Writer: Steve Orlando, Stephanie Renee Williams (backup)
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Penciler: Sara Pichelli, Christopher Allen (backup)
It’s exciting when a new book starts with a clear vision. It’s especially rare for Marvel or DC, when constantly shifting creative teams, disruptive line-wide events, and the sheer number of titles make it difficult to find finely-tuned stories from dedicated writers and artists. We’re only two issues into Steve Orlando and Sara Pichelli’s Scarlet Witch, but the book has already demonstrated the potential to join Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye, Zdarsky and Checchetto’s Daredevil, and other character-defining modern runs. What makes Scarlet Witch all the more impressive is the fact that the book isn’t just well-written or stupidly beautiful. It’s effectively reestablishing one of the studio’s most popular but mismanaged heroes of the last 25 years.
The last door is a brilliant storytelling device. It provides a get-out-of-jail-free card whenever the creative team is short on ideas. It can provide any in-need individual in the Marvel universe at any time, along with a limitless supply of magic-themed monster-of-the-week threats for Wanda to tangle with. Yet, it’s so much more: Wanda is better, but parts of her are still broken; the last door allows her to use her magic, the cause of so much pain and destruction, to heal others while ridding the world of dark, dangerous forces.
Wanda’s visitor in Scarlet Witch #2 is not just anyone, but her estranged, kind of half-daughter Viv Vision. Viv’s presence underscores Orlando’s understanding of Wanda’s position in Marvel Comics and how many loose ends she needs to tie up. Multiple villains have already thrown Wanda’s past in her face in hopes of eliciting rage, but Scarlet Witch remains conciliatory yet unwilling to remain chained to old mistakes.
Similarly, her interactions with Viv are written with a careful mix of sweetness and clinical hostility. Viv, like the book itself, is offering Wanda a clear yet long, uncertain road to redemption, and Wanda has no qualms or reservations about taking that path with gusto. Even the backup story with Storm serves to show that one of the world’s most powerful and iconic mutants, one who admittedly voted against Wanda’s most recent resurrection, again considers Scarlet Witch a friend and ally.
Orlando’s clear understanding of Wanda’s character and role would mean nothing in an ugly book. Fortunately, Sara Pichelli is something of a witch herself. Scarlet Witch looks like pure magic.
Pichelli draws sleek, rakish figures and wistful, romantic faces. The style is a perfect match for Wanda, though Pichelli’s lines and Matthew Wilson’s colors can explode in a glory of chaos when Scarlet Witch starts casting spells. Wilson’s colors cannot be overlooked, whether it’s his transparency techniques for different magical effects or his rich, tactile textures. Scarlet Witch #2 lacks some of the snappier layouts from the first issue, but that’s largely because there’s no room for negative space when two sorceresses are filling the pages with brilliant curses and enchantments.
Scarlet Witch #3 is out next month and looks to begin something of an arc for the series. I’m all for it, but I hope the creative team does not lose sight of how well the current structure is working.
Scarlet Witch #2
- Clear narrative direction.
- Reestablishing Wanda Maximoff.
- Gorgeous, detailed art.
- No recurring role for Viv.