Writer: Steve Orlando
Art: Lorenzo Tammetta & Sara Pichelli
Colors: Frank William
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Russell Dauterman
Variant Covers: W. Scott Forbes; Oscar Vega
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: September 6, 2023
The heart of SCARLET WITCH is character examination. Whether it be Wanda, those that need her help, or the nominal antagonists, the series is at its strongest when that is the core of the issue. SCARLET WITCH #8 leans harder than ever into this idea.
Arkin, a mountain giant of Jotunheim, wants Wanda’s help to ascend to the leadership of his realm–a position currently held by Loki. SCARLET WITCH #8 follows Wanda and Joseph as they attempt to fulfill Arkin’s desire. Joseph finds himself in combat on the frozen planes of Jotunheim while Wanda approaches Loki directly. She seeks to convince Loki via dialogue to give up the throne, and to improve her odds she casts a truth hex on Loki, compelling them not to lie for an hour. This leads to a duel of truth telling to determine who will rule Jotunheim–Loki or Arkin.
Readers often reflexively think of Loki as a dishonest character, and certainly that’s a noteworthy part of their character. It makes the pairing of Loki with Wanda an interesting choice because Orlando has written Wanda as a largely open and honest character to this point. As a result, when Wanda casts the spell on Loki at the start of their encounter, there’s a kind of humorous comeuppance–”Isn’t it funny that Loki won’t be able to lie.” But SCARLET WITCH #8 issue goes in a wildly unexpected direction, though.
Readers know Loki for their dishonesty, but the character is at their most uninteresting when honest. Orlando writes them bluntly here. Loki’s truths peel them like an onion, and it contrasts nicely with Wanda whose truths don’t feel as revelatory. It creates a surprising urgency in the scene. Wanda’s dialogue acting almost as speed bumps to what we continue to learn about Loki.
The end of their duel is especially compelling because the two characters find their way to what might be a mutual truth. The question is whether that truth is compatible with who the two characters are at their core. Orlando takes us to this moment between the characters but before there can be true resolution one of them concedes, short circuiting any resolution and leaving it hanging over both of their heads. This sequence is far more interesting than the plot which feels like more of an excuse to create this Loki/Wanda interaction than something worth caring about for its own sake.
The Art & Letters
Loki is charming in SCARLET WITCH #8, and a large part of that is owed to Tammetta and Pichelli. When Wanda first arrives and casts the truth telling spell on Loki, they have a look of insouciance that turns into a light playfulness over a few panels. Their eyes widen and the shading around them drops. The direction of the shading around their mouth sweeps upward implying a smile. As the truth telling duel continues, those same techniques result in the playfulness giving way to greater seriousness. The shading on their face changes direction which results in Loki’s smile dropping. Shading is added to the eyes creating a more downcast expression. Then, as Loki and Wanda approach that moment of mutual truth, the shading drops completely and Loki’s look is suddenly gentle and inviting–almost vulnerable. All of that is lost in the next panel when the short circuited resolution leads Loki to pull back and more liberal linework creates a look of shock.
Tammetta and Pichelli’s work is largely good with the issue’s various characters, but Loki is something special. Loki and Wanda dance their way through the truth telling duel. Rather than draw in a background for them to move against, they’re simply set against a field of color. The background is split with a purple-red over one part of it and a light blue over the other. A hazy comingling of the colors establish the border. As the characters move and speak, the colors shift. As the duel draws to a close and one eventually wins, the background shifts entirely to their particular color. It’s a creative way to visually depict a duel that is a series of dialogue.
SCARLET WITCH #8 is very text heavy–perhaps not surprising given that the conflict between Wanda and Loki is entirely based on dialogue. Petit once again showcases his strength in both organizing the dialogue to not interfere with art but also to keep the eye tracking in an obvious path–especially critical during the duel. Not only does he not interfere with Tammetta and Pichelli’s art, but he also lets William’s background field of colors shine.
This is an absolutely charming issue. The plot elements are secondary (and feel somewhat insubstantial) compared to the interaction between Loki and Wanda. SCARLET WITCH #8 showcases the series’ strength in character exploration. It is an outstanding issue and wonderful for new readers to check out.