Unlike many of the Marvel Universe's villains, Magneto doesn't want to take over world, he wants to create a better one. But if world domination emerges as the best way to protect mutant kind, the Master of Magnetism has shown he's ready to rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove.
In 2005's "House of M," Magneto's daughter the Scarlet Witch used her mutant powers to create an alternate reality very similar to the mainstream Marvel U, except history diverged at a certain point resulting in Magneto establishing a worldwide Mutant Utopia under his control. This September, writer Christos Gage, who penned last year's "House of M: Avengers," reunites with his "World War Hulk: X-Men" collaborator, illustrator Andrea Di Vito and cover artist Mike Perkins, to reveal the hidden history of Magneto's world take-over in the five issue miniseries "Civil War: House of M." CBR News spoke with Gage about the project.
"Civil War: House of M" begins during the early stages of World War II and follows events to the end of the Mutant/Human War, when Magneto took over the world. "When the story begins, Magneto is just a small boy facing the horrors of a concentration camp. His motivations are similar to the Magneto we all know. But as he grows to manhood, there are several things that make him different," Gage told CBR News. "For one thing, in the House of M reality, his daughter Wanda is a normal human. This seems to soften the hatred for humanity we saw in 'our' Magneto during the early days of his career. He's still going to fight for mutant liberation with everything he has, but he shows a greater regard for the importance of human life.
"There are also more mutants in this reality, so Magneto is less alone--there's an organized resistance movement for him to be a part of, as opposed to in early issues of the X-Men, where Magneto essentially was creating the resistance by himself, and was challenged by the X-Men. Other differences will become apparent over the course of the story."
The title "Civil War: House of M" isn't just a clever combination of the titles of two of Marvel's biggest event comics, it's a literal description of what happens in the story. "It's a civil war in the sense that humanity and mutankind are at war," explained Gage. "Just as the American Civil War saw brother fight brother, the human/mutant war can pit parent against child, neighbor against neighbor. National boundaries are far less important than genetic ones. As for the plot, it's the story of Magneto's rise to power. You'll see him meet and ally with Charles Xavier. You'll see Quicksilver and Polaris fight at his side (with Wanda in a non-combat role), initially not knowing they're his children. And you'll see what sacrifices have to be made for the dream to become reality."
For Magneto's dream to become reality, he'll also have to overcome a multitude of adversaries. "Well, needless to say, there are Sentinels galore," Gage confirmed. "In the first issue, Magneto finds himself battling Apocalypse for the right to chart the direction of the mutant resistance movement. And as he consolidates his power, the U.S. will send some of their top agents after him--including a former young ally of Captain America."
"Civil War: House of M" is meant to be more than your typical superhero or supervillain yarn; it's an alternate history tale, which means Magneto interacts with and takes part in characters and events from both real and Marvel Universe history. "There are definitely alternate history events. Sharp-eyed 'House of M' readers already know that in this reality, Richard Nixon remained President into the late 1970's," Gage stated. "You'll find out in our story who his Vice-President is-and it's not Agnew or Ford, it's a fellow named Bolivar Trask who just happens to be the inventor of the Sentinels. There'll be other differences, but I didn't want to throw them in just for the heck of it--there has to be a story-based reason."
Given its sprawling scope, "Civil War: House of M" will feature large supporting cast. "The major supporting characters are Charles Xavier and the rest of the House of M-Quicksilver, Wanda, and Polaris," Gage revealed. "You'll also see a number of other familiar mutant and non-mutant faces pop up in one way or another, like Sabretooth and Banshee--and it seems I find it virtually impossible to explore this world without having the Blob [Blob also appeared in 'House of M: Avengers'] show up at some point."
In "House of M: Avengers," Gage's goal was to show how an alternate history impacted a neighborhood. In "Civil War: House of M," the writer is moving from an intimate to epic tone by telling a tale with a global span. "But if I do my job right, the earth-shattering events will resonate because of their effects on the characters," Gage said.
The writer is delighted to once again be working with artist Andrea Di Vito. "As we saw in the first 'Annihilation' and 'World War Hulk: X-Men,' he has a very dynamic style and has no problem whatsoever drawing big, sprawling action scenes with a cast of dozens--or thousands!" Gage remarked. "And he'll get ample opportunity to do that here. But he's equally talented with the quiet moments, and they're what make the big moments work."
Like "House of M: Avengers," "Civil War: House of M" is a self contained tale that came about mainly because the House of M reality has struck a chord with comic fans who borrow their favorite titles, usually for a three week period. "As I've said before, the 'House of M' trade paperbacks do very well at libraries, and librarians have asked Marvel for more, so I'm sure commissioning a new 'HOM' miniseries was an easy decision," Gage explained. "What's gratifying is that editors Bill Rosemann and Tom Brevoort asked me if I'd be interested in writing this one as well, and I was definitely game. Our 'House of M: Avengers' artist, Mike Perkins, was busy with the adaptation of Stephen King's 'The Stand,' but he signed on to do the covers, and for interiors we were lucky to get Andrea DiVito, with his talented wife Laura Villari handling colors."
Gage is a big fan of alternate reality comic stories like the classic X-Men tale "Days of Future Past" and Marvel's "What If?" series, but he finds the House of M reality to be a particularly compelling world to write about. "What's intriguing to me about the House of M reality is that it gives me the opportunity to re-imagine familiar characters in a setting that's similar to the world we know in some ways, but very different in others-and in many cases there's that great 'what if their dreams came true' angle," Gage said. "I get to think about what makes the character tick and how that might change under different circumstances. For some, like the Blob, there isn't much difference-he still goes around eating and smacking people. For others, the changes are more pronounced- for instance in 'House of M: Avengers,' we saw a less obsessed Punisher and a villainous Thunderbird."
Gage hopes "Civil War: House of M" resonates with readers because he'd love to follow it up with another tale set in the House of M reality. "There are plenty of ideas I wouldn't mind taking a crack at," he remarked. "The House of M's Kree/Skrull war, the House of M vs. Galactus--as long as there are good stories to be told, and people wanting to read them, I'm game!"
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