With the main X-Men team moving to Limbo to protect mutantkind, a vacuum has been left in the Marvel Universe -- and in comes a very different and very dark Uncanny X-Men team. Magneto has formed a strong-arm squad of reformed (and not so reformed) villains to fill that void and defend the mutants that remain on Earth.
Newsarama spoke to Uncanny X-Men writer Cullen Bunn about the series which debuted this week and he dropped some hints about the type of threats Magneto’s team will tackle, as well as giving some clues about the mystery member foretold in advance solicitations.
Newsarama: Cullen, the X-Men have had “black ops” teams before. How does Magneto’s Uncanny X-Men compare to Wolverine’s X-Force? How do their missions line up?
Cullen Bunn: The biggest difference, I guess, is that Magneto doesn't see this team as a "black ops" group at all. This isn't a shadowy, hidden kill squad. While X-Force worked in secret, the Uncanny X-Men work in a very public forum. They are making a statement. They want the enemies of mutant kind to see what they are doing. They want people to know that if you screw up, the X-Men are gonna come get ya!
Nrama: You had the had the longest real run of any writer with Magneto with his recent solo series. Your Magneto run had him on a very specific mission – is this a continuation of the job Magneto was doing?
Bunn: There are some threads that continue on from the solo series, but I'm not sure I'd say this is a continuation of Magneto's previous mission. A lot has happened to the X-Men since Secret Wars. Magneto's mission has changed a little in the interim. Now, he sees a vacuum caused by the absence of X-Men. He sees opportunists who would capitalize on the perceived weakness of mutant kind. And he will not stand for it.
Nrama: Tell us about the team in Uncanny X-Men. What makes these characters the best choice for the job?
Bunn: When you first see this team line-up, you might think this team should be called the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. We've got Magneto, Psylocke, Sabretooth, Monet, and Archangel, with Mystique and Fantomex fitting into the story in some strange way that will not be revealed right away. Each of these characters has a very specific reason for working with Magneto. Indeed, even Magneto has a very specific reason that he has gathered this group. We're not revealing how they came together (or why) right away. We'll reveal those secrets as time goes on.
Nrama: Several of the team members are former villains. What villains and challenges will we see the Uncanny X-Men take on?
Bunn: With this team, finding suitable challenges can be a... ahem... challenge. Almost every individual member of the Uncanny X-Men could take down most enemies all by their lonesome. In the initial issues, we'll be seeing a group of villains I've always loved--the Dark Riders--going up against the X-Men. The Dark Riders in this instance are particularly dangerous, because they've gone rogue, lashing out at a particular target in a strange way. Later, we'll be seeing Clan Akkaba. The Hellfire Club will have a pretty big presence in this series, and I'm excited to reveal who is forming the New Inner Circle. And there are another few villains that I can't wait to reveal as time goes on!
Keep in mind, with this team, they might be their own worst enemies!
I want to make sure the Nasty Boys get a shot at the villainous spotlight, but we'll have to see if I can make that happen.
Nrama: Advance solicitations for February's Uncanny X-Men #3 mention an “X-Man you never thought you’d see again.” There have been some pretty odd and unexpected mutants over the years – can you drop any hints about who’s coming back?
Bunn: Oh, I want to tell you who it is! I want to reveal all the secrets. This is a character I really pushed to be part of the book. I can say this: I've haunted a bunch of message boards and the like to see who people are guessing as this mystery member, and I haven't seen any correct guesses yet! That said, this team is coming together in a way that isn't necessarily traditional. For example, Fantomex and Mystique are involved from #2, but they are not necessarily part of the team. This new member, at least for a while, will also have a non-traditional and unexpected role to play.
Nrama: There are several “Uncanny” teams in the Marvel Universe at this point. What keeps the X-Men the epitome of that brand?
Bunn: The X-Men were "Uncanny" before being "Uncanny" was cool! With this book, I'm trying to live up to the expectations of what that particular adjective means. When I think about what made the Uncanny X-Men special, it was the strange, unexpected team interacting as they embarked on wild adventures. "The Strangest Super-Heroes of all!" That's the ideal I hope to live up to.
Nrama: Greg Land is handling art on Uncanny X-Men. What makes him the ideal artist to handle this kind of title, and what does he bring to your scripts?
Bunn: Greg's been down this road before, and he genuinely loves the X-Men as much as I do. I think Greg is a great visual storyteller. As a reader, I want to be able to follow the visuals from panel to panel without getting lost... and Greg does that. It's interesting. Greg and I talked about some of the characters. There are certain team members he likes less than others. But when he turns in pages, his depictions of those characters are among my favorites!
After Greg's initial five issues, Ken Lashley will be joining the book for a bit.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the “M-Pox” and the way the Terrigen Mists affect mutants?
Bunn: The M-Pox is an ever-present threat in the world. Any mutant exposed to the Terrigen Mists runs the risk of contracting this deadly illness. And the Terrigen Mists are basically roaming around the world. That makes for dangerous times. But, while the M-Pox and Terrigen Mists are part of my story, they really serve as backdrop for other adventures. For example, in the first arc, we see that the recent troubles with the Terrigen Mists and the declining mutant population spur the Dark Riders, formerly in the employ of Apocalypse, into action. They are pursuing a rather deadly, rather grim objective. While the Terrigen Mists and M-Pox kindled the fire, they are not a huge part of the story from that point forward.
Nrama: Bottom line, what can readers expect in Uncanny X-Men as it continues?
Bunn: This is a weird choice of characters to make up the Uncanny X-Men, but I'm hoping readers will get the feel of the classic X-Men stories of the days of old! Lots of adventure, action, globe-trotting, romance, tragedy, interpersonal drama, and mystery. I've developed a long game-plan for each and every character in the series, and I'll be seeding hints of mysteries and adventures to come from the very first issue. Many of these side stories will be playing out, alongside the main story lines, for a long while to come.