Writer: Steve Orlando
Art: Carlos Nieto
Colors: Tríona Farrell
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Russell Dauterman
Variant Covers: George Pérez & Edgar Delgado; Rod Reis; Jim Cheung & Jay David Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 21, 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 Annual #1 Review.
Agatha Harkness is in town, but is there room for two witches in Lotkill? Agatha isn’t convinced Wanda is strong as she says. Orlando pits the two incredibly powerful women against each other in a battle to find out. SCARLET WITCH ANNUAL #1 depicts a fun contest between the two witches, and the issue despite being connected to a crossover.
Agatha Harkness arrives with a warning in SCARLET WITCH ANNUAL #1. She tells Wanda that most people and entities strong in magic have learned about her growing power. Is Wanda prepared for the threats she will face? Agatha intends to find out. To test her theory, Agatha drops a few Brood eggs into Wanda’s tea just to see how she’ll respond. From there the two witches have a magical fight across multiple planes of reality. The two ultimately come to a detente, but Wanda further shows off her power by revealing that she confined their battle to the time it took Darcy to speak two words. Impressed by Wanda’s capabilities, Agatha leaves. Or appears to.
SCARLET WITCH ANNUAL #1 opens with a fun bit where Wanda reveals to Darcy that she has a collection of demons frozen in pocket dimensions. They’re demons that come looking for Wanda–her demons, one might say. And in fact Wanda does. It’s a clever piece of writing from Orlando–a cute metaphor for a series that has largely avoided Wanda’s more complex and controversial backstory.
This entire issue reads as a mission statement on how powerful Wanda truly is. We’ve seen her stand against progressively stronger foes, but now she faces a character whose power might rival if not exceed her own. Orlando starts off on an ominous note as Agatha kills another magic user who wants Wanda for himself. Agatha is a danger, and we must take her seriously. As a result, when Wanda holds her own, we ascribe even greater power to her.
The issue’s final pages are a surprise. They are shocking. And under normal circumstances they’d provide an outstanding cliffhanger leading into the series’ next issue. But they lead into the Contest of Chaos, and there is a certain letdown in that because it means this very engaging Wanda story may be resolved by other characters in other books with other creative teams.
The Art & Letters
Nieto’s art is strong in SCARLET WITCH ANNUAL #1. There are times when it seems like characters’ expressions have been copy and pasted, but they are few. They don’t detract from the overall work in any serious way. That work is impressive, especially in how Wanda and Agatha are presented. Orlando’s story makes clear that these are two very powerful women. Nieto’s depiction of the two characters offers a clear suggestion about how the women wield their power. From expression to body language, Agatha has an air of danger around her in almost every panel. This contrasts with Wanda who is much more open.
Nieto accomplishes this in several ways, but perhaps most obvious is the eyes. Wanda’s are almost always wider than Agatha’s. It projects a general goodwill and is very inviting. Agatha’s are narrow, sometimes almost squinting. It’s a judgmental and arrogant look–which is, of course, how the character behaves.
Farrell maintains the series’ vibrant color palette here. There is more contrast than readers of the series might expect, but it works all the same. In some ways it is almost more suited to the battle between Wanda and Agatha which does not have the same measure of elegance to it that Wanda’s encounters have had to this point. These are two very powerful individuals, and the sharper edges of higher contrast reflect their strength.
Petit’s lettering is fairly standard here. But his choice to color code the dialogue boxes is especially useful in the final pages where our knowing who is speaking creates a sense of foreboding leading into the shocking final page.
Though branded as part of the upcoming Contest of Chaos, SCARLET WITCH ANNUAL #1 is largely self-contained and as a result reflects the same high quality as the rest of the series. So far, SCARLET WITCH can’t miss.