Hooooo boy, ’90s fans! Are you ready for the “All-New” Scarlet Witch? You’re not, but you will be.
Scarlet Witch #1 (Marvel Comics)
Okay. Take a breath. This is a tough one. So after all the heroes came back, Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch went nuts and tore them all apart, leading to her creating a world in which her dad was finally in charge. That didn’t work out so well, so she performed the world’s largest genetic modification project instead. Monsanto was too afraid to sue. But then she used the cosmic firebird to undo it all, before finding out her dad isn’t actually her dad and having fun with the High Evolutionary. Along the way she may or may not have died, may or may not have had some kids, and had the definition of how her powers work change as many times as her costumes (hint: that means a lot).
Is It Good?
In Scarlet Witch #1, writer James Robinson has the unenviable task of parsing down what’s important to the character that’s often used more like a talking plot device. He comes up with yet ANOTHER explanation of her powers, one that we can only hope will stick this time, now that she’s finally unburdened from the mutant bloodline. This is a serious and thoughtful Wanda, looking to distance herself from the Avengers and proactively make an impact, rather than reacting to and cleaning up messes she’s made herself. Or so it seems.
We discover something we already know in this issue, the same thing Dr. Strange has told us — magic in the Marvel Universe is broken. Can a smaller property like this really survive as a B-plot to a bigger book? In this time of increased brand separation? And with a police procedural vibe, no less?
Robinson tries his best to convince us that it will, and does so in somewhat unRobinson-like fashion. Scarlet Witch #1 isn’t bogged down in too much plot, and that’s a good thing, as Wanda’s instead able to talk things out with a dearly-departed frenemy. There’s still some action to establish the series’ conceit, and that’s where the book really shines.
One of the ideas meant to set Scarlet Witch apart is rotating artists, a different one for each issue. Marvel newcomer Vanessa Del Rey is up first, and her sharp and harsh lines are a fine fit for the noir feel of this issue. The real brilliance comes from colorist Jordie Bellaire, though, who manages to give each character and scene personalized touches, almost like the auras Wanda mentions in the book’s beginning. That’s a really neat touch that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Scarlet Witch #1 starts a tough road to rehabilitating and reestablishing a much-maligned and battered character. In doing so, it falls into some standard tropes while doing things just differently enough to keep our interest. Kind of like the character herself. It’s hard to tell if rotating artists will be the book’s triumph or downfall, as the practice could be appreciated by those looking to broaden their horizons, but ignored by readers who crave consistency. If only Wanda’s powers could still alter probabilities.