Scarlet Witch #1 to 15 (2016)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Most of the new kids
Colors: The rest of the new kids
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: David Aja
Review by PeteR
“Thou Shalt Not Suffer A Witch To Live.” Exodus 22:18
The Scarlet Witch has been a continuity pain in the butt since she first appeared in X-Men #4 from 1964. She was initially indebted to Magneto, who had rescued her from a European village that was going to destroy her because she was a witch. “She is a scarlet witch. She must be destroyed!” was cried out by a local peasant. Eventually, Wanda Maximoff, unable to condone Magnetos’s evil ways, deserts him and along with her brother Pietro Maximoff, joins the Avengers as of issue #16 (1965).
From that point forward, the Scarlet Witch’s story arc goes off the rails. She has been romantically linked to the Vision (who she married), Hawkeye, Simon Williams, Captain America and even Doctor Doom. Who her parents are, Magneto, Miss America, Robert Frank (the Whizzer), Django and Marya Maximoff (adopted?) is unclear. What are her powers? Is she a mutant, a witch, an agent of chaos or something created by the High Evolutionary? Then there is the question of her children. While married to the android, Vision (key word “android”), she becomes pregnant and has two sons. She eventually learns they were not real. In an attempt to spare her from the pain of losing her children, Agatha Harness temporarily wipes Wanda’s memory of them. I’m still not entirely clear on how Young Avengers, Wiccan and Speed thought they were the reincarnated children of Wanda, since the sons were a magical fabrication she created.
Wanda is by then an emotional time bomb waiting to go off. This eventually leads to the “No more mutants!” storyline. Trying to make her pain go away, Wanda, goaded by her brother Quicksilver (being his usual all-around ass), magically hexes away all of the mutants on Earth with the exception of 194.
Everything described above is just a topical recitation of the wacky and sometimes nonsensical history of Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. It is from this disaster of a chronology that writer James Robinson decided to take some glue, scotch tape and a great deal of imagination to make into a coherent storyline. James Robinson is the perfect choice to attempt such a Herculean task of storytelling. He has previously created amazing histories for Starman, Hawkman and the Shade.
In James Robinson’s Scarlet Witch, Wanda, along with the ghost of Agatha Harness (who Wanda kind of killed) begins a journey to seek redemption for her past deeds. In her quest to solve magic based problems around the globe, she learns that witchcraft, as an (un)natural source is broken. It is up to her (not Doctor Strange, Brother Voodoo or even Mordred the Mystic) to find out why and how witchcraft is broken and, of course, fix it. There is a consequence to her using her powers though. Although she keeps the visual effects in a mirror, straight out of The Picture of Dorian Grey, every time Wanda uses her magic, it drains her life force, causing her to rapidly age.
It’s difficult to describe the art and coloring for the fifteen issue Scarlett Witch series. Vanesa Del Rey provides the art and Jordie Bellaire colors for issues one and fifteen. Each of the other thirteen issues have art and coloring provided by different creators. Much like Warren Ellis’s Global Frequency, changing the artistic talent of each comic highlights the different tonality of that particular issues tale.
The only other creative consistencies of the Scarlett Witch series is the lettering of VC’s Cory Petit and the striking covers by David Aja. As intriguing as James Robinson’s story is, it’s David Aja’s covers that sell the series. Each cover is rendered using only white, red and black. The covers of issues #6, #10 and #12 are particularly brilliant.
Why you should buy this book? Mangling a cliché, James Robinson’s Scarlet Witch takes a bushel of pigs’ ears and weaves them into a silk duffel bag. He is able to blend fifty plus years of convoluted storylines and condense them into a coherent and enticing narrative. The use of different artist in each issue heightens the atmosphere of every comic, all packaged by amazing cover art by David Aja. If your local comic shop does not have all the back issues in stock, the saga has been reprinted in three trade paperbacks, the final having been released on May 2, 2017.
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