CBR News spoke with Cullen Bunn about how Magneto's experiences during the eight-month gap between "Secret Wars" and "Uncanny X-Men" #1 impacted him, his relationship with and plans for the Uncanny X-Men, and the inciting incident of and potential character clashes in his "Civil War II" tie-in series.
CBR News: It feels like these initial issues of "Uncanny X-Men" seeded the fact that some fairly major events went down during the eight-month gap after "Secret Wars," especially when it comes to Magneto. From what I can gather, he had set up a new mutant sanctuary on Genosha and when the Terrigen Cloud hit, it not only ravaged the sanctuary it did something to his powers. It either killed him or left him in a death-like state, correct? Will we learn more about exactly what occurred or see that in flashback soon?
Cullen Bunn: You're on the right track with some of what happened to Magneto and Genosha. Magneto definitely established a new sanctuary on Genosha. We saw the first steps toward that during the "Magneto" series. But during the eight-month gap, the Terrigen cloud swept across the island nation. The mutant population there was ravaged once again. That event has left a pretty deep emotional wound on Magneto, and I think you'll see his reaction to it in a big way in issue #5 of "Uncanny X-Men."
As for Magneto's "death" -- we'll learn more about it in bits and pieces. I don't think I'll take a lot of space to go into a great deal of exposition on it. With his powers it is the same deal. He's more powerful than he was throughout most of his solo series, but he's not as all-powerful as he was at the end of that book.
Again, I'll reveal more on that as we go along. In the next arc, we'll start learning a little more about how Magneto decided to bring this team together. Let's just say he was given a "sign" from a power greater than his own.
Magneto is clearly angry over what happened on Genosha, but the question is just how angry. Would you say he's as mad as he was in the early issues of his ongoing series, or is this a whole new level?
At this point, I think Magneto is just as angry as he was in his ongoing -- maybe even a little more -- but he's focusing that anger in different ways. During the eight-month gap, Magneto became a little lost, especially after what happened to Genosha. With this team of X-Men, he's trying to build himself back up and do some "good" for his people. He has a lot of plates spinning right now, as you will soon see, and he's approaching the mutant plight from a lot of angles instead of being a one-man vengeance squad. But there are some secrets that will be revealed in the "Apocalypse Wars" arc that may send Erik back down the path of fury and revenge.
One teammmate who seems to do a good job dealing with Magneto and his anger is Psylocke. Why do you think that is? What's your sense of the relationship between Magneto and Betsy?
I think that Betsy knows exactly what Erik is all about. She knows his motives. She knows his quirks. And she has no interest in taking any of his BS. She believes in what Magneto is doing -- right now -- but she also knows that he's only a few steps away from going off the deep end. In turn, I think Magneto genuinely respects Psylocke. As you'll see in a future issue, when Magneto really needed help, he turned to Psylocke. A bond and an understanding has formed between the two of them. As it stands right now, Psylocke may be the mutant who understands Magneto the most.
"Uncanny X-Men" #5 sees you and artist Greg Land pit Magneto against the Dark Riders on Genosha where he's struggling to protect the life of the mutant healer Triage. Given his fragile emotional state, what can you tell us about how that conflict plays out?
That rage and anger we discussed a bit ago? You're going to see some of that unleashed. You're also going to see that Magneto is still a planner and he's been working toward some interesting end goals, some of which his team has been completely unaware of. This might drive a bit of a wedge between Magneto and his team.
Also, I've heard a lot of comparisons between this team of X-Men and X-Force. X-Force, as you know, was most recently this team of mutants who worked behind the scenes, never being seen as they struck at their enemies. Issue #5 draws a line in the sand between the methodologies of those shadow operatives and this team.
And, by the end of the issue, we will see something new for the X-Men: War Room X.
"Uncanny X-Men" #6 by you and artist Ken Lashley arrives in April to kick off your book's "Apocalypse Wars" tie-in, which focuses on Psylocke and Archangel, but another war arrives in June, one in which Magneto plays a central role according to what we know about "Civil War II: X-Men" so far. Is this more of a separate story that's informed by the events of the main "Civil War II" series or something that directly involves the central conflict of that story? Can you tell us what brings the X-Men into the mix and how the mutants align?
Yes, "Civil War II: X-Men" is a story that is "sort of" separate from the main story line of "Civil War II," but it is informed by what happens during the event and there will be ramifications that will be felt throughout the Marvel Universe in the months to come. This tale is set into motion by the same catalyst that sets "Civil War II" into motion. A new power emerges among the Inhumans. This power, in Magneto's eyes, could be very dangerous to the mutant population, so -- in typical Master of Magnetism fashion -- he decides to take it for himself.
As you can imagine, something like that could very easily start a war between the Inhumans and the mutants. Storm sees this and decides to stand in Magneto's way. This will be a major team-up between the Extraordinary X-Men and the Uncanny X-Men, but I use "team-up" lightly. The two groups will be poised against each other in some dramatic ways. What's more, there may be dissent among both teams. I think there will be a lot of discussion as to who is right and who is wrong in this tale.
Is this a strictly mutant versus mutant conflict or will we see some members of the Inhumans and their royal family in the mix as well?
The Inhumans will be involved, and you will see some of the royal family, but I think you'll be surprised by the roles they play.
What's it like pitting Magneto against someone like Storm? Are there any mutant-on-mutant showdown you're looking forward to writing? Any chance we'll see Sabretooth and Old Man Logan throw down?
One of the things I like about this story is that we're going to see how the two teams approach problems differently. We'll see the very different leadership styles of Storm and Magneto. But we'll also see how they are similar, and I believe there are some really engaging moments that will play out because of those similarities. As for specific conflicts you'll see play out, I don't know if I want to reveal all of them just yet.
There are some match ups that just sound awesome to me. Magik vs. Monet, anyone? In addition to the regular "EXM" and "UXM" team members, you'll be seeing some other familiar mutant faces in the book, and some of them will be going head-to-head with our heroes. As for Sabretooth and Old Man Logan -- of course they are going to have some very interesting interactions!
Bringing all the conflict to life in "Civil War II: X-Men" is Andrea Broccardo, an artist whose work I'm not super familiar with but he seems to have a real flair for science fiction. What do you enjoy most about his style?
Andrea brings lots of energy to the series, and he gives a great sense of life and motion to these characters. I love his interpretation of the X-Men. I feel like he is a great choice to merge the tones of "Uncanny X-Men" and "Extraordinary X-Men."
If we can look beyond the events of "Civil War II: X-Men" for a minute, will the fallout from that series have a major effect on "Uncanny X-Men" down the line?
There will definitely be shockwaves coming out of "Civil War II: X-Men" that will have long-lasting impact on the Uncanny team, both in terms of their mission and the team dynamic. In a lot of ways, this series also sets up some major happenings in the months to follow.