Legacy Virus

Legacy Virus

In the fictional Marvel Universe, the Legacy Virus was a devastating plague that ripped through the mutant population, killing hundreds and mutating so that it affected baseline humans as well.

The Legacy Virus storyline ran through various Marvel comics titles from 1993 to 2001.


The Legacy Virus was actually a viroid and was released by Stryfe, a terrorist from approximately 2,000 years in the future. It originally existed in two forms, Legacy-1 and Legacy-2, but later mutated into a third form, Legacy-3; all were airborne agents.

Legacy-1 and Legacy-2 searched for a target organism's "X-factor," the sequence of mutant genes that gave a mutant his/her superpowers. If it did not find an activated X-factor in the target, the viroid would die off, leaving the person completely unaffected. If, however, it did detect the X-factor, it would begin inserting introns (junk DNA sequences) into the transcription codings of the victim's mutant RNA, the process commonly being triggered after the patient used their powers for the first time after contracting the disease. The result was a major compromise of the replication and transcription process so disruptive as to eventually render the body incapable of creating healthy cells, ultimately resulting in the death of the victim. Prior to death, the viroid causes its host's powers to flare out of control.

Legacy-1 attacked general transcription and replication of all cells, a messy and non-selective process that resulted in a condition akin to a fast-replicating cancer. This is the version that infected Illyana "Magik" Rasputin, sister of Piotr "Colossus" Rasputin. Legacy-2, however, was much closer to Stryfe's original template and more in tune to his desire to stir a species war between humans and mutants. Its attacks were selective, working only on the X-factor genes. The net result was that a victim would eventually lose control of his superhuman powers. In addition to developing at a far slower rate than Legacy-1, victims of Legacy-2 developed skin lesions, fever, cough and overall weakness (symptoms displayed by the telepathic X-Man Revanche). The slow nature of Legacy-2 is why St. John "Pyro" Allerdyce survived for years following his initial infection.

Legacy-3 was a complete fluke, accidentally created in the body of the mutant woman known as Infectia. Her powers allowed her to scan and visualize the genetic structure of a living being and then alter it according to her own whims; she was essentially a walking genetics laboratory. Infectia had herself been infected with the Legacy Virus, which her own powers tried to stave off. In doing so, they caused a replication error in the Legacy-2 viroid that was killing her. The viroid's conditioning—to "not" infect if no X-gene was found in the host—was stripped. When Henry "Beast" McCoy opened Infectia's containment chamber in an act of compassion to allow her one final look at the night sky, he inadvertently released this new "free agent" strain. Legacy-3 was capable of infecting any living being that fit within the parameters of its general original template; that is, hominids only, not canines, felines, etc. Moira MacTaggert, long-time ally of the mutant X-Men and one of Earth's top geneticists, seemed to have been the first non-mutant human to be infected with Legacy-3. She passed on the data she had gathered to McCoy, before being killed by an explosion at her research station caused by the shapeshifting terrorist Mystique. McCoy was able to devise a cure, though one that had a price; the virus had first been released by the death of the first victim, and the release of the cure would have the same effect. Colossus snuck into McCoy's lab and injected the cure into himself, without telling anyone, so no one would lose someone dear to them as he had.

Mystique had also created (or commissioned the creation of) a strain of the Legacy viroid that "only" attacked non-mutant humans, leaving mutants completely untouched.


The Legacy Virus was based on a virus created by Apocalypse in the distant future, which was intended to kill the remaining non-mutants. At the time that this alternate version of Apocalypse was killed, the virus had not been perfected, and much like Legacy-3, it targeted all humans indiscriminately. As a result, this virus was never deployed, until Stryfe acquired it and altered it for his own purposes.

During the "X-Cutioner's Song" crossover, the villain Stryfe gave Mister Sinister a canister that he claimed contained 2,000 years worth of genetic material from the Summers bloodline. When Gordon Lefferts, a scientist working for Sinister, opened the canister (in "X-Force" (vol. 1) #18, January 1993) after Stryfe was apparently killed by Cable, they found nothing inside. Far worse than that, the canister actually contained a plague, Stryfe's "legacy" to the world.

When Colossus' sister Illyana fell ill and died of the Legacy Virus in "Uncanny X-Men" #303 (August 1993), he left the X-Men and joined Magneto's Acolytes, but later returned. His teammate Beast developed a cure for the virus, but in order for it to be quickly dispersed, a mutant had to sacrifice himself. Colossus did not want any more people to suffer his sister's fate, so he injected himself with the Legacy cure and activated his mutant powers, transforming his body into organic steel. This "supercharged" the Legacy cure and simultaneously killed him and stopped the spread of the Legacy virus (in "Uncanny X-Men" #390, March 2001).

Much later (Astonishing X-Men #4, August 2004), it was revealed Colossus had been resurrected by alien technology and was being used as a test subject for an experimental formula that would reverse mutations; he was eventually rescued by the X-Men, however, and rejoined the team.

Unfortunately, this rapid cure had unforeseen geopolitical effects. Thousands of Legacy-infected mutants and mutates had been quarantined on the island nation of Genosha, which was controlled by Magneto at the time. The instant cure gave Magneto a vast army overnight and allowed him to begin carrying out his plans for world conquest in the "Eve of Destruction" crossover.

In "X-Factor" (vol. 3) #10, it was revealed that Singularity Investigations was creating a virus designed to kill mutants. While Jamie Madrox referred to this as the Legacy Virus, it is unclear whether Singularity is actually recreating Stryfe's virus, creating what is to later actually be Stryfe's virus, or merely engineering a new one with a similar purpose.

In "X-Force" #7, The Vanisher is seen to be in possession of a large stockpile of vials containing the Legacy Virus. Cyclops orders X-Force to recover them at all costs.

Infection list

Listed below in alphabetical order are the Mutants (with their powers) infected by the Legacy Virus:

Other versions

Ultimate Legacy Virus

Created by Nick Fury, Beast is held by SHIELD to try to find a cure for it. But there are no recorded infections, yet. Bishop explains the Virus is another attempt by Fury to replicate the Super Soldier experiment that created Captain America, with a vital ingredient being Beast's blood. For all intents and purposes, the formula does turn normal humans into super-strong beings, but if it comes into contact with mutants it kills them, so Fury held Beast so he could find a cure, as Fury refuses to bring the project to his superiors without clearing the infection detail up.

In other media

TV Show

In "", a variation of the Legacy Virus was used in a brief storyline where it was the creation of Apocalypse, who had created the virus with the aid of Graydon Creed and the Friends of Humanity, infecting innocent people and claiming that mutants were the ones who had caused the plague. In an attempt to stop the plague, Bishop came back from the future to destroy Apocalypse's work before the virus could move on to mutants, but as a result vital antibodies that would allow the mutant race to survive future plagues were never created. Travelling back from even further in the future, Cable was able to come up with a compromise that allowed both Bishop and his missions' to succeed; although the plague never made the jump to mutants on a large-scale basis, Cable nevertheless ensured that Wolverine would be infected, thus creating the necessary antibodies while not killing any mutants thanks to Wolverine's healing factor.

Video game

In the video game "", a side mission includes saving the S.H.I.E.L.D. Omega Base Computer (which contains research data on the Legacy Virus) from being destroyed by 3 out of 5 Super Soldiers. This is one of the side missions that doesn't come up on the menu, and it is only possible to find the room containing it either by accident or if you knew it was there (this is located in the area when exiting the elevator to get to the elevator leading to the top of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Omega Base). If it is saved from being destroyed, its information will be used to make a cure several years later that will save the Mutant Race from possible extinction (the final shot shows Cyclops getting the cure injected into him as Nightcrawler and Colossus are among the mutants identified in the line to get cured). If not, the Mutant Race may go extinct (the final shot shows that two of its known victims among the unnamed mutants are Colossus and Wolverine. It is unknown how Wolverine died of it because of his healing factor). Some players have become confused because Uatu shows them the terrible result of not doing a mission they did not even know existed.

External links

* [http://en.marveldatabase.com/Legacy_Virus Legacy Virus] at Marvel Wiki
* [http://panther.bsc.edu/~bassaf/quarantine/ Quarantine: The Legacy Virus Page]
* [http://www.mutanthigh.com/tech/legacy.html Mutatis Mutandis entry]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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