As one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe, feats like building an asteroid headquarters came easy to the mutant master of magnetism. However, constructing a lasting and meaningful legacy for mutantkind was much more difficult thanks to the amount of violence Magneto has endured and perpetrated over his long and storied history. Whenever he has come close to and even achieving his dream, it’s been torn down by outside forces or sabotaged by his own actions.
The recent diminishing of his powers has made Magneto more dedicated than ever to creating something lasting and positive for his fellow mutants. Series writer Cullen Bunn and artists Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Javi Fernandez have been moving Magneto forward on his quest by forcing him to confront the ghosts of his past. Now, he’s finally found something positive he can build for his fellow mutants — a new community on Genosha — and he’s not about to allow something like the coming “Secret Wars” event and the looming destruction of the Marvel Universe destroy what he’s building.
We spoke with Bunn about exorcizing the ghosts of Magneto’s past, the immediate obstacles standing in Magneto’s way, and the series’ upcoming four part “Last Days” tie-in arc to “Secret Wars” which will reunite Magneto with his estranged daughter, Polaris.
CBR News: Throughout this series, you’ve been dealing with the ghosts of Magneto’s long, storied and often violent past. How does that work into the upcoming “Last Days” storyline as Marvel heads into the “Secret Wars” era?
Cullen Bunn: That’s a huge part of what I’m going for in this series. With a character like Magneto, I knew I had to embrace his long and storied history. I wanted to do that, though, in a way that spoke to the darker tone of the series. All along, I’ve been playing with this idea of ghost stories and urban legends. If you look at the first issue, it starts with someone telling a story about this “monstrous” version of Magneto they encountered. Each of the events from Magneto’s past — events that can be interpreted in a number of ways, I think — contribute to the man as a whole.
As we look down the barrel of the end of the world, Magneto is definitely thinking about his legacy. After everything he’s done — after all the horrible acts he’s committed for what he saw as the greater good — the world is coming to an end. He’s always justified his actions by working toward a better future. If there is no future to work toward, what does that make him?
In Issue #14, Magneto faced down another one of his ghosts: the country of Genosha and the mutant genocide that happened there. At the end of the issue, he chooses to surrender to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who are pursuing him. Can you talk about what motivated that decision and how you’ll follow up on it in Issues #15-17? How do these issues set the stage for your “Last Days” arc?
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, a guy like Magneto doesn’t surrender without a very good reason. In Issue #16, we see Magneto’s game plan a little more clearly. He’s making a statement that S.H.I.E.L.D. will not soon forget.
In Issue #17, we’ll see the early stages of a new mutant community on Genosha.
Magneto is close to seeing a new era of peace and prosperity for the mutants under his care. But there is one last ghost he must face — and that is Hitzig, the SS officer who tormented and terrified him as a child.
How much story time passes between Magneto #17-#18. Set the stage for us, where is Magneto when the final incursion event that dooms the Earth and the Marvel Universe begins?
Some time passes between Issues 17 and 18. In 17, a surprise visitor arrives in Genosha, and that helps set up some of the story to come.
All right. Maybe it’s not a big surprise. Polaris shows up in Issue #17.
What’s your sense of the relationship between Polaris and Magneto? And will you just be looking at Polaris, or will some of her X-Factor teammates be part of this story?
One of the things that always struck me was how different his relationship with Lorna was to his relationship to those two non-children of his. As the world is ending and Magneto is reflecting on all the things he’s done wrong, it seemed like now was the perfect time for a reunion with Polaris.
You won’t be seeing any other members of X-Factor in this arc, though. It’s all about Lorna and Magnus.
How important will the book’s established supporting cast be in this “Last Days” arc? Will characters like Briar Raleigh play a major role in this story?
The supporting cast will be very important. Briar has a big role to play, and we’ll be answering a lot of questions about why she’s been helping Magneto. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who’ve been chasing Magneto also feature pretty prominently in the story. You’ll also be seeing some other characters who, while they haven’t been in the series thus far, are very important to Magneto.
What can you tell us about the problems and issues that Magneto will be wrestling with in your “Last Days” arc? Is he the type of character to make the most of the time he has left, or will he fight against the inevitable end?
Magneto will definitely not be going gently into that good night. This is a guy who has, at times, harnessed the power of the Earth’s magnetic field itself. If he was at the peak of his abilities, he might even be able to do something to prevent the destruction of the Earth. His powers, though, are not what they once were. In this tale, we see Magneto taking steps to restore his powers and even increase them beyond their once vaunted levels. But he’ll need to make some pretty significant sacrifices in order to reach his goal.
You’ve got experience telling apocalyptic tales with your creator-owned series “The Sixth Gun” from Oni, but one of the things that make these tales so interesting is how characters react to their world ending. So how’s that translating for Magneto? It sounds like you’re spinning a tragic and poignant tale.
“Tragic” is a good way of putting it. Tragic with a capital “T.” It feels like this story really puts a spotlight on the character I’ve been building over the course of the series. Was I expecting an apocalypse? No. But I think it is a wonderful backdrop for Magneto’s story.
I’m so happy that Gabriel and Javi (and let’s not forget Jordie Bellaire) have been with me on this book since the beginning. You’ll be seeing some new artists joining the book, but they will be maintaining the mood the others have already established.
I know you can’t reveal if there’s more Magneto work in your future during or after “Secret Wars,” so instead I’ll ask, what have you enjoyed most about writing “Magneto” so far?
I’ve loved the idea of exploring Magneto as a bit of a myth or ghost story. It’s been a real thrill to look into the events that have shaped him into the man he is. And I like that he can be seen as a monster or a hero, depending on the reader and on how each issue is interpreted.
Favorite moments? There have been so many. I still love the very first scene in the first issue. I love the paperclip bit. I love bringing the Marauders into Magneto’s story. There was an ah-ha moment for me when I came up with the idea that Hitzig might be the SS officer Magneto needed Wolverine to kill in Remender’s “X-Force.” Those are the thrilling little connections that help make working in comics so exciting for me.
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