By Molly Jane Kremer. Ever since reading this year’s phenomenal (if at times problematic) Airboy—James Robinson’s autobiographically-leaning Image miniseries with artist Greg Hinkle—I’ve found myself reading Robinson’s current works with a slightly different eye. Though many of his current comics I didn’t exactly enjoy, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked his new Scarlet Witch #1. He draws from, and is reverent to, the character’s fifty year history while making her seem fresh and new, and along with artist Vanesa Del Rey and colorist Jordie Bellaire, has made Wanda’s first-ever solo series launch in good form.

As in many of these new Marvel first issues, Wanda Maximoff may be sporting a new costume and a new direction, but her comic is still very much within, and indebted to, previous continuity (which, let’s face it, is a good thing: absolutely no one wanted another New 52). Photos of her and her brother in their early days with the Avengers decorate her Manhattan apartment, and her old mentor (or the ghost of her ghost, anyway) Agatha Harkness is back, with a co-starring role as the witty best friend and confidante.

The comic does, however, have a very similar feel to Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s recent Doctor Strange, which was going to be unavoidable with two characters both uncovering a magical big-bad in New York, but Scarlet Witch has a more likable protagonist with a more likable motivation of redemption. Scarlet Witch also felt self-contained while maintaining an overarching plot, and it was satisfying to have a little done-in-one sense of closure, especially in a recent Marvel first issue. With the series’ plans on switching to a new artist with each issue, the single-issue nature will suit it very well.


The art is occasionally beautiful: Vanesa Del Rey is a fantastic artist, but her art and Jordie Bellaire’s colors don’t seem to mesh well, at times. Scenes that take place at night or in shadow look gorgeous, with Del Rey’s light, suggestive style coming through, but for the few pages in broad daylight, Wanda’s colors are almost flat, and Del Rey’s typically brushy, ethereal inks look heavy and muddied. However most of the book – like the scenes in Wanda’s apartment and later when she’s investigating the Sonneillon – utilize shadows and chiaroscuro perfectly, giving the pages an effortlessly moody and spooky ambiance.

Robinson interestingly takes her previously established “chaos magic” abilities in a slightly different direction, stating that it is, in fact, pagan magic, “linked to the energy of the earth and womankind” and “feared by men”; which could be a little on-the-nose for a man writing a comic about an oft-misunderstood female witch. Instead, it makes for an interesting parallel in the way Wanda as a character has always been treated: the immense nature of her powers beside her mental instability has, especially in recent years, made her one of the most dangerous people in the Marvel Universe, in a very stereotypically feminine “I can’t control my emotions! Watch me decimate populations!” kind of way.

Scarlet Witch feels like a fully developed character here instead of a pretty plot device: instead of making cliché powers seem vague but enormous, they’re now much more defined and understandable—with some historical references to instances of “witchcraft”, no less—paired with an overwhelming desire to make good on the mistakes she’s made (which also, taken slightly autobiographically, has some deeper resonance within Robinson’s work, as well). Aside from being a fitting companion book to the more high-profile Doctor Strange (because a character getting his own movie is gonna get dat marketing boost, of course), Scarlet Witch is a compelling read all on its own, permitting Wanda (and perhaps her Mr. Robinson) a little well-earned absolution.

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by James Robinson.

Art by Vanesa Del Rey.

Colors by Jordie Bellaire.

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit.

8.5 out of 10