X-Men Legacy #20: Legion Becomes Gestalt
One of the best comic writers of the last couple of years has been Si Spurrier, and he shows us why once again in X-Men Legacy #20, the continuing story of David Haller, the son of Charles Xavier whose mind is made up of a legion of separate personalities, each with their own superpower, all vying for control of his body at any given time. Haller has been captured by a vengeful Agent Brand of S.W.O.R.D., who is teaming with the equally vengeful Aarkus the Aetheric, both of whom have a bone to pick with him – although it's a pretty big bone. It seems one aspect of David's mind – one disguised as a shiny gold version of Charles Xavier, has escaped his mind, possessed an uber-powerful jerkwad, and is now polluting humanity with hatred for each other… well, much more than the usual hate pollution. So now, Aarkus is inflicting upon David a Shadow Phoenix, an entity out to kill him.
What's David's response? Well, a brilliant internal monologue taking the piss out of the very concept of death as he fights to hold onto his life.
Spurrier's scripting is relentlessly entertaining, even when it's a complete mindfuck like it is in Six-Gun Gorilla, a series that hooked me by being called Six-Gun Gorilla but eventually became a brain-bending exploration of dealing with loss. That quality has been crucial to making readers like a character like David, who until now has just been sort of a crackplot device. Now, we're in his mind as he struggles for his life and, in the process of realizing the scattered entities in his mind are all just aspects of himself, he also realizes he has to stop trying to order them around like a tyrant and become one with them – and we thrill to that. It's somewhat of a 'holy shit' moment as he finally lets the others come to him instead of hunting them down to steal their powers when he needs them, and as it happens, he realizes the word for that is gestalt… and damn if this isn't a New Codename Event. David had previously taken offense to the moniker of "Legion" that he'd been branded with, thinking it akin to referring to an epileptic superhero as Spasmo, but in a triumphant moment against the Shadow Phoenix, he declares that "every human is a legion in need of a leader." A brilliant sentiment, preceded by an amusing one: "Every brain is a chorus. Every gloopy bundle of mindmeat is a ridiculous fucking* super hero team-up waiting to happen." That's what Spurrier does – he marries the sardonic with the profound.
*it's possible this word should actually be 'goddamn' or something else that needs to be replaced with Shift-TopRowOfYourKeyboardMashing.
After the fight, it's revealed that the Shadow Phoenix doesn't actually exist, and it was all a big therapy session, as it turns out that Brand and Aarkus weren't really vengeful, but rather playing the role of therapists in order to shape David up to go after Xavier Gold and his dirty pool on Earth. The final battle between David Haller and the spectre of all the worst aspects of his sainted father, which will be a fitting end to a series we'll hate to see go. But we all knew going in that a book with this guy in the lead role likely wouldn't last long, but he was the perfect fit for a book called X-Men Legacy and it made it past 20 issues, and that's a success. I'm even getting used to artist Tan Eng Huat making Blindfold look really greasy all the time, because he goes all-out imagination-style when portraying the chaos in David's mind, and that's to be respected. Plus, we know that Spurrier is going to do amazing things with his new X-Force book come 2014.
But there's still time to catch it while he's doing amazing things with David Freakin' Haller, of all people. X-Men Legacy ain't over yet, and the conclusion promises to be richly entertaining.