Scarlet Witch #1 review

Wanda Maximoff begins her latest run, a five-issue mini-series, taking on a long-forgotten Marvel villain.

Having shown Dr Hydro who’s the boss, Wanda waves away the regalia of the Scarlet Witch as she returns to her new venture, the Emporium magic shop. After greeting assistant Darcy, an uninvited – but not entirely unwelcome – guest arrives.

Wanda explains that her new venture is her way of balancing past mistakes – she can guide people in the use of small spells, but if they’re in big trouble, there’s The Last Door.

And soon, the door opens, bringing an Italian woman whose town has been taken over by another obscure Marvel bad guy.

The Corruptor! Now there’s a deep cut, an old Nova adversary, if memory serves. Here, rather than played as originally, with his chemical sweat turning folk dark, he’s presented as a Purple Man stand-in, apparently no longer needing to touch people to turn them. Could be writer Steve Orlando wanted to use Killgrave, but he’s busy elsewhere. Regardless, the Corrupter is about as much of a threat to Wanda as was Dr Hydro, her sorcerous ability and knowledge making her very much his mistress. Wanda’s sheer power, and the vague nature of any limits on it, could make for a series without drama, but I trust Orlando to come up with the goods. This very issue he introduces something that can resist her powers, let’s see where that goes. And the Corrupter’s taunts show she can be caught off guard.

The vibe of this series nicely chimes with that of James Robertson’s superb Scarlet Witch series of a few years back, with the emphasis on Wanda as a sane centre in the worlds of mystical madness rather than a massively powerful, horribly unstable magical banana skin. The interplay with brother Pietro – who’s also had his moments of megalomania – is an unexpected delight, and there’s a mystery around shop assistant Darcy that bears watching. Given how the excellent art of Sara Pichelli portrays her, I’m assuming this is the gal from the Thor films and WandaVision TV show played by Kat Dennings. Let’s hope legendary lothario Quicksilver doesn’t make a play for her – she would crush him beneath her booted heel.

The issue closes with someone else coming through Marvel’s very own Doorway to Nightmare, and they’re going to make for some emotional fireworks.

I hope enough people enjoy and make a noise about this debut that more folk try it, because Orlando has a real knack for doing something new while cheering old fans with ancient character drops, and Pichelli’s expressive art makes Wanda’s world a welcoming one… just look at Pietro’s face throughout, and the modern spin she gives his traditional Clea cut.

Pichelli gets an inking assist from Elisabetta D’Amico while colourist Matthew Wilson finds a fine balance between naturalistic and mystical. Cory Petit letters, because of course he does, and he does a splendid job. Anthony Gambino is behind the sharp production design.

The only thing I’m not mad keen on here is the way Wanda’s hair now does a Starfire, her curls turning into a special effect that apologises for the lack of a cape. Just give Wanda her cloak back, I say. The costume tweaks are courtesy of cover artist Russell Dauterman, and showcased on a much-appreciated feature page. I like her look overall, it’s just the starfield perm that jars.

A question. Orlando tells us Wanda has relocated to ‘Lotkill, New York’. I’m OK with that not being a real place – I’m a DC fan – but I fear I’m missing a reference. Anybody?

Like Hank Pym, Wanda is a character often dragged down by ‘her’ mistakes, that is, the unfortunate decisions of the writers. Here she gets as much of a clean slate as is possible in a comic universe determined to acknowledge 60 years of history, and the result is an engrossing, great-looking comic book. Give it a try.

7 thoughts on “Scarlet Witch #1 review

  1. The book looks great! I’ll keep an eye out for it on MU in a few months. And I had no idea Darcy was in WandaVision!

    As for Lotkill, there are a lot of towns in NY that end in kill, an anglicization of kille, a Dutch word for creek or stream. I don’t know where Lot comes from, though.

    Interestingly enough, back when he created Bludhaven in Nightwing, Chuck Dixon was a PA resident (he might still be, I don’t know)… and created the city’s prison, called Lockhaven. Lock Haven is a town in Central PA, which I only know because my brothers used to face them in wrestling matches a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I dreaded this when I read the credits TBH. Marauders by Orlando has been the second worst book I’ve read from Marvel since Orlando took over (it was worst but X-Terminators came about) and it was the book I read before this. It still read as very arch to me but it was more simple and well written than anything other Marvel book yet by Orlando. I liked his Petro too. The man often acts like a total asshole but he loves his sister and is a hero. The megalomania was always outside forces and/or Englehart. I did spend the book thinking Darcy was Strange’s Zelma though. Two well used Z level villains and acknowledging the twins’ new origin and Robinson’s own rehab work was an excellent start. I’m all in for the next four issues!

    Liked by 1 person

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