Massive spoilers for Legion beyond this point! Venture forth at your own risk!
This week’s Legion episode shed light on a lot of questions we’ve had all season, especially concerning the mysterious Devil with Yellow Eyes. I mean, it was Lenny the whole time? Whaaaaa? But among all the many revelations we witnessed this week, the show seemed to confirm a long-held fan theory about the Devil’s true comic book identity: it’s the Shadow King.“But wait a minute,” you’re probably asking. ”Who’s that? And did they ever actually say the name ‘Shadow King’ in this episode?” Okay, no, technically they didn’t. But come on. At this point, it’s pretty obvious if you know your comic book history. And if you don’t, you’d better get comfy and start calling me “Clarissa,” because I’m about to explain it all to you!
Like all good comic book baddies, the Shadow King’s true origin is shrouded in mystery. More accurately, it keeps getting retconned the farther along you get through Marvel canon. In his first appearance in a 1979 issue of Uncanny X-Men, he manifested as the Egyptian telepath Amahl Farouk, who ran the thieves’ syndicate in Cairo (the one that Storm used to work for, as a matter of fact!) and who lost a duel against Professor X.
As the character kept reappearing to possess the bodies of other mutants, it became clear that he was actually a darker, more nefarious entity, one that’s existed on the Astral Plane since the dawn of time.
Eventually the Shadow King crossed paths with David Haller, aka Legion, the illegitimate son of Professor X. While David was being treated for dissociative identity disorder on Muir Island, the Shadow King possessed his body and used his powerful psionic abilities to increase the amount of hatred and violence in the world and feed on all the negative energy.
The X-Men and X-Factor eventually defeated him in the ensuing “Psi-War,” but the battle put David into a coma, and the Shadow King naturally returned a few years later to wreak havoc somewhere else. You know, as super villains are wont to do. They would be so iconic if they didn’t keep coming back, right?
FX‘s Legion isn’t an exact adaptation of the comic book source material, of course, but there’s already plenty of evidence to support the idea that the Devil is actually the Shadow King. Thanks to this week’s episode, we know that it’s an ancient creature with incredible power that’s tethered itself to David like a parasite; we also know from last week’s episode that it primarily hangs out in the Astral Plane. And remember David’s childhood beagle? You know, the one who never really existed and who was actually the Devil the whole time? Its name was “King.”
Also, for a while the Shadow King liked to gorge himself until the bodies he possessed were morbidly obese, as he did with Karma in The New Mutants. This might explain why Legion chose to depict him in his true form as such a large caricature of a being. (The sallow prosthetic chin still reminds me a lot of Mojo, though, if I’m being honest.)
Some fans even like to point out that his tattered outfit vaguely resembles Amahl Farouk’s sense of fashion, although personally that feels like a stretch to me; after all, the World’s Angriest Boy In The World wears the same thing. But he is often depicted as having yellow eyes in the comics, too, at least! And boy, does he love to mess with people’s heads a whole lot.
This feels like an open-and-shut case. All we need now is verbal confirmation, but at this point, we kind of don’t even need it, do we?
What do you make of this theory, fellow Legion fans? Let us know in the comments below!
Images: FX Networks, Marvel Comics