that all of the copies are based on.
In the early days, David’s alternate personalities were all more or less human. But as time went on and writers took more and more artistic liberties with the character, the personas became ever more bizarre, taking on forms that were animalistic, monstrous, or fantastic. Or maybe even weird amalgamations.
Delphic was a persona with blue skin who could truthfully answer “any three questions” for anyone who asked. When taking on this personality, David’s skin turned blue and his speech took on an otherworldly quality. Although it was never stated in the comics, this combination of features led to an obvious conclusion.
Delphic was a genie/oracle figure. According to Legion, there was “nothing Delphic doesn’t know.” Why David never shifted into Delphic’s personality to discover who shot JFK, or what goes on at Area 51, or what the meaning of life is… seems like a honking big oversight. Or perhaps a writer’s conceit that just wasn’t all that well thought out.
It’s hard to get much weirder than Mycolojester, a plant creature in (more or less) humanoid form. Yes, you read that right. Somewhere between Swamp Thing and Groot, this creature-from-the-brain-lagoon had the singular power of emitting toxic spores. Obviously, this fatal turn of events is a desperate, final solution to any fight.
In the pages of X-Men Legacy, David Haller develops a romantic relationship with (spoiler alert) Ruth Aldine, aka Blindfold. But using him the entire time was her mutant-hating brother Luca, who was possessing the dead body of a young boy. It was all part of a plot to get inside the mutant school so he could get close enough to his sister to kill her.
While engaged in a fight against Legion, Luca boasted how he was capable of seeing all future possibilities and knew what personalities and powers David would call on. This proved to be true when David took on Mycolojester’s powers. Luca was prepared, forcing David to choose another form.
Going back to the events of Age of X, in the end, it turned out that the whole thing was created and caused by a new personality of Legion’s. This female persona’s physical appearance was modeled after the scientist who spent countless hours working with, and experimenting on, David — Moira MacTaggart. This facsimile called herself “Moira” as well, to increase David’s trust of her.
Moira was a self-preservation mechanism for David, a personality created to protect him at a time when he and his hundreds of personas needed it most. David was being “treated” at the time by Doctor Nemesis for his dissociative disorder, under Professor Xavier’s oversight. Nemesis’ method of healing David’s mind was an extremely aggressive approach: he and Xavier would delete David’s other personalities one by one.
Retaliating against those actions, Moira created Fortress X and put David in place there as the mutants’ greatest, most celebrated hero. But some of the mutants there, whose memories had been altered to fit the new circumstances, knew something was off about their universe almost immediately, and when Xavier was found, he revealed the truth and helped them defeat Moira, returning the world to normal.
Described by David himself as “one of the heavy hitters,” this obese personality appeared in David’s mind in the form of a Sumo wrestler. There, he possessed almost superhuman strength, making him a very difficult persona for David to take powers from.
But super-strength was not Origamist’s power in the real world. There, he could “fold reality,” allowing him to alter the very structure of things, from the smallest of microbes to entire worlds of the grandest scale. He could also create anything he could think of out of thin air, and travel through space and time at any distance. (No wonder he was considered a heavy hitter.) David used Origamist’s powers to escape from the X-Men once, and to knock Chamber down a few notches.
Originally taking the form of a gold-skinned, beast-like creature, the personality called Fiend terrified all other personalities in Legion’s mind before David himself even encountered him. Eventually, Fiend morphed into the visage of David’s own father, the recently deceased Charles Xavier — only still with the gold skin.
Fiend made a habit of taunting David, calling him a disappointment of a son and deflating his ego. Unfortunately, ego was a crucial ingredient in David being able to overpower the other personas in his psyche so he could take over their powers. In the end, David wound up needing Fiend’s powers of precognition enough that he was willing to make a deal: Fiend would get one free minute’s control of David’s body without any interference from David himself, at a time of his choosing.
4. Susan in Sunshine
Another of the personalities to escape from David’s mind into the real world (covered back in entry #12) was this cute little girl named Susan in Sunshine.
This wasn’t a case of some evil entity taking on the guise of a little girl to trick our heroes. Susan really did have the personality, temperament, and form of a child around the age of five or six. Her power was to amplify others’ emotions, even if they were latent, unexpressed emotions (evidenced when her influence caused Gambit and Frenzy to passionately kiss). Once expressed, she could turn those emotions into pure energy.
Susan in Sunshine stopped her attack when her beloved doll was broken apart by Frenzy. She became horribly sad, until David appeared and offered to absorb her back into his mind, where her doll could be remade like new. He did, and it was. She was last seen playing happily in her Qortex Complex cell.
3. Tyrannix the Abominoid
You want to talk about weird? Tyrannix the Abominoid originally presented as a disgusting, multi-tentacled Cthulu-type creature inside David’s mind. He was small and terrifying, and David was forced to flee from him inside a mental maze. Tyrannix possessed telepathic powers, so he could hear David’s thoughts, making it a relatively short chase.
After a boost of confidence in the real world, David turned the tables on his slimy pursuer. Overcoming Tyrannix with ease, David soon grabbed the creature’s tentacles and fashioned him into a backpack, which the David avatar in his mind started to wear at all times so he could keep constant hold on those telepathic powers. Tyrannix, for his part, regularly made hilariously snarky commentary in David’s ear, just out of spite for his new lot in life.
In X-Men Legacy #3, Legion was taken prisoner by the Yamaugichi-Kai Clan, a Japanese mafia family. These goofballs spoke hilariously bad English — or in the words of Legacy‘s witty writer Simon Spurrier, “the shouty Google Translation goons” — but proved to be fairly effective captors.
Searching inside himself for someone that could help, he fumbled two attempts at other personalities/powers before landing on Chronodon. Abandoning all concepts of humanistic personalities here, the comic’s writer and artist plunged into absurdism. Chronodon, as his name suggests (if you’re insane), was a dinosaur with a big clock for a face. Hard to say what kind of dino it was; at times it resembled a T-Rex, at others it looked more like something larger, maybe an Apatosaurus.
Chronodon’s power was to manipulate time. David set a trap for the big dinosaur in his mind, but it didn’t work out, forcing him to keep looking for a personality he could overpower. He was later able to use Chronodon’s power to steal a few tender moments with Blindfold in the middle of an apocalypse.
1. Bleeding Image
When it comes to “WTF,” you can’t get much more out there than a being whose superpower is to be a living voodoo doll.
Bleeding Image appeared on just one page of X-Men Legacy #252, but his impact was felt throughout the rest of the issue. He went toe-to-toe with Rogue, besting her with his power of pain transferal. The way his powers worked is that Bleeding Image hurt himself, and his opponent felt it.
Immediately after they met, he stabbed himself in the shoulder, and Rogue felt the pain. It deterred her briefly, but she trudged on. After uttering the famous “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here” quote from Dante’s Inferno, Bleeding Image unbuttoned his vest to reveal a bomb strapped to his chest. The blast destroyed him completely, and nearly took Rogue’s life as well.
For sheer commitment to his particular brand of crazy, we have to award Bleeding Image top marks as Legion’s most insane personality.
Which of Legion’s personalities stand out the most to you? Which do you want to see make their debut on the small screen? Let us know in the comments.
Legion premieres tonight at 10pm on FX.