Scarlet Witch #1 does what other Wanda-focused Marvel stories have yet to accomplish: it tells a cohesive, Bechdel Test-approved story that pulls together elements from the witch’s on-screen and comic book history. If you haven’t read Wanda’s first solo title in seven years yet, beware of the main review because it contains a whole emporium full of spoilers; however, there is a spoiler-light review of Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #8 if you scroll down to the Rapid Rundown!
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Scarlet Witch #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: Sara Pichelli
Inking Assistant: Elisabetta D’Amico
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Cory Petit
Main Cover & Updated Costume: Russell Dauterman
I am a full-blown Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch, stan. In fact, I was Wanda stan before it was cool (obvi, because no cool person would ever let that sentence go to print), when all the mutant fans would ex-communicate you for even whispering her name. Before Wanda’s suicidal redemption arc in 2022’s Trial of Magneto by Leah Williams, the X-fandom was grossly, aggressively unwelcoming to fans of “The Great Pretender.” But for me, she is more than that, as Elizabeth Olsen‘s interpretation of the character changed my life forever (literally, read about it on Comics Bookcase). Until the character becomes a TERF, I am a die-hard Wanda stan for life. #MakeMineMarvel
Despite Scarlet Witch repeatedly being dealt a dirty hand by the men writing her during her 50+ year history, Lizzie’s interpretation of the character on-screen has been a powerful reclamation of the feminist potential of the character. However, since Orlando, Cian Tormey, Roberto Poggi, Marc Deering, Walden Wong, Jesus Aburtov, and Clayton Cowles concluded the Darkhold Saga almost exactly one year ago today, Scarlet Witch fans haven’t seen this powerful, feminist version of Wanda on the page.
So I’ve been eagerly awaiting this comic book since it was announced. Much of my love for the Marvel Comics version of Scarlet Witch in 2022 hinged on, “At least Orlando is returning to write the character in a year. She’ll be fine in his capable hands,” a lot of pressure for the first issue of any solo series. Luckily, the feminist potential of the character is achieved in Scarlet Witch #1, reflecting the character’s on-screen development in 2021’s WandaVision and 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Who is Scarlet Witch?
For those reading this who aren’t Scarlet Witch mainstays, she first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1964’s X-Men #4 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Paul Reinman, and Art Simek (in fact, Wanda’s store, “The Emporium,” is located at 1964 Main St.). Although Wanda was initially a member of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, she questioned the group’s core ideology from day one: she used her hex powers to stop Magneto from blasting the X-Men out of an airlock, questioned Erik Magnus’ use of fear tactics and murder, and scolded the Master of Magnetism for allowing innocent people to get harmed in his fight for mutant justice.
Of course, all of Wanda’s advice was ignored repeatedly by Magneto, who told his adopted daughter to spare him her “weak whimperings” — but now, with Orlando at the helm and Darcy Lewis by her side (yes, like Agent Phil Coulson before her, Darcy Lewis has managed to cross the MCU/616 divide), Wanda can move beyond the days of being a “proud mutant maid” fighting over a man with “graceful grim rage!” (For an early example of this, see 1974’s Avengers #126 by Steve Englehart, Bob Brown, Dave Cockrum, John Costanza, and D. Goldberg.)
Although Wanda is a long-time Marvel Comics character, she rarely appears in her solo titles. After spending slightly less than 30 years of her storybook life attached to a man, Wanda’s first solo series, Scarlet Witch by Andy Lanning, Dan Abnett, John Higgins, Mark McKenna, Kevin Somers, and Jim Novak, launched in November 1993 and was a tale of two witches.
In the story, Agatha Harkness is an integral mentor to Wanda, offering insight and guidance as she undertakes her hero’s journey. Without veering into Speculation Land for more than two lines, I hope to see Orlando and Pichelli take Wanda and Darcy on a similar apprenticeship journey. Plus, if you add Wanda’s sorta daughter to the mix, Viv Vision, we get the Witches Three (which would be a nice call back to Wanda’s relationship with her Romani mother from the 2015 solo series, Scarlet Witch, written by James Robinson).
In Scarlet Witch #1, Orlando and Pichelli pull from continuity old and new to weave a tale that is both full of continuity while simultaneously transcending its historically characteristic limitations. This inaugural issue represents the foundation for an intricate, well-woven tapestry… and hopefully one that will run more than 6 or 12 issues.
Wanda’s Past: Pietro Maximoff and the Half-Human Child
One element of Scarlet Witch’s continuity that comes into play in this issue is her relationship with her brother Pietro Maximoff, a.k.a. Quicksilver, and his daughter, Luna, who he had with his ex-wife, the Inhuman princess, Crystal. Both women, Wanda and Luna, have complicated relationships with Quicksilver. This issue includes a few key lines of exposition that indicate those thorny familiar dynamics will play an integral role in the coming panels.
So who is Luna? Named after her birthplace on the Moon, Luna Maximoff was originally believed to be powerless. However she was later revealed to be a powerful empath when her father kidnapped her and exposed her to the Terrigen Mists against her will (and against the advice of the Inhuman Royal Council). Her empath powers allow her to sense, remove, and alter the emotions of others at will.
Like her aunt, Luna’s relationship with the Maximoff men is somewhat toxic, with Pietro hating that his daughter is half-human and lying to her repeatedly. In fact, Luna’s relationship was so bad with her father after he lied to the Inhumans about stealing the Terrigen Crystals that she cut off contact with him. Eventually Quicksilver owned up to his deceptions on national television, and his actions so moved Luna that the two fully reconciled (and in Scarlet Witch #1, they still appear to be reconciled).
Later, Pietro’s daughter began attending classes at the Braddock Academy in England (yes, that Braddock, a.k.a. Captain Britain). After most Inhumans died, Luna relocated to a secret location with the rest of her people. She was last seen in Marvel Comics giving advice to “Uncle Johnny” in Fantastic Four #32, “Bride of Doom, Part 1: Rules of Engagement,” by Dan Slott, R.B. Silva, Aburtov, and Joe Caramagna.
Wanda’s Present: Darcy Lewis and The Last Door
Scarlet Witch #1 is the definition of “en media res,” even in a fourth-wall leaning capacity. Just like Marc Spector and his Midnight Mission in 2021’s Moon Knight #1, Wanda has already set herself up in a new situation that puts her in the perfect position to help her community. Better yet, this set-up already comes with a person she’s in the middle of helping: Darcy, whose connection to Wanda is largely informed by her supporting role in 2021’s WandaVision.
In WandaVision, Wanda’s grief process is unwittingly compartmentalizing her trauma in others’ brains. When she comes back from The Blip, without the Vision to pull her back or the coping skills to handle her emotions, the overwhelming waves of sadness are too much for her brain to handle and she unleashes Chaos Magic on the town of Westview. In contrast, the villain of the inaugural issue, the “Uncanny” Corruptor, a.k.a. Jackson Day, who first appeared in 1976’s Nova #4 by Marv & Michele Wolfman, Sal Buscema, Tom Palmer, Denise Wohl, and Irving Watanabe, unleashes his trauma and inner ugliness on the world by “forcing small, repressed people to confront how they really feel.”
The Corruptor is the perfect villain for Scarlet Witch’s present, as his story touches on her history in both the MCU and Marvel Comics. Jackson Day began as a factory worker for a pharmaceutical company specializing in psychoactive chemicals in Jamaica, Queens. But after a fire broke out inside the factory’s chemical supply room, Day was doused with a massive dose of the chemicals, transforming him into the malevolent persona known as the Corruptor. The exposure not only turned his skin blue but unleashed man’s most evil tendencies, granting him the ability to subvert the wills of almost anyone he touches (e.g., Thor, Nova, and Hulk).
Seeking a home where he is free to live among those he has corrupted (the only company he ever has or will know), Scarlet Witch #1 isn’t the first time Marvel readers have seen the Corruptor take over a city. In 2005’s New Warriors #6 by Zeb Wells, Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, and Randy Gentile, Day returned to his hometown, Smyrna, Delaware, and quickly set himself up as mayor. Using flowers grown in his harvested sweat, he released his chemical influence over the entire town and took control until the New Warriors uncovered his scheme on reality television, adding to the WandaVision parallels.
These WandaVision parallels fit neatly with the inclusion of Darcy, who only got to admire Wanda from afar onscreen, but gets to work closely alongside her in this storyline. Plus, in the issue’s final pages, there is a teaser that there is something more to Darcy’s inclusion in this story, and I’m eager to see how that plays out.
Wanda’s Future: Viv Vision and Anti-Magic Stone
Created by Vision, the android hero Viv Vision first appeared in 2015’s Vision #1 by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Bellaire, and Cowles. Vision used Wanda’s brain patterns to make Viv’s mother, Virginia’s mind, then created Viv from a combination of his and Virginia’s minds. Viv shares her father’s powers and ambition to be ordinary. Like her mother(s), Viv has already shown her willingness to sacrifice herself for the greater good — and now, I’m excited for her to put that past behind her.
While the relationship between Viv and Wanda is unusual, Wanda is no stranger to weird associations with the next generation. Her twin children, Billy and Tommy, were originally created out of nothing, vanished, and were later reborn to different parents. Nevertheless, they still consider Wanda to be (one of) their mother(s); in 2015’s New Avengers #11 by Al Ewing, Gerardo Sandoval, Dona Sánchez Almara, and Caramagna, Billy and his then-boyfriend Hulkling even seek Wanda’s advice, which is naturally served alongside a steaming cup of tea (a witchy specialty).
In other words, Viv arriving at the Emporium to receive Wanda’s advice is in line with the Scarlet Witch’s continuity, while simultaneously taking the narrative in a fresh direction by examining the previously unexplored relationship between the teenage synthezoid and her other mother Wanda (Viv’s “bio mom” committed suicide at the end of King’s Vision series).
Overall, a solid start to Scarlet Witch’s first solo series in a while. As I close The Last Door, I dream of being somewhere that’s Scarlet.
VERDICT: BUY! This issue and the next one.
- Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #8
- Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, along with artist Carmen Carnero and color artists Nolan Woodard up the ante as the Outer Circle uses A.I.M. to trap Lower Manhattan in a force field. New Mayor Luke Cage, the Avengers, and Thunderbolts are on standby as Steve Rodgers and his band of resistance fighters recover from a psychic attack that has them missing 5 days. Not as action-packed as the last few issues but is offset by the level of drama and humor, giving readers a breather for the next chapter in the Invader storyline. Completely worth it for the white Captain America line and the psychic call that Steve makes for help. – GC3
Marvel Comics’s Scarlet Witch #1 is available now. Pick it up at your local comic book retailer or download it online. Additional reporting by Agatha Harkness fangirl Avery Kaplan.