Hero, villain, whatever you want to call Magneto, he’s always had a problem with authority… and now the chief authority in Marvel, S.H.I.E.L.D. is coming out with “guns blazing” to take him down once and for all.
Since the launch of the Magneto series in 2014, Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta have taken the promise of those flashback Magneto scenes in X-Men: First Class and blown it wide open into a fully-fleshed out story of the mutant master of magnetism on the run while still trying to fight for the underdog and the oppressed in his own unique (and usually vicious) way.
In the aftermath of Avengers & X-Men: Axis which saw his twin hatred of Nazi oppression and mutant oppression become flesh with Red Onslaught, Magneto has re-established Genosha has a sanctuary for mutants. But one person’s sanctuary could be another person’s secret hideout, and after years of cat-and-mouse S.H.I.E.LD. is coming to Magneto’s doorstep with guns – and helicarriers – blazing.
Newsarama: Cullen, you’re now past the first year mark for Magneto. Before we get into the story – both past and present – how does it feel to be a year in to this character and this series?
Cullen Bunn: It’s both exciting and nerve-wracking! I’ve said many times that I just want a long, solid run on a superhero book. I’ve obviously written long stories with The Sixth Gun, and I’ve wanted the same chance to take my time with a character like Magneto. Now, it seems to be happening… and that means I’ve got to deliver on what I’ve been asking for! I’ve really had a blast digging into Magneto’s past and into his personality. For the most part, I’ve been able to take my time positioning different building blocks. Now it’s almost time to knock it all down and bring it crashing down onto Magneto’s head!
Nrama: Magneto’s really been put through the fire with Avengers & X-Men: Axis – both in that event series and the tie-in stories here in Magneto. What’s Magneto like on the other side of it with this series?
Bunn: After Axis, Magneto has a lot of things to ponder. One of the heaviest considerations is what role he wants to play. Is he the assassin? The avenger? The shepherd? Magneto is staying on Genosha, along with many of the displaced mutants who were left behind after the Red Skull’s onslaught. But he’s recently stood against the idea of a mutant “utopia.” He no longer believes they work. He’s wondering if he was wrong about that.
And, of course, there’s Hitzig… the Nazi monster made flesh… who wants very badly to show poor Erik how right he was.
Nrama: Before we get into Hitzig, I want to ask about Briar Raleigh. Magneto #13showed us the seedy world she comes from -- and its quite something: super-villain groupies, so to speak. How'd this come for you? And how'd you get Marvel on board?
Bunn: This was one of those under-the-radar ideas that I threw out there a while back (in the initial pitch for the series, in fact) and then I let quietly simmer over time. I mentioned it a time or two over the past few months, but I didn't spend too much time drawing attention to it. Then, as I was outlining Magneto #13, I sprung it on my editor again. It was a sneak attack to some degree, just in case he had decided he hated the notion. Luckily, he was on board, although I admit I toned it down from the initial concept.
Years ago, I worked at a Waldenbooks that had a huge True Crime section. That collection of books was kept alive by a very dedicated fan base, members of which visited the store on an almost daily basis. I dealt with them on a few occasions, making special orders for them and the like, and I can tell you that this group was more than just passingly interested like most customers. They were obsessed. Sometime later, I watched the David Cronenberg movie Crash which would also be an inspiration for Briar and her compatriots, as was the movie 8MM.
Nrama: And how will this new-found aspect of Briar Raleigh affect what comes next in the Magneto series?
Bunn: Right now, the readers know about this creepy little sub-culture, but Magneto does not. His reaction when he discovers this group will be interesting, I think.
Nrama: And so what should readers expect with Magneto #14 on January 21?
Bunn: S.H.I.E.L.D. has been pursuing Magneto since the first issue. They've had a few brief encounters, but in Magneto #14 they will be going after him with all guns blazing. They are headed straight for Genosha, with the intention of bringing him down once and for all. Also in #14, we'll finally be seeing what exactly happened to Magneto during the Sentinel attack on Genosha.
Nrama: The cover for Magneto #15 by new cover artist Dan Panosian really seems to spell out this head-on collision between Magneto and S.H.I.E.L.D.
Bunn: The cover speaks the truth! #14 and #15 will be a big confrontation between Magneto and S.H.I.E.L.D. We’ve had this cat and mouse game playing out between them for a while. The real question is, who is the cat in this scenario? And assuming S.H.I.E.L.D. is playing the feline role, what happens when the cat catches the mouse, then finds out the mouse has big, nasty teeth? There are a couple of big surprises for #15, including something many readers have been asking for for a while.
Nrama: This series has stood out from the pack in no small part due to the artwork of Gabriel Hernandez Walta. You’ve worked with a variety of artists both here and elsewhere, but what does having Gabriel on here do for the series – especially in the crowded shelves of comic stores?
Bunn: Gabriel offers a book that simply looks different from anything you’d expect. He brings this gritty crime story sensibility to the book, which is exactly the tone we wanted for the series.
Nrama: Although you and Gabriel are a unit here, Magneto’s pretty much been a loner for this series, even with Briar’s help from time to time. Will that solitary status continue going forward here, or could we see some of Erik’s allies on the heroic or the villainous side come forward?
Bunn: Erik will continue to be a loner in this series. Yes, he has some allies showing up in coming issues, but the book will still focus on Magneto and his seemingly hopeless crusade.