Although Avengers & X-Men: Axis isn’t scheduled to debut until October, Magneto has picked up on the plans of the Red Skull and is taking the battle to him early. Promoted as part of “March to Axis,” September’s Magneto #9 and #10 will see the Auschwitz survivor/mutant leader take on the former Nazi leader as he prepares a new onslaught against another race: mutantkind.
Magneto writer Cullen Bunn says this two-part tie-in to March to Axis helps progress the larger story he has for the Master of Magnetism, and the unique opportunity of this event series will allow two of Marvel’s biggest villains (one reformed, one not) to face off in a big way. Bunn will be joined by regular series artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta, and the combination of a planned mutant massacre, basing it in the ruined island of Genosha, and Red Skull’s Nazi background make this a perfect storm for what Bunn describes as “next-level rage” by Magneto.
Newsarama: Cullen, we learned from Special Edition: NYC that the Magneto series will be drawn into the lead-up to Axis, "March to Axis." Erik might be considered on the side of good, but for many he's best known for standing alongside many of the villains seen in the Axis teaser images. How does he come into play here for his solo series?
Cullen Bunn: Here's the thing that I think is really cool about Axis when it comes to Magneto. From the beginning, some readers of Magneto have seen Erik as a villain. Some have seen him as a hero. And both of them are right! His mission of protecting his people is a "good" one. It's hard to argue that. His methods, though, could definitely be construed as "evil", especially if you're a hapless bystander who gets caught in the wake of his destructive anger. In this event, Magneto is still working for both "sides". We see him standing by the side of the heroes, but we also see him calling on those old villainous contacts of his.
Nrama: It seems Red Skull is touching upon a lightning rod of Magneto's hate – persecuting mutantkind. How does Magneto find out?
Bunn: Magneto has his ear to the ground, so to speak, and his ally Briar Raleigh has a vast, mysterious network of resources at her disposal. Initially, he learns that something bad is happening in Genosha. Everything else he has to discover on his own. You're right, though. When he realizes what is happening and who is responsible, it hits Magneto where he lives.
Nrama: One of the big thrills of X-Men: First Class was seeing Magneto versus Nazis – something pointed to as partial inspiration for this solo series. Now you're facing up with what is, equivalently, the biggest fictional Nazi ever in Red Skull. What can you say about that confrontation?
Bnn: In a very real way, Magneto has been preparing for this confrontation and dreaming about it since his childhood. There are moments in his past that he views with great shame. This is his chance to make it right. Of course, if he had the full extent of his powers, it would be a lot easier for him.
Nrama: Another trigger to anger Magneto is the fact that Red Skull dug up and stole the brain of Magneto's friend, Charles Xavier. What can readers expect when Magneto finds out that sliver of information?
Bunn: The idea that the Red Skull has defiled Xavier's body would be bad enough. But the fact that he's using Xavier's powers to harm mutants will take Magneto to some next-level rage.
Nrama: How does this "March to Axis" tie-in color your own solitary plans for Magneto on the Magneto series as a whole?
Bunn: One of the nice things about this event is that the "March to Axis" stories I tell fit very cleanly into the main Magneto series. The mission is the same. The tone is the same. And these stories continue a progressing story that we have already been planning on.