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X-Men Blue: Empire Emerging

Cullen Bunn sheds some light on how mutants fit into Hydra’s regime!

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The time-displaced original Children of the Atom make up the X-Men Blue team, with Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, Angel, and Iceman working alongside their former archenemy Magneto. While it’s hard enough adjusting to a new era, these kids and their formerly villainous ally now also have a Secret Empire to contend with.

Where to even start?

We asked X-MEN: BLUE writer Cullen Bunn about issue #7, available July 12!

Marvel.com: First off, how has writing X-MEN: BLUE been different from some of the other X-Men projects you’ve worked on before?

Cullen Bunn: It’s interesting, because I was writing UNCANNY X-MEN and when I got the call that we were going to be shifting over to X-MEN: BLUE and it would be the original five time lost characters. I’ve been pretty honest with this—my first reaction was not overjoyed. Because as much as I love those characters, they’re not what I would consider my X-Men. Like, they weren’t from the era that I really got into X-Men. So I was a little hesitant! I wasn’t sure I was the right guy to write the book.

As I started writing those characters, though, and putting them through the stories I’d been planning on telling, I’ve become more and more excited about them. I’m glad that this is the team I’m writing, because they have a completely different dynamic and viewpoint on the world; I’m able to tell kind of “classic” X-Men adventures and “uncanny” adventures. I’ve come to really love writing these characters now.

Marvel.com: You kind of got to make them your own, then! So, now that we’re all nice and emotionally invested in these guys, how will the Secret Empire affect them?

Cullen Bunn: Well, without giving too much away…as we’ve seen in SECRET EMPIRE, California has been ceded to mutants as a new mutant homeland. On the surface, that looks great! It’s an opportunity for mutants and homo sapiens to live in peace together. But, as we’ll find in X-MEN: BLUE, that’s not necessarily playing out the way it’s supposed to. It’s definitely a situation where we have mutants in power and that power is sort of a corrupting force. It plays to X-Men Blue for a number of reasons.

First of all, Magneto—who’s acting as sort of a mentor for the X-Men—has said recently that he does not believe the idea of a mutant utopia works. He’s seen it backfire in horrible ways time and time again, and he keeps getting drawn back into that, lured into this idea of a mutant paradise; it is a dream [of his], but now he doesn’t think that dream will ever come true. He thinks that a place like New Tian is a disaster waiting to happen, and he wants no part of it from that perspective.

We have also seen, however, that Magneto and the X-Men Blue team have a beef with Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw and certain characters that are entrenched in this new mutant regime. And what we’re gonna see in X-MEN: BLUE is the new X-Men team almost as a rebel force at work inside New Tian.

Marvel.com: Will the Blue team take on the larger Secret Empire plotlines as well?

Cullen Bunn: There’s definitely some parallels with what’s happening in New Tian and what’s going on in the Marvel Universe as a whole, but I wanted to focus on it mainly from a mutant perspective. Again, without giving away too many spoilers, there’s a villain that shows up in these issues who I feel has a direct correlation with what’s going on with Steve Rogers and is cut from very similar cloth story-wise and we definitely lean into that to shore up those parallels even more.

Marvel.com: That’s so cool! It sort of unifies the different threads of the Marvel Universe narratively, like, a microcosm? Or even just winking at another storyline that’s happening.

Cullen Bunn: Yeah! The goal with these tie-ins for me is always that a reader can continue reading X-MEN: BLUE and not get thrown off too much by the events of the Marvel Universe. But this is such a big event! Things are changing in such monumental ways, there’s no way to [avoid it]. But I wanted to make sure that we’re seeing [that] story from a distinctively mutant point of view while not ignoring what’s going on in the world at large.

Marvel.com: So let’s talk Magneto. How is such a powerful character fitting into all this Secret Empire hubbub? Is he joining, holding back, fighting against it?

Cullen Bunn: We talked a lot about Magneto early on in the discussion about what’s going on in the world of Secret Empire and really, Magneto seems to be sitting this one out. For reasons of his own, he has struck a bargain that he’s just going to sit this one out and not interfere, and he’s agreed to that.

However.

The X-Men team is there in New Tian, and they’re obviously not just sitting back. Now, then the question will come—are they working on Magneto’s orders or against what Magneto wants? As the tie-in goes on I think there’s even a question posed like, don’t you think Magneto would have prepared for this? And we see some pretty big changes among the team itself as some of those contingencies begin to come into play.

Marvel.com: So it might be that he has something up his sleeve?

Cullen Bunn: Well, Magneto always has something up his sleeve. I think we’re gonna have come interesting interactions. He’s definitely taking a back seat in this tie-in and you don’t see him getting a lot of [face] time, but his actions are pretty important to the story and they’ll shape the X-Men Blue team after this event. And when we do finally see Magneto, I think we have an interesting interaction between Magneto and Steve Rogers in the arc that I’m pretty excited about.

Marvel.com: I know that you’ve been writing Magneto for a while, so I’m sure you’ll do him justice. After all, you know him pretty well—you guys are on, like, a first-name basis.

Cullen Bunn: [Laughs] I do kind of feel like I have a handle on where he’s coming from and how he would see what’s been going on in the world, but I also know that Magneto…he knows that, if he disagrees with this, it’s not something he can go into with guns blazing, so to speak, because that would fail. He’s got to be a little cagier about what he’s doing.

Marvel.com: How is the team reacting to this pseudo-utopia? Like, how are they taking it?

Cullen Bunn: Well, they’re not taking it well. [Laughs] It’s not going well for them. It’s a weird situation for them because here’s this place that should be a safe haven for mutants and yet they find themselves struggling against that very ideal.

In fact, I’ve often said that, to some degree, the world that they’re in right now? The New Tian mutant utopia is almost like their Days of Futures Past. They are seeing the world they’ve always been afraid they’d see happen, but they never expected these threats and these dangers to be coming from a mutant source to the degree that it is.

As well get into the first issue, we’re seeing the X-Men dealing with mutants who’ve been imprisoned and who are scheduled for psychic reconditioning because they don’t support the law of the land. That’s the kind of thing that scares the hell out of them, and they just can’t sit back and let it happen.

See how it all plays out this summer in X-MEN BLUE #7 by Cullen Bunn and Cory Smith, available July 12.