He’s been a villain and a hero, but he’s never been truly on his own. This March, Marvel’s Master of Magnetism, Magneto, strikes out on his own in his first solo ongoing series, aptly titled Magneto.
Announced earlier this month, Magneto pairs Sixth Gun scribe Cullen Bunn with artist Gabriel Hernandez as Erik Lehnserr forges a new path for himself – taking aspects from both his heroic and villainous ways of the past. Marvel describes Magneto’s new mission as fighting “the war for mutantkind’s survival on his own terms,” with the helmeted mutant using both shock and awe for the world to submit to his will. Magneto has fought virtually every major player in the Marvel Universe, be it hero or villain, and now in this new series it’s truly Magneto versus the world. According to Brian Michael Bendis who originally pitched the idea of a solo Magneto series, fans of the X-Men: First Class scene where Magneto went hunting for Nazis, Magneto is the book for them.
Newsarama spoke with Cullen Bunn shortly after the Magneto series was announced, and dug into this hard break from the X-Men and the possibility of the reformed super-villain falling back into bad habits.
Newsarama: Wow, a Magneto ongoing series – a first for the Master of Magnetism. What can you tell us about this series, Cullen?
Cullen Bunn: I couldn’t be more excited about working on this series!
With this book, we’ll be treading into a lot of territory. Part detective story. Part super hero (or is it villain?) story. Part examination of Magneto as a myth, an urban legend, a bedtime story people tell their children. “Don’t think bad thoughts about mutants or Magneto might get you.”
Nrama: So Magneto is leaving the auspices of the X-Men and going out on his own. Can you talk about him leaving the X-men – and leaving Cyclops particularly – and what is status is with them when the series begins?
Bunn: Magneto is striking out on his own in this series for a number of reasons. I can’t reveal too much about this, because it might spoil some other awesome stuff that’s going to be going on! But Magneto will not be relying on the X-Men in this series. He doesn’t need them! In fact, he doesn’t think he needs anyone. Soon enough, he’ll realize that is not the case, but he’ll be turning toward allies that are unknown and unexpected to the readers.
If only he had the Acolytes at his side again, huh?
Nrama: I like the way you think, Cullen. But why is Magneto leaving the X-Men -- and what is he doing now operating on his own?
Bunn: Dissatisfaction and disillusionment are fuelling Magneto, urging him to take some drastic steps. We’ll follow Magneto on his quest to defend the mutant race... by aggressively taking out each and every threat to mutant kind he can find. To his mind, he wants to knock the towers of hatred down, then stomp them into dust so they can’t get back up again. He’s not waiting for the Avengers or X-Men to decide if someone or something is a threat. He’s not letting enemies sit in a cell. He’s deciding who deserves punishment. In some cases, he might even be preemptively making these decisions. And that punishment is brutally final.
Nrama: Previous times we’ve seen Magneto strike out on his own it’s had some villainous twists to it, sometimes alone and sometimes with him bringing a team together. Could that happen here?
Bunn: Magneto’s villainous roots certainly play a role in this series. We’re seeing Magneto treading boldly into some dark territory here. It’s a slippery slope. One ruthless act leads to another. And as the threats become more challenging, Magneto must become more coldblooded, hardnosed, and brutal in order to overcome them. He knows that a single misstep could turn him into the force of evil that he once was… and he knows it is just a matter of time… but he’s trying to keep that side of his zealotry at bay for as long as possible.
Nrama: Magneto’s the master of magnetism, but since Avengers vs. X-Men his powers haven’t been quite what they used to be. Can you explain what his powers are right now, and what their limits are?
Bunn: Magneto’s powers are still broken. He doesn’t have the fine control that he once had. Controlling large amounts of metal are exhausting at best and out of his league at worst. He’s trying to retrain himself, to push himself, but it is slow going. What we tend to forget, though, is that even with reduced superpowers, Magneto is pretty formidable. He’s a genius. He’s cunning. He’s a master strategist. He speaks dozens of languages. He can read friends and enemies like books. And he’s no slouch when it comes to hand-to-hand combat. Readers will see Magneto as the badass he is… even without him relying on powers. And when he finally cuts loose, his effectiveness skyrockets to scary levels.
Nrama: Over in Uncanny Avengers we saw his daughter Scarlet Witch struck down and apparently murdered. What does Magneto have to say about that?
Bunn: I hate to say “wait and see” but this is definitely a wait and see answer. Rick Remender and I have been talking about how these characters and stories will intersect. There are some very interesting stories set to unfold.
Nrama: Magneto was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and since then he’s had many others add to his character and mythos – from comics to the X-Men film franchise. What are you pulling from to get your best interpretation of who Erik Lehnsherr is?
Bunn: I think I’m drawing bits and pieces from all my favorite incarnations of the character. His original appearances, his early days with the New Mutants and X-Men, his Asteroid M days, the recent Uncanny X-Men stuff, and even the movie appearances (in particular X-Men: First Class). I’ve been exposed to a ton of Magneto stories over the years, and they all influence me. Hell, some of the stories that are influencing me might just be figments of my imagination… holdovers from old daydreams. In the end, this Magneto is cool and calm and menacing and scary as Hell.
Nrama: I have to ask you about that gorgeous cover by Paolo Rivera with Magneto wearing a barbwire helmet. Sometimes covers are done without real insight to the story of the issue itself, but what can you say about that cover and it representing the story you have planned?
Bunn: It’s interesting that you ask about the cover. Paolo might have been working from my initial outlines, but I’m not sure. Either way, I think the cover speaks to some of the themes and ideas I have planned for the series. The cover and a scene that I wrote for the first issue actually play off of one another, but I think those notions came about independently!
Nrama: On the inside of this is artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta, doing his first launch of a series at Marvel. I know it’s still early on in the process, but what are your feelings on having him working with you making this comic series real?
Bunn: These series needed an artist who could really highlight the mood and build this sense of dread and fear. Gabriel brought this is spades! Bringing the devastation Magneto brings with him can be tricky, but there are some jaw-dropping scenes that Gabriel has been drawing. I was a fan of his work before, but having seen the first few pages of the first issue, I really believe this is some of his best stuff to date