She Could Do This All Day! Reviewing ‘Scarlet Witch’ #5

The Scarlet Witch and the former queen of the Amazons have unfinished business regarding the fate of one Darcy Lewis.

Scarlet Witch #5 brings the first story arc of this magical series to a close, putting some major punctuation on the mission statement of the series that has seen Wanda Maximoff rocket back to the upper echelons of herodom where she absolutely belongs. For far too long this long-time Avenger has been a character defined by the tragedies in her life, both the natural ones and the ones forced onto her by outside forces (both in and out of the universe), forced to wear a metaphorical scarlet letter that has made her nothing but a pariah in the spaces where she once was welcome and surrounded by allies/friends. Not anymore.

After the drag-out fight with Scythia last issue in order to protect/save her friend Darcy, Wanda is trying to piece things back together in her town as well as dealing with injuries. Unfortunately, Scythia found a whole bunch of the magic-proof stone Wanda has been investigating (that was also used to harm her previously), forming it into an armor that protects her from the magic of the Scarlet Witch. What we get here is a full brutal knock-em-down bare-knuckle fight that showcases just how far both women are willing to go for their beliefs and causes but also a deep moment where it’s not fists that save the day but words and the acceptance of letting go of things from the past that are painful/past their time.

Steve Orlando has done a truly amazing job at picking up where Leah Williams handed off the baton with X-Men: The Trial Of Magneto (where the character was fully redeemed/forgiven/reborn), giving us the version of Wanda that so many fans have wanted to see back in the pages of Marvel Comics for far too long. We watched as her mental health issues were weaponized in numerous early 2000s era stories that saw her fall down the villain path. While other heroes that went down that path (willingly) and caused far more devastation were forgiven and returned to the hero realm, Wanda was still defined by those moments and things she did (despite us learning over a decade ago that Doom had a part in causing it all). All that past is not gone, it was not wiped away, but Orlando is not allowing it to be something that weighs the character down or strips away everything else that she is as a hero, a friend, and just a human being. We do not have to be defined/controlled by our trauma, decisions, or the way that life takes us.

This is a character who is not only one of the most powerful figures in the Marvel Universe just from her actual powers, but there is so much more behind her than her powers. There is a tenacity and determination, a fiery spirit, loyalty, and true compassion that radiates from her as she has embarked on this mission to help/save those that have nowhere else to turn. We get a moment in the issue where she must resort to physical fighting, referencing how she’s trained with some amazing fighters in all her Avengers years, putting on her best “I can do this all day” Captain America-esque face and fighting stance. It made me want to jump up and pump my fist in the air and cheer on this character because this is who Wanda Maximoff is and should be always.

Overall, this first arc has been truly something special as Orlando has managed to elevate and fully ‘fix’ (more like unleash what was always there) this character in a way that makes her a true force both physically but also inspirationally. All of it was done in a way where all the crap piled on her didn’t have to be referenced constantly, and in a way that is powerful for long-time fans but is completely 100% new reader friendly because any continuity/canon is explained and used to enhance the story rather than be a potentially gatekeeping anchor.

Everything about this series has been gorgeous since day one because of just how truly amazing Sara Pichelli is as an artist. If we’re going to have an issue where Pichelli isn’t doing the artwork, having the series cover artist and also truly amazing artist Russell Dauterman step in sure is a treat. As much as I love getting to see gorgeous Dauterman-drawn comic book covers, I’ve definitely missed seeing him on the interiors of a book on a regular basis.

Everything about Dauterman’s artwork, whether it’s a cover or the sequential interior work, is just instantly dynamic. It feels so very deep with so much life to it that one could swear that it might just fly off the page and become reality around us. What makes it fit here perfectly is that while it is clearly different from Pichelli’s work it is also not all that different. Both have their styles and their little unique flourishes but the same dynamicness, the gorgeous depth/details, the unique choices in panel layout, and so much more are on the same wavelength. Artist changes where the artwork has a connection, whether visually or spiritually, are a very solid choice in this era where those changes happen far more often.

There potentially might be some other artist that actually was the first, but I’m pretty certain that it was Dauterman’s work on the various Thor titles that really was the first time I really considered how unique and wild one can get with panel layouts. Despite reading comics most of my life, there were sadly periods of time where I didn’t pay the right amount of attention to the overall artwork, colors, lettering, and everything else that makes a comic book a comic book. Panels that take on every conceivable type of shape from circles to various polygons, borders being broken to allow the action to flow across the page rather than be contained, vertical panels rather than just horizontal, great uses of white space/negative space, and so much more. Standard types of panels are classic and fantastic, but there is just something exciting about how many artists are just really going all out on how unique pages can look in a comic.

Also, that Captain America-esque moment I mentioned above, the way that Dauterman brings it to life…I need that page framed. One instantly feels the power, determination, and badassery of Wanda as they gaze upon it. That’s not a woman to be trifled with.

One of the elements that help make the work of Pichelli and Dauterman stand apart from one another is the differences in how Matthew Wilson approaches the coloring. In the previous issues, there was a sort of shadowy gritty toned-down feel to a lot of the colors, allowing for there to be some pops of color all over the place as well as contrasting colors for them to stand beside. It was somewhat heavy and had a bit of a roughness that matched the artwork on the page as well as the tone. Great colorists are able to maintain a lot of their own style no matter what artwork they are working on while also being able to shift their work to match the tone of that artwork.

In the case of this issue, Wilson’s colors still have some of that shadowy grittiness to them, as the tone of the story is still a bit rough with the whole brutal fight and such, but there is also a lot more smoothness to some of them. A lot more flashes of the really vibrant colors are found when Wanda and Scythia are going all out, but still, plenty of background toned-down contrasting colors are all over the place to make sure the pops stand out even more.

Dynamic artwork in a comic book can fully tell a story all on its own, giving us the visual cues needed to tell where something is going and how characters are feeling in the moment. Taking that up a notch so that we are for sure getting the story that we’re meant to take away from the issue comes down to the work that a letterer does. The best of them can really make the various bits of lettering, from dialogue to captions to SFX, pop in a way that is so powerful and dynamic as they are infused with the personality and energy of the characters with volume/tone discernable as we hear their “voices” in our heads. Cory Petit is one of the best out there always bringing the proverbial A-game by making sure that every single letter/word on the page has the same energy as everything else in the issue.

Dropping in the little changes to the font (from size to style to colors and more) so that we not only can tell who said something but how they said it and even if there are any little unique things about their voice. In real life, we can hear if someone has an accent or a different way they speak compared to others and letterers like Petit do all they can to allow us to take that into account as we recreate character voices within our head during our reading.

Scarlet Witch #5 is now available from Marvel Comics.

The Scarlet Witch and the former queen of the Amazons have unfinished business regarding the fate of one Darcy Lewis.COMICONRead More

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