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Cullen Bunn On The Last Days Of Magneto

Paolo Rivera

I recently had the chance to speak with Cullen Bunn, author of a number of ongoing comic books, including The Sixth Gun, Hellbreak, and Harrow County. He’s also the writer of Magneto from Marvel comics, and in the following interview we go in depth on that book. Marvel is beginning a large crossover event in May called Secret Wars, and a lot of Marvel characters and titles are getting shuffled around and rebooted in ways that won’t yet be clear. Magneto in particular will tie into the event under the title Last Days of Magneto. This is the second part of my conversation with Bunn, the first part can be found here.

 Jason Brown, KRCU: It seems that the horror genre in in your wheelhouse, and your run of Magneto is certainly ominous at times, do you think horror is a good way to approach Magneto, and do you think that interested your editor?

Cullen Bunn: I think that may have been what was interesting to the editor in terms of my take on the character.  Because I said if I’m going to write Magneto, in this situation, I want to tell a story that’s very much a horror story with Magneto. Magneto’s always a character that people say, “is he villain, or is he a hero?” And for me I wanted to dance along that line, I wanted the reader to question that. I wanted some people who read to book to say he’s a hero here, and I wanted other people to say “no, he’s a villain,” and I wanted to change people’s minds throughout the course of the book. But for me, Magneto, whether he’s doing heroic things for villainous things… he’s a scary guy. I think the average person on the street would wet their pants instantly if they saw some guy twisting metal girders around and lifting cars up. It would be terrifying. I wanted to play with that idea of Magneto, whether he is through his actions or not, as a monster in terms of the way other people would see him.

Brown: I wanted to ask you about writing for comic events. For example in last year’s AXIS event, does your editor let you know that there’s an event that’s happening and do you then have to conform your story to it?

Bunn: Most of the time that’s how it works, though sometimes there’s less time than others…

Brown: Are they worried about spoilers? When do you get the reveal and do they withhold certain information to protect spoilers?

Bunn: I don’t know that they necessarily withhold it. I think sometimes the wheels are turning and things are changing rapidly for them. With Magneto I put in a sort of an outline of where I want to take the series over the course of 18 issues. I always try to think 12 to 18 issues is probably a good way to plan, things won’t change too much on me, and then after that I can plan another 12 to 18 issues. Of course then AXIS happens and my editor calls me and says we have to address this event. And in the case of AXIS there was some discussion of do we put Magneto in the event or not. But because of what was going on in AXIS with The Red Skull and Magneto’s involvement in other books, it just made sense to include him in that. The thing I wanted to do with it was to make sure that the tone of Magneto that I had tried to maintain over the first several issues was intact, even during the crossover elements. So I was trying to tell stories that worked with the mood of Magneto as I’d written it, even though it was tying into an event. Now in the case of the upcoming event, they weren’t necessarily secretive as much as just saying, “we’ve got Secret Wars coming up, and that means you need to write an arc called “The Last Days of Magneto.”

Credit David Yardin
Magneto #18 from Marvel comics. Cover art by David Yardin.

Brown: I wanted to ask you about Last Days. Your run of Magneto isn’t concluding with Secret Wars, is it?

Bunn: Here’s the part where I have to tell you I can’t answer that question. For one thing, I don’t necessarily want to. I know where things are going after Secret Wars. I want to leave the readers with some questions as they read Magneto #21, which is the final issue of the Last Days arch.

Brown: So you can’t speak as to whether or not that is the last Magneto for this run or not?

Bunn: I can’t even speak to the question of if it’s truly Magneto’s final days, or not. But he is dealing with the end of the world. And as you might expect someone with Magneto’s ego to think, he says “I am going to stop the world from ending.” The question is, can he, or is he just deluding himself?

Brown: So that puts him in the position of not only protecting mutants, but humankind as well?

Bunn: This is a situation where he says to himself “I have always said I’m going to protect mutants, that they would inherit the Earth, but in order to protect mutants here I also have to protect humanity.” He’s looking at his legacy over his long history, and Magneto’s legacy is something I’ve dealt with over the course of the entire series.

Brown: Are there any major characters who you’ve either never written or that you’ve not written enough that you’d like to work with?

Bunn: I have such a huge bucket-list of characters I want to work with. It’s hard to say “major” characters because there’s a lot of characters who are probably minor characters that I would really like. If I look at DC there’s characters like Swamp Thing, and Clarion the Witch Boy, and Etrigan the Demon; DC has a lot of supernatural characters I would love to get my hands on. Then with Marvel, there are a lot of the X-men characters I would love to write, who I’ve never been able to work into a story. I’d also still like to write Valkyrie who I wrote in a book called Fearless Defenders, and kind of fell in love with that character. You mentioned earlier the horror elements, there are a lot of Marvel horror-characters like Werewolf by Night that I would love to write as well. 

Credit Jason Brown
"Cullen was right."

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