X-POSITION: Bunn Toes the Line of "AXIS" with "Magneto"

"March to AXIS" kicks off next week in the pages of "Magneto," and the Master of Magnetism is sure to be in for some huge developments. Not only has the Red Skull stolen the brain of his longtime friend Charles Xavier, but the villain has also taken up residence in Genosha, hoping to eradicate the mutant race once and for all. Shepherding Magneto through these pre-"AXIS" developments is none other than series writer Cullen Bunn, who has detailed Magneto's solo war on Mutant Growth Hormone since the very first issue of the series.

X-POSITION: Bunn Brings "Magneto" to "AXIS"

Bunn joined this week's X-Position to discuss what's in store for Magneto on the "March to AXIS," as well as clarify a few points -- including his longtime love of Dazzler (with a photo to prove it!) and being able to hopefully use her in the future, Magneto's ability to skirt the grey areas of morality, the status of Genosha and much, much more.

CBR News: Cullen, before jumping into specific reader questions, there was a general calling out for Magneto teaming up with Dazzler following her liberation from the hands of Mystique. While it seems like Dazzler is pretty busy over in other corners of the X-Universe at the moment, what kind of plans might there be for Magneto to follow-up on his rescue of Dazzler?

Cullen Bunn: I actually expected to hear this one quite a bit.

So, most readers might not realize that I am an unapologetic Dazzler fan. I've loved the character since her earliest appearances, and I would have gladly added her to the roster of "Fearless Defenders" if she hadn't been involved in another book at the time.

As for her potential to appear in "Magneto," it's hard to say. Would I love to take the set up of Magneto and Dazzler hunting down MGH rackets and run with it? Absolutely. The thing is, I wasn't aware of what was being written with those characters when I first started outlining Magneto, and I'm not sure what is being planned with them right now. I'm pretty sure that there is a bigger story brewing there. 

You may or may not know that I write pretty lengthy proposed outlines for the books I write. Most of the time, those outlines get shredded right away, leaving the floor scattered with a carpet of awesome ideas that I can't revisit. The editor yells, "Pull!" and I throw the idea out like a clay pigeon to be blasted from the sky. Right now, I'm hoping to wrap up a few dangling plot lines for "Magneto" -- including a couple that will be introduced during "AXIS" -- but here's my promise to you, o Dazzler fans: I'll find out what's going on with Dazzler in other books and see if there's some potential to introduce her into Magneto's quest for vengeance, even if it's just for an issue or two. My guess is that would get shot down, but who knows?

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saucylama kicks off the reader questions portion of this week with a question about the morality of Magneto.

Cullen, I have really loved the book. I like that while I have my suspicions where the book is going, you keep us on our toes. I like that the larger marvel universe really has not yet played a role in the book. They are alluded to and you know it exists...but Magneto's journey is his own right now. Clearly that is about to change for at least a few issues. I am very excited at the potential story coming out of AXIS and how it plays into the series. My only hope is the book survives the experience!

I've been asked a few times about "Magneto" surviving "AXIS." It's a valid question. I can tell you this: "AXIS" plays a role in issues #9, 10, 11, and 12, and I'm already working on issue #13. So we're good. That said, "AXIS" will have some lasting ramifications on the Master of Magnetism. I won't let him leave that story unscathed.

My question is pretty simple: has Magneto given up his attempt at redemption? He is still very grey (murder tends to indicate a return to the old ways), but his cause is just. How long can he skirt the gray? Can he still be redeemed?

I have always felt that, yes, Magneto has abandoned any hope of redemption. For him, the idea of being "redeemed" just gets in the way of what he must do. He has to combat the evil perpetrated against mutants with an equal (if not greater) amount of evil. What he does is for the greater good, but he's still perpetrating acts of terrorism, murder and violence. For me, he's already stepped out of the gray and into a much darker place, but the thing I like about the character is that different readers interpret him differently. Starting in issue 6, you start to see Magneto taking steps to up his game. That's a trend that will continue for a bit after "AXIS." It's a very thin, very dangerous line he's walking.

blanchett wants to know more about Briar as well as the story behind what happened during the final days of Genosha.

The name Briar means a thorned plant or flower. A deceptive beauty basically. How terrified should Magneto be of Briar?

I think that Magneto should be as scared of Briar as Briar should be scared of Magneto. Those two have entered into a potentially deadly dance. It's obvious that Briar has some ulterior motives for helping Magneto, and we know Magneto has no patience when it comes to possible betrayal.

 Will we ever find out what happened during the last days of Genosha? We know so little about the six month period of his convalescence on Genosha save that he bonded with Polaris, Quicksilver left the island for some reason and that the island had a huge population explosion with people coming from all over the world notably Emma Frost and Carmen Pryde. It's struck me as strange that during the time Magneto was incapacitated the war torn nation seemed to be at total peace and it's economy booming and I have always wondered how he managed that or did his removal from the fray actually make peace possible?

I smiled when I read this question, because just a few days ago, I sent an e-mail off with the subject line "BIG POST-AXIS IDEA -- GENOSHA."

Remember when I said some of my greatest ideas end up getting blasted out of the sky? Well, keep your fingers crossed that my plans for Genosha come to fruition. "AXIS" opens up some doors to deal with Genosha in a pretty significant way. It's not something I had planned from the start. It was a happy surprise that popped up while writing the tie-in issues. I think your questions have quite a bit of merit, and the revelation of the answers could fit in very well with the series post-"AXIS."

We'll see. Like I said, there are a number of threads I need to tidy up in the series. I think some of my ideas around Genosha could help that happen.

Speaking of Genosha, what do you perceive the legal status of the Island now? Magneto was the monarch of the island. Upon his death, he for all intents and purposes cut Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch out of the will and named Polaris his heir to the Genoshans. However as Polaris is his bastard child born out of adultery the legality of her claim would be questionable. Also Magneto later resurfaced and it was never made clear if the rights from the island, if they did in fact go to the Polaris went back to Magneto. Since then Magneto has been re-declared an international terrorist. Maybe I've watched too much Game of Thrones but I am really curious who is currently the legal holder, wasteland or not of the throne of Genosha?

I think Genosha is considered abandoned badlands. In issue #8, we see Magneto visit an American town that has been contaminated and abandoned (inspired by the actual town of Times Beach). I think Genosha is viewed the same way, only on an international scale.

I thought it was an interesting twist with the Marauders. What made you decide to revisit them?

The Marauders surfaced during the heyday of my X-Men fervor. I loved them when they first appeared, because they were scary and menacing and mysterious. For me, they lost quite a bit of that "cool factor" after the Mutant Massacre. Not only was that crime never really answered for, the Marauders became sort of endless cannon-fodder. I knew that Magneto needed to deal with them in some way, but I also wanted them to be a little less expendable (even though Magneto probably still sees them that way). Once they are reactivated (reprogramming is going to take a little while) I hope that those characters have a little more of a sense of value and tragedy surrounding them.

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Next up, harashkupo wants to know more about the advance planning for the series, especially given the upcoming "AXIS" event.

Recent Marvel events for me have become a strain, something I'm forced to read since they directly tie into the current books. They feel more like interruptions than anything else. But with the direction you've given Magneto and considering the actions the Red Skull is taking, this event ties in rather well with this series. So would you mind giving us some behind the scenes stuff for "AXIS?" Was this originally planned before you began "Magneto?" If not, what was the planning like to mold your story into "AXIS?" Were there any discussions as to how Mags' voice would sound between writers?

"AXIS" was not on my radar when I started working on "Magneto," but I do think the books work very well together. Magneto was in play as a major element in "AXIS," so it makes sense that his solo title dedicates some time to the event. However, I was very adamant that, as much as possible, each tie-in issue would progress Magneto's individual story and the plot I'd already introduced. Rick Remender and I have worked together quite a bit, both in co-writing books and in making sure our books meshed well together. So, planning for the "AXIS" tie-ins was as simple as a few phone conversations and an exchange of outlines and scripts. There were some elements that would surface in what Rick was doing that I could help prepare for in issues of "Magneto." There were some things that I wanted to do that wouldn't work with what Rick had planned. And there were some elements that I started working with that tie into comics from years ago, but won't be revealed in "Magneto" for a while to come. The Marvel Universe is a shared place, and that can often cause headaches. This experience, though, has been pretty smooth sailing.

Yorick wants to know more about whether some distant past events might come into play during the course of the series.

Hello Cullen.

Magneto has been a great read so far, thanks! Are there any plans for other flashbacks in Magneto's life? I would love to see the Magneto-Charles-Gabrielle Haller era explored further!

It's like you're reading my outlines! Seriously, those characters were all mentioned together in an outline I just turned in!
Finally, Matt D has a question about the spectrum of stories and shifts that Magneto has gone through in his massive history.

While this is true with all Marvel characters, I think it has to be especially hard to write Magneto. When you look at his past: the concentration camp, Magda dying, running around with Xavier, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, bouncing around space with the Stranger, creating mutates in the Savage Land, getting de-aged and reeducated by Moira, being a teacher to the New Mutants, having the Acolytes, Genosha, Xorn, dying a few times, depowered, repowered, etc. It goes on and in a way that I think is choppier since he wasn't a character with a monthly book where the illusion of change had to be maintained. He could be batted around the spectrum far more.

Agreed. Now that he has a "home" it is easier to bring all those elements together. That's not to say he won't get batted around in other books, but there is a place where those stories can be focused.

I've read most of those stories and I can't find a clear and easy line through them all. With a character with so much wildly divergent backstory, is it hard to manage him? I'm sure there's a pull towards the iconic and any specific story can be framed by circumstance, but how do you balance a life full of all of those experiences with story needs?

Magneto can be difficult to manage. There have been so many stories about the character, and many of them tend to conflict. In addition, since I'm doing so much in flashbacks, I'm weaving "new history" into the character's background. Where Magneto has been, the things he has done, are so important to the character. That's why you've seen so many glimpses of previous stories. I think they are interesting and I always want to remind readers of that rich, diverse history and how those events influence Magneto now.

In the end, Magneto is a man who will never, ever escape his past. No matter how much vengeance he exacts, he'll never be able to break free of what has come before. Maybe that's what this story is all about.

Special thanks to Cullen Bunn for answering this week's "Magneto" questions!

Next week's X-Position guest is still in the works, so make sure to check back later to see who's next on deck.

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