Scarlet Witch #1 Review

Writer: Steve Orlando

Art: Sara Pichelli

Inking Assist: Elisabetta D’Amico

Colors: Matthew Wilson

Letters: VC’s Cory Petit

Cover: Russell Dauterman

Variant Covers: Elena Casagrande & Jordie Bellaire; Ivan Tao; Adam Hughes; Pepe Larraz; Tom Reilly; Takashi Okazaki & Rico Renzi

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: 4.99

Release Date: January 4th, 2023

If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Scarlet Witch #1 Review.

The Dispatch

Wanda Maximoff’s history complicated. It largely began when she went insane and destroyed the Avengers. Then she altered reality and depowered most mutants. Since then the character has mostly been on a nonstop apology tour (with a detour along the way to call into question her mutant heritage). Her new stories are almost always rooted in events her character can’t seem to escape. But if SCARLET WITCH #1 is any indication, Wanda’s story might finally be changing as Steve Orlando appears poised to give the character a fresh start, unshackled by her past.

SCARLET WITCH #1 starts off with the unassuming idea of Wanda owning her own curiosities shop. Making a fresh start in a small New York town, she’s more focused on how she can help individuals. To that end, Wanda has included as part of her shop a mystical device of her own creation. The Last Door, a combination spell and portal, seeks out people at their lowest point with nowhere else to turn. When it locates someone whop needs Wanda’s help it transports them to the shop via a literal doorway. Jarnette Chase is the Last Door’s first beneficiary. A new mayor capable of forcing everyone to do whatever he wants is corrupting Jarnette’s small Italian town. And she needs Wanda’s help.

Orlando’s story in SCARLET WITCH #1 is approachable and straightforward. He uses conversations first with Darcy and then with Pietro to establish Wanda’s new status quo over the first several pages. Since this is Pietro’s first encounter with Wanda’s shop, Orlando is able to deliver necessary exposition to the reader in a perfectly natural conversation. This may seem like a small thing, but a story tripping over itself to frontload information can kill momentum. This is never the case here because it never feels like activity is paused purely to provide the reader with information.

The plot is rather bare bones, but that works in the issue’s favor. Orlando gives us just enough to show off some of Wanda’s powers, lay in a few potential long term story elements (such as a magic-resistant pendant), and develop Wanda’s character in broad strokes via her response to friends and family, strangers, and threats.

SCARLET WITCH #1 lays groundwork to build Wanda up in further issues, largely in how it presents her shop, but it doesn’t deliver a lot of character development. Indeed, what is conspicuously omitted is far more interesting than what’s included. Orlando spends no time lingering on Wanda’s past controversial actions or any of her various efforts at rehabilitation since. Readers coming to the title fresh won’t be confronted with any of her baggage. This makes Wanda very easy to engage with and hopefully signals that the character is going to truly move forward rather than continuing a loop of accountability for actions taken years ago.

The Art

Pichelli’s work is largely effective in the issue. Her depiction of Wanda, especially in costume, is captivating. Pichelli’s art, combined with D’Amico’s inks and Wilson’s colors, create a Scarlet Witch of subtlety and power. The most striking effect is how Wanda’s hair bleeds into a kind of mystical con trail as she moves from panel to panel, fading in shade the further away from her that it extends. Wanda’s costume has similar coloring. The result is an organic blend of ability and appearance. There’s a kind of uniformity that suggests Wanda isn’t just a person possessing power, she herself is power. This visual presentation of Wanda simply being is more informative than a flashy two page spread of the character surrounded by mystical effects.

Somewhat less effective, though, is Pichelli’s work on Pietro. Certainly Wanda and Pietro are being depicted feisty to the point of mischievous which, for the tone of the story, works. But Pietro comes across much younger than Wanda. At one point he has lines of dialogue about his daughter Luna, and in that particular panel it felt very out of place because Pietro looks barely older than a teenager. Wanda doesn’t share this problem. Pichelli is able to give that same exuberance to without having to draw her significantly younger in appearance.

Final Thoughts

SCARLET WITCH #1 is a promising first issue. It’s light on character development, but that isn’t a huge drawback. There are enough character moments to drive curiosity in future issues, and it avoids continuity messiness that is as likely to turn readers off as it is to engage them. What really drives the series’ potential is the concept of the Last Door. Making it untethered from specific corners of the Marvel universe (magic, mutants, cosmic, etc.) keeps storytelling possibilities remain wide open. The series’ only real limit is how imaginative Orlando can be when it comes to the characters stepping through that door.

9.0/10

2 thoughts on “Scarlet Witch #1 Review

  1. This sounds absolutely awful. I guess this goes with the status quo of less than mediocre with marvel. Remember when comics used to be fun written by people who liked comics?

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