Thursday, December 1, 2016

David Selby joins the X-Men universe

David Selby has joined the cast of FX's upcoming X-MEN spinoff series, LEGION, according to his official website.

LEGION is scheduled to premiere on FX in February, but it's not yet clear what role Selby will be playing. The television show's IMDb listing has the cast and crew for three episodes listed, but does not yet include Selby's credit. Hopefully, producers will recall his roles in DARK SHADOWS and FALCON CREST and let him play a badguy, which is something he doesn't do much these days.

David Selby and Hamish Linklater in LEGION.
But the real question on the minds of fans is "How does this fit into Fox's X-MEN movie series?" It's easy to dismiss this show as a one-off but, since the success of THE AVENGERS a few years back, every studio has been trying to build its own "shared universe." Fox's DEADPOOL film has breathed new life into its X-MEN series, and it feels unlikely that the studio won't try to connect these movies to LEGION in some tangible manner. (If they're successful, it would certainly give the studio a leg-up on Marvel, whose television shows feel adrift from its cinematic offerings.)

And the connection to LEGION and the X-MEN universe is fascinating. The title character, a mutant named David Haller, is the son of X-Men founder Charles Xavier. In the comics, he's incredibly powerful and seriously disturbed. Haller was introduced in 1985 in Marvel's NEW MUTANTS comic, which featured a younger class of students at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. I was an avid fan of this series at the time, but was both perplexed and amazed at the book's creative choices during these years. After more than a year of solid (if undistinguished) storytelling, editors paired writer Chris Claremont with artist Bill Sienkiewicz, creating a hybrid of superhero stories and arthouse comic. It's impossible to imagine that anybody was ready for that, but the book certainly had my attention.

Legion, as drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz.
Sienkiewicz was fresh off a head-turning run on MOON KNIGHT. Initially tagged as a Neal Adams clone, he began to expand his style on that book ... a style which exploded onto the pages on NEW MUTANTS in a way no mainstream comic had ever seen. Sienkiewicz rejected traditional panel layouts and line art in favor of a style that could barely even be described as expressionistic. It looked more like a psychic nightmare than a superhero comic. It was masterful work by a guy not even 30 years old at the time.

His art proved to be a problem for Marvel artists following in his footsteps, though. Many of his creations for the book were intensely idiosyncratic ... NEW MUTANTS characters such as Legion, Warlock and the Demon Bear looked utterly ridiculous when drawn by anyone else. It didn't take long for these characters to fall out of the ongoing story line after Sienkiewicz left the building.

While Sienkiewicz's style will also be an ill fit for television, the trailer below suggests it's still going to be a pretty nutty series.

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