The Scarlet Witch’s return to the shelves was met with high praise. Steve Orlando and Sara Pichelli’s first issue is a wonderful reintroduction to one of Marvel’s most popular characters. In the previous issue, Wanda opens a shop with the assistance of Marvel Comics debutant Darcy Lewis. This sets the monthly theme and overall plot of the story. The Scarlet Witch saves a small town at the end and is then greeted by a familiar face, Viv Vision, which leads into Scarlet Witch #2.
Viv’s future rests in Wanda’s vision
Viv Vision, a Champion and daughter of Vision, is the latest character to walk through Wanda’s “Last Door.” Still going through the grief and trauma of losing her mother and brother during the 2015-16 run of Vision, Viv has ongoing nightmares.
Since Viv is a synthezoid, these nightmares are acting as a virus code in her system. If they do not stop, she will die. The nightmares remind her of the most traumatic moments in her life, and she feels like it is defining her—something Wanda is familiar with. A set plan arrives as Wanda decides to enter Viv’s dreamscape.
In what is a beautiful world full of reds and greens, Wanda (quite literally) rips the rug out from Viv's dreamscape. Underneath, she finds the skeletal remains of The Vision's old residence. Matthew Wilson displays stunning color on this page. As the city quickly shifts from bright and vivid to dull, depressing, hues of gray and blue, Wanda opens the front door and is met with the remains of Virginia Vision, the late wife of Vision, and Viv’s mother. The atmosphere is nightmarish, because Wanda discovers Viv has a Nightmare leeching off of her dreams.
Scarlet Witch enters a Nightmare’s domain
On first thought, one would think Nightmare is behind all of this. It is right up his alley, after all. It is actually his daughter—Dreamqueen. In a fun twist, and deep cut, Dreamqueen is now sporting a new, sensual look. A succubus, leeching of human misery—Dreamqueen reveals herself to be the one behind Viv’s latest misery. A showdown between the Devourer of Human Misery and the Scarlet Witch is underway.
During this sequence, the art from Pichelli is out of this world. Dreamqueen possesses the carcass of Vision and goes head-to-head with Wanda. Dreamqueen has no morals or better nature. She kills her own mother at birth with no regrets, revealing the threat that she is. The magical fight is visually insane. The way Wanda counters every move elegantly is remarkable. Dreamqueen sends a colony of demon bats? No problem, the Scarlet Witch morphs them into her own whip.
Once Dreamqueen thinks she has Wanda on her knees, as the Scarlet Witch is drenched in the tears of Vision (crazy, right?), Steve Orlando drops the best line of this issue.
“Forget my past. My present will make you humble.”Scarlet Witch (written by Steve Orlando)
Wanda puts Dreamqueen in a magical sphere, containing her to make a deal. In this deal, the Scarlet Witch forms a sarmale, a Romanian cabbage roll. The sarmale contains the worst nightmare Wanda has experienced—the loss of her children. In return for the sarmale, the Dreamqueen must never return to the human world, or else face the wrath of the Scarlet Witch. A fair trade if you ask me, and Dreamqueen agrees.
Alas, Wanda has a trick up her sleeve. While the roll does contain the agony of her greatest tragedy, there is also a transformation spell inside. This makes it so Dreamqueen must now consume bliss, not misery, to survive. But she would hate the taste of it, just the way she always has.
Tease and thank you
In the end, Viv’s nightmares are gone. She thanks Wanda for her assistance through it all, and even admits that the Scarlet Witch is not what she expects. Wanda tells her that healing has no shortcuts. Dreamqueen is sent away, and Viv has a fair shot at closure.
Towards the tail end of the last issue, Wanda is given a mysterious rock necklace. This jewelry seems to counter her chaos magic, and she attempts to learn more about why and how. Darcy further reveals to the reader that she entered through the shop’s Last Door a few weeks back, yet still refuses to talk about why.
On the final page we jump to the infamous Bar with No Name where someone named Scythia is looking for Darcy. She seems big, mean, and is holding an iron chain in high heels. That’s never good, right?
Scarlet Witch #2: Something special is brewing
The first issue provides me with hope that there is a clear story plan per issue and overarching plot for the series. Wanda assists the latest person in need who enters the Last Door as the monthly “case of the week,” with Darcy’s story and the mysterious stone aiding the overarching plot.
Orlando’s writing is great, there are several times in this issue alone where I thought, “Wow, that is totally an all-time Wanda quote.” The conversations feel natural and the added background elements, like Viv’s history, are a wonderful touch. Including a Romani delicacy, like the sarmales, is also a clever note that doesn't feel forced.
Pichelli’s art continues to be a standout. Every single character in this issue looks phenomenal. The art in the fight scenes is incredibly clean and flows well. Wanda’s casual attire consistently makes me gasp, as it is just beautiful. Matthew Wilson’s colors completely compliment Pichelli’s inks. The reds pop, and Wanda's skin tone consistently reflects her Romani heritage.
Letterers often go unnoticed, unfortunately, but I want to shout out the letterer, Cory Petit. The classic, synthezoid yellow when Viv speaks provides great distinction on the page. The extra mile on the blue and purple text bubbles for Dreamqueen makes everything stand out and differentiate that much more.
A five-star performance
There is a lovely backup written by Stephanie Phillips with art from Chris Allen. It features Storm entering Wanda's shop to let her know about Magneto's death from A.X.E. Judgement Day. The two then go off on a witch's quest in search of some flowers, where Wanda reminds Ororo of her mystical background.
Marvel truly has something special on their hands with Orlando and Pichelli at the helm. Wanda Maximoff has deserved an ongoing for quite some time, and now she finally has a quality series on the shelf. Scarlet Witch has quickly become a monthly favorite of mine, and I cannot wait for the next one.