Behind Magneto's UNCANNY X-MEN Motives

***This article contains spoilers for Uncanny X-Men #1, which went on sale earlier this month.***

 

Marvel Comics promised that the Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo's Uncanny X-Men — Cyclops' team of underground mutants, established and new — would have a traitor in their midst, and that member was revealed on the last page of this month's issue #1: Magneto.

From the looks of things, the classic X-Men nemesis-turned-trusted member is actually working with S.H.I.E.L.D. to expose Cyclops to the world. Understandably so, Magneto's not happy with the Dark Phoenix-possessed Scott Summers killing his long-time frenemy Professor Xavier during Avengers vs. X-Men, or that the outcome of that story led to his powers (and Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus and Magik's) veering out of control; from Magneto's perspective, compromising his very identity.

On the eve of the relase of Uncanny X-Men #2, we talked with Marvel's X-titles group editor Nick Lowe about the development, what it means to the Magneto/Cyclops dynamic and the series as a whole, plus the ongoing challenge of keeping big reveals under wraps.

 

Newsarama: Nick, how long was the "Magneto is secretly working with S.H.I.E.L.D. against Cyclops" angle in development? Was it part of Brian's original Uncanny X-Men pitch? It seems like a fairly organic outgrowth of the end of Avengers vs. X-Men.

Nick Lowe: Brian called me one afternoon and pitched it to me. I thought it was a clever idea that would be surprising as hell. He sounded really relieved that I said it and I heard my email ding. It was the script to #1. It came to him when writing the script and he couldn’t stop himself from writing it.

Nrama: And while Magneto's motivations certainly are in character, seeing him work with, effectively "the man" is a little surprising.

Lowe: You have to think about his relationship with Xavier to really get how this is in character. The guy who was the North Pole to his South Pole was killed by the guy he rolls with. I can’t believe I just wrote “rolls with,” but what the hey? Anyway, that will change a guy. When Xavier almost died years ago it led Magneto to join the X-Men for his first stint.

 

Nrama: This appears to be the beginning of the end of the unique Cyclops/Magneto relationship that X-fans have come to know over the past few years. As the X-Men group editor, what have you enjoyed about seeing Magneto as Cyclops' de facto "consigliere," and what do you think it's added to both characters?

Lowe: First, I love how surprising it was back when we did it. I love when characters are out of their comfort zones and not being the big cheese is certainly out of Magneto’s comfort zone. I really loved the juicy bits that came from other X-Men who have fought against Magneto having to work with him.

Nrama: Magneto and S.H.I.E.L.D. sure seems like a slow-burn type of thing, and the upcoming solicitations suggest that the Uncanny X-Men will be busy with lots of different matters (Dormammu?) in the coming months. How integral is this plot to the series going forward?

Lowe: His relationship to S.H.I.E.L.D. is a long-term plot for the book. And the start of big things for the character in general.

Uncanny X-Men

#3 cover.

Nrama: This ending was in definite contrast to All-New X-Men #1, in that it was kept a secret all the way to release date (and, as far as I can tell, was successfully kept secret, not that easy to do these days). Why was it important to you to keep this one under wraps? Also, did Marvel take any special precautions to make sure this book didn't get leak, unlike several other recent books across the industry?

Lowe: I wish we lived in a world where more people gave books a blind chance. All-New X-Men was a huge shift for us at Marvel that had a lot hinging on it. We knew that how All-New X-Men did would color how Uncanny X-Men was going to do as well as other big stuff that we haven’t announced yet, so we felt the need to let people know just how big the story was going to be. I hated that people knew the original X-Men were coming because it would have been such a great surprise. But we needed to show our hand so people knew we weren’t kidding around. That made me feel like we could take the risk with Uncanny #1. People saw how Bendis brought his A+ game with All-New and we trusted that you all would trust us enough to give Uncanny a shot. And it seems to have paid off!

As for the process, we didn’t go to any huge draconian lengths to keep it a secret. I just told as few people as I possibly could. 

 

Nrama: To wrap up — have you monitored any of the reaction to Uncanny X-Men #1 so far? If so, does it line up with your expectations? And anything you might want to tease for issue #2, whether Magneto related or not?

Lowe: I don’t keep too many tabs on Internet reaction to releases. I pay more attention to the sales charts. But Brian told me last Wednesday that we were having a very good day.

For #2, I just want to tease a terrific Emma/Scott scene, some incredible storytelling by the amazing Chris Bachalo and a type of comic page that we almost never do anymore and I miss terribly! How that for a tease?

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