WW PHILLY '08 -Greg Pak on Magneto: Testament

Young Magneto from Marvel's Magneto: Testament

As announced at today's Mondo Marvel panel at Wizard World Philly, writer Greg Pak will be exploring the history of one of Marvel's most recognizable and revered supervillains in Magneto: Testament.

Magneto, best known as being one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe, has been a nemesis to the X-Men since his first appearance in 1963. Although seeking the same type of protection for the mutant race as his long-time friend and eventual foe, X-Men founder Professor Charles Xavier, Magneto has a more violent and drastic approach that conflicts with the mission of the X-Men.

A five-issue mini-series that begins in September, Magneto: Testament will explore that part of Magneto's life that shaped his ideas about persecution and influenced his violent efforts to protect mutants -- the childhood he spent as a victim of the Holocaust.

The series, which falls under the Marvel Knights imprint, will be penciled by Carmine Di Giandomenico, the Italian artist whose work was recently seen in Daredevil: Battlin' Jack Murdock. The series will also feature Marko Djurdjevic on covers and Matt Hollingsworth as colorist.

Pak was last seen writing X-Men characters with the Phoenix: Endsong and Phoenix: Warsong mini-series, although the concentration on Magneto's childhood means this will obviously concentrate on a different era. To get the scoop on Magneto: Testament, Newsarama caught up with Pak for a quick chat to find out why this story is so important to him and to the history of the character.

Newsarama: How did this project come about? Was this something you pitched or something Marvel wanted you to do?

Greg Pak: This is a project that editor Warren Simons has wanted to do for years. When first he told me about it, I felt the hair go up on the back of my neck and knew I had to be involved. We've been researching and planning for about three years now -- it's become something of a mission for both of us.

NRAMA: It's been awhile since we saw you playing with X-Men characters. How does it feel to get back to this universe, and why was this your choice for the next project you'd do?

GP: When I was a kid, the X-Men were the biggest and coolest characters around. So it's always been a huge thrill for me to work on any mutant related project. But Magneto in particular has always fascinated me because of his back story. And that's exactly what this new project is all about.

NRAMA: What is Magneto's status as we start this comic? Where is he and where's his head?

GP: He's a boy who wants to give a girl a silver chain. And then his entire world explodes.

NRAMA: Ah, so this goes all the way back to his time before the Holocaust? What can you tell us about the story?

GP: Magneto: Testament follows a Jewish boy and his family through Germany and Poland from 1935 to 1945 as they struggle to survive the Nazi rise to power and Hitler's Final Solution.

NRAMA: So is this all about Magneto's family? And will we see any other people with a relationship to Magneto?

GP: The book is all about our young hero and his family. His father in particular plays a huge role -- as our story begins, he's a German Jewish veteran of World War I who believes against all evidence that the nation that produced Beethoven and Mendelssohn will come to its senses. And a young woman named Magda makes an appearance...

NRAMA: Will you be introducing any new characters in this story? What can you tell us about them?

GP: We're definitely introducing some new characters, including our hero's uncle and a schoolteacher named Herr Kalb.

NRAMA: How has it been working with Carmine on the story?

GP: Check out Daredevil: Battlin' Jack Murdoch for a taste of Carmine's great feel for character, period, location, and atmosphere. We've just started getting concept art from Carmine, and it's beautiful.

NRAMA: What do you think Magneto represents in the Marvel universe and more particularly, the X-Men universe, and why is it so important to tell this part of his story?

GP: Over the years, Magneto has developed into one of the most compelling characters in comics history. In the Marvel and X-Men universe, Magneto represents the most radical voice for mutant liberation -- the Malcolm X to Xavier's MLK, if you will -- which has allowed X-Men stories to delve into their central themes with greater drama and depth.

But Magneto's become a critical character far beyond the Marvel Universe. Because Chris Claremont gave him a backstory as a Holocaust survivor, Magneto's given multiple generations of readers and writers a way to learn about and explore a history that's absolutely essential and forever relevant.

For more information on Greg Pak, his fans can visit his website at http://www.pakbuzz.com

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