Marvel.com: Cullen Bunn and Greg Land talk about the joys of helming UNCANNY X-MEN, getting these characters to work together and the overall status of the X-Men coming out of Secret Wars.
Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the X-Men’s new status quo post-Secret Wars?
Cullen Bunn: Well, I think the “official” status quo is that t
he X-Men are no more. Something terrible has happened in the eight month gap between Secret Wars and UNCANNY X-MEN. We know it has something to do with the T-Mists and their impact on the mutant population, but there’s more to it than that. The world at large believes the X-Men are no more. We, of course, as readers are in on the secret. The X-Men are still alive and kicking, but they’ve changed in the wake of this hostile environment they’re facing. There will be more than a few mysteries remaining to be solved and that will happen along the way. In the meantime, there are still threats to mutantkind that must be addressed.
Marvel.com: How does this proactive team fit into that grand scheme?
Cullen Bunn: In times of crisis, different people react in different ways. Some might try to escape. Others might attempt to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm in a safe haven. The members of this group of X-Men, though, are unwilling to sit still. They believe that the enemies of mutants will use this time of trouble as a time of opportunity. Magneto’s group will take a more active role. They are not offering a safe haven. They are not striking from the shadows. Instead, they are making a statement—a warning—to those who might harm mutants. When we first started talking about this team, we landed on the idea that more terrible threats require a more terrible team of X-Men, and I think the stories we have planned represent that philosophy pretty well. Of course, you don’t have a team like this without a few conspiracies within the ranks. Some of the members—maybe all of the members—have differing agendas. How those plots and plans surface will be part of the fun.
Marvel.com: The team consists of Magneto, Psylocke, Sabretooth, Mystique. and Fantomex; all strong personalities with dark pasts. What keeps them together and on-mission?
Cullen Bunn: I think it’ll be interesting to watch this group of characters come together. Initially, not all of the characters you’ve seen announced are on the team. In fact, some of them may be working at cross purposes to the X-Men. The dynamic is definitely not going to be one of friendliness, and we’ll lean into that from the very beginning. As the team forms, though, we’ll learn a bit about why they are sticking together. Each member has his or her own reasons for siding with—and sticking with—Magneto.
Marvel.com: Cullen, you really got to focus in on Magneto in his solo book. How is it working with him in more of a team setting?
Cullen Bunn: Writing Magneto as part of a team took a little getting used to. I spent so much time with the character on his own [that] it could have been easy for me to turn this into a Magneto book. When I started this project, I detailed the motivations of each and every character. Some were more difficult than others. Surprisingly, Magneto was the most difficult! I think that is because this type of book is so different in tone and “mission statement” than what I wrote before. In a lot of ways, I went back to the drawing board on Magneto, because I wanted to approach him in the context of a team book.
I think I’ve managed to give each and every character plenty of room to shine. It’s funny. There are some of the characters I didn’t think I’d enjoy writing who have become personal favorites. That said, there are some aspects of the MAGNETO solo book that will carry over into this series, and there are moments with Magneto that I think fans of the solo book’s dark, noir vibe will really enjoy. There are scenes I’ve written that could have fit perfectly in the solo series.
Marvel.com: Can you talk about some of the threats this incredibly formidable and dangerous group will be going up against?
Cullen Bunn: You mean what threats will they face if they survive each other? I’ll admit, finding threats that can challenge this group can be tough. I don’t want to say too much, but in our first arc we’ll see a group of villains who haven’t gotten a lot of play recently. I love this first batch of villains, because they have such a unique look and an interesting set of powers. We’re updating them a little, making them a little meaner—and they were plenty mean already—and giving them a mission that is strange and insidious and creepy. After the first arc, you'll be seeing some classic villains—some with distinct ties to some of the cast—as well as some new threats.
Marvel.com: Greg, did you get to play much with these characters' designs?
Greg Land: With the new direction of this team a new visual statement was needed as well. The use of black as the team’s primary color sets a tone that things have changed and by using each character’s traditional colors as accents keeps them connected to their visual heritage. Two team members that have white as their primary color will keep their traditional looks with slight updating of their costumes.
Marvel.com: You’ve both done a good deal of work involving the X-Men. What keeps bringing you back for more?
Cullen Bunn: It’s pretty simple really: I love the X-Men. They were my favorite heroes when I was a kid. My dad and I collected X-Men comics together, and I know it would have made him proud to see me writing UNCANNY X-MEN. It’s an honor to contribute to the legacy of the Marvel mutants!
Greg Land: Always fun to work on these characters! I still remember how cool it was to pick up the new issue of UNCANNY X-MEN way back when I was young. Working on this takes me back!