The witchiest Avenger returns with a new ongoing series Scarlet Witch #1, and she’s taking on an unprecedented new role: bookseller therapist?
Thanks in part to her starring turns in MCU titles WandaVision and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Wanda Maximoff —AKA the Scarlet Witch— has a bigger pop cultural presence than ever before, meaning a new ongoing series in her name was inevitable. (Her last series concluded back in 2017, which may as well be a whole lifetime away in comics-time.) Following the events of 2021’s X-Men: The Trial of Magneto, Wanda has finally shaken her outcast status from Krakoa and gained a new lease in life (literally and figuratively) as the new owner of a magic shop in New York City. But behind all the knick-knacks and mystic texts, this store is really a front for her new mission: The Last Door, a portal that finds downtrodden people at their lowest and brings them to Wanda for help.
“X Character as Doctor Who” is something of an overdone premise at this point, but I’m into it as a new hook for Wanda moving forward in this series. As with anything, it comes down to the execution, and I’d say writer Steve Orlando has plenty of affection for the character that comes through in the way he depicts her as a caring, empathetic figure rather than the tragic and unstable woman she’s often portrayed as. (On the subject of Orlando writing this series; it would’ve been nice to finally have a Wanda series written by someone who identifies as a woman and/or Romani, yes, but that’s a different discussion I’m not really equipped for.)
To Orlando’s credit, Scarlet Witch #1 feels like a proper number one, telling a complete, standalone story that wraps up by the end while also sowing seeds for future issues. Number ones are difficult! You have to introduce the audience to the status quo of the series and set their expectations while also making it a satisfying read that doesn’t leave them feeling like it’s an incomplete story-in-progress. I think this issue passes that metric excellently. A keen reader may even notice its resemblance to the plot of WandaVision, which has to be intentional given that Darcy Lewis (an MCU favorite and WV costar) finally makes her Earth-616 debut here as Wanda’s employee and assistant. #SorcererSupremeDarcy?
Scarlet Witch #1 also boasts the superstar art team of Sara Pichelli and Matthew Wilson, which really makes for some stellar visuals. The Emporium shop feels lived in and cozy, while the various acts of magic come across as appropriately otherworldly. When dealing with magical subject matter, the limit truly doesn’t exist, and I hope they get even weirder and weirder with it as the series progresses. (Another point of appreciation: Wanda and her brother Pietro are both depicted with deeper skin tones befitting their traveler heritage, which is often overlooked by color artists in their various other appearances. Details!)