Monday, April 10, 2006

Profile: Scarlet Witch

Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch
First appearance: X-Men #4, 1964

Current status: self-depowered

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: the children she bore at the time she was married to the Vision turned out to be figments of her imagination, conceived via her magical skills, and dissolved, then, she went crazy in West Coast Avengers and turned to the bad side again, cutting her hair short and rejoining her biological father, Magneto, along with her twin brother Quicksilver, before coming back to her senses again. Then, in Avengers: Disassembled in 2004, she – or, more precisely, her bad clone, it turned out, was acting in revenge for “hiding the truth” from her by not telling her what her children really were, and tried killing off some of the Avengers and making others like She-Hulk go insane. And the only person who could subdue the doppelganger, it turned out, was Doctor Strange, who then told everyone the “truth” about what caused Wanda’s double to go off the edge. It was in the House of M crossover that this was revealed to have been a clone, and that the real one was apparently being controlled by Quicksilver (I wonder what Crystal of Attilan thinks about that?), and upon emerging from under his influence, the real Wanda then exacted a payback lesson against both Pietro and her father Magneto by depowering many mutants on the planet, including herself.

What’s wrong with how this was done? In the aftermath of discovering that her two children were just products of her own mind and magic, John Byrne, who was responsible for the “development” that took place at the time, turned her into a really laughable stereotype. Her devolving into a vixenish villainess teetered on the brink of Cartoonland, right down to the character design (while it took place off-panel in WCA #56, her scratching of Wonder Man across his chest was sickening). Worst, she was depicted as a lunatic just for the sake of making Magneto look good and the wiser – he was shown acting honorably, whereas Wanda by contrast was perfectly one-dimensional in the evil personality Byrne wrote her in, meaning that Magneto was in the position of arguing – very weakly at that – that she was screwing up.

It got worse. In 2004, in the aforementioned crossover, this very same storyline Byrne wrote up in 1990 was dredged up again, regardless of the fact that it made very little sense to begin with, and Wanda was again disgraced as a character, in a script by Brian Bendis that was virtually unchallenging, because, rather than to set up something involving a really challenging plot, we instead get a cliched plot rife with derivative stereotypes. That Wanda did turn out – unsurprisingly – to be just a pawn in a plot by her brother, doesn’t counteract the bad taste the crossover House of M leaves behind.

As far as I know, Quicksilver himself, in the aftermath of House of M, seems to have restored the mutant powers of a lot of those who’d lost them, perhaps including his sister's. But even that doesn’t redeem the fact that it was simply a bad idea to begin with.


At 6:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Scarlet Witch is definitely one of the most most abused female characters in comics. Reduced to the status of a one-dimensional vaudevillainess and the pawn of the powerful men in her life, it would be nice to see Wanda rewritten with a little back bone.


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