Scarlet Witch #2 Review
The great idea at the heart of SCARLET WITCH is the Last Door through which anyone with nowhere left to turn may walk. They find Wanda on the other side and she tries to help. In SCARLET WITCH #2 the person with nowhere else to turn is Viv Vision, the daughter of Wanda’s synthezoid ex-husband. And like so many people do, she is struggling to process her grief over loved ones she’s lost.
Viv’s mother and brother are dead. Ever since then she’s been trying to work through what that means. Her father approached the problem from an analytical point of view which didn’t help Viv. Afterward her friends on the Champions helped her learn to live with it. But recently she’s been backsliding on that progress, having dreams that have become nightmares. Viv believes that if the nightmares don’t end they will destroy her, and that’s what brings her through the Last Door to Wanda in SCARLET WITCH #2. Wanda enters Viv’s dreamscape and finds Dreamqueen, the devourer of human misery.
Orlando tackles two complementary themes in SCARLET WITCH #2. The upfront and obvious one is the grieving process and the difficulty Viv is having moving through it. And though the story couches it in the terms of Viv’s nature as a synthezoid and Dreamqueen as the source of her unending nightmares, there is nothing special about what Viv is going through. When she says she wants to be rid of the emotions she’s facing–who among us doesn’t wish the same when we experience such loss?
Grief is only the surface level of what SCARLET WITCH #2 is doing, though. Once Wanda faces Dreamqueen the issue moves into a consideration of past actions. Dreamqueen tries to throw Wanda’s dark past in her face only to have Wanda turn it around and “corrupt” Dreamqueen with joy. Orlando’s choice in these first two issues has been to set Wanda on a new path that leaves her past actions behind. Making Wanda’s confrontation with Dream Queen unfold in this way feels like the story itself saying that Wanda is not Avengers Disassembled, she’s not “no more mutants”, and she’s not the pretender. She’s a fully realized person who wants to live a life like anyone else and refuses to be defined by mistakes.
The issue also has a backup story that sees Storm visiting Wanda’s shop to tell her about Magneto’s death which is followed by the two going on a brief adventure to acquire ingredients for a special tea. The story seems to want to connect Magneto, Storm, and Wanda in spirit, but it never quite gets there. Wanda brings Storm into the magical realm. Storm and Magneto have become connected to each other in X-Men titles via their leadership posts in X-MEN RED. And Wanda connects herself to Magneto in dialogue. But it all feels a little forced, perhaps because there isn’t enough space to fully explore these ideas.
Pichelli really grabs the attention in her depiction of the dreamscape. On first blush the environment isn’t terribly unusual. The first look at it is a recognizable cityscape that almost passes as normal until you catch the details. This first look is merely the basic surface level, though. Wanda sees through it quickly and the dreamscape becomes more abstract afterward. Dreamqueen is a provocative character who at first appears almost as a demonic dominatrix but later as she torments Wanda looks like a damaged female Vision. The imagery never reaches a disturbing level but it definitely lives in the world of the bizarre.
Also of note is Pichelli’s ability to depict character mood and emotion through expression and body language. This is on display especially with Viv. She repeatedly looks withdrawn and downcast. She is vulnerable but also periodically defensive. But there is also the briefest flicker of hope and near gratitude for one panel when Wanda agrees to help her.
Wilson’s coloring of the dreamscape is also exceptional. For almost all of it Wanda’s red costume stands in stark contrast against blue, yellow, and dark purple. She is almost a beacon in what is clearly a sinister environment. Petit’s lettering is also strong in the dreamscape with the dialogue bubbles colored to match Dreamscape’s skin.
SCARLET WITCH #2 continues to re-establish Wanda as a fully realized character in her own right, jettisoning much of her difficult history. The way Wanda defeats Dreamscape is representative of that. The issue also shows off how individual stories with random people coming through the Last Door can further inform Wanda. Orlando can use these one-off plots to reveal nuances about Wanda’s character via how she responds to those she’s helping. This is another very successful issue in a fledgling and compelling new series.9.1/10
* This article was originally published here