The Scarlet Witch, aka Wanda Maximoff, has not been able to catch a break for decades. Whether in comics, TV, or movies, there’s seemingly no medium where she doesn’t suffer horribly, driven to madness by her incredible power and haunted by the sins of her past.
The new Scarlet Witch ongoing seeks to change that. Written by Steve Orlando with art by Sara Pichelli and colorist Matt Wilson, this series features a Wanda who is finally at peace with herself, and she’s getting back into the superhero life. With a new costume design by Russell Dauterman, who also draws the book’s main covers, the Scarlet Witch is flying into action with a fresh outlook on life and a renewed commitment to help people in need.
Read on for a preview of not only what Orlando and Pichelli have in store for the comic, but also all the references to Wanda’s comic book history that Dauterman managed to pack into her new costume.
Orlando’s first Marvel work was the Wanda-centric Darkhold miniseries, which ended with Wanda freeing herself of the evil influence of Chthon, the Elder God who granted her power as a child. That story ended around the same time as Wanda’s reckoning for her crimes against mutantkind in The Trial of Magneto, offering a clean slate for the Scarlet Witch’s future.
“Two of the major crosses that she’d been bearing for a long time had finally been lifted, so it really felt like a new moment,” said Orlando. “We talked about setting her up in a new place where she could put her power to service for all the people that she’s realized she could have helped if she had actually taken the time and and done the work to reckon with herself sooner.”
With Wanda coming to terms with her past, Dauterman wanted to give her a new costume that nodded to the variety of looks she has had over the years. “I wanted to mix the best bits of past Scarlet Witch looks with new elements to make something fresh, magical, and superheroic,” said Dauterman. “I wanted a costume Wanda could wear going forward that hopefully represents this new turn in her life, while recalling her iconic looks and still feeling like Wanda.”
“There are elements in there from her classic design, the MCU, the Kevin Wada design, and her Force Works costumes,” said Dauterman, who has diligently considered every costume detail. “The rings were inspired by the jewelry she wore in her George Pérez look. The moon motif is inspired by her ’90s-era costume, some of her recent storylines, and a line from the Vision and the Scarlet Witch miniseries. A pregnant Wanda says if she’s having a girl, she wants to name the baby Diana — after the goddess of witchcraft and the moon.”
The biggest change is replacing Wanda’s cape with her starry hair, which leaves a long trail behind her when she uses her powers. “The hair offers an opportunity for us to play with composition,” said Dauterman. “Something that can convey movement and lead the eye around the page, which is always helpful with static images.”
With Wanda stepping into a more superheroic role in the Marvel Universe, Dauterman was very cognizant of creating a costume that could be drawn successfully by other artists with their own styles. “The design needs to work for Sara and Matt on interiors and also for anyone else who might draw Wanda going forward. So I tried to balance having enough interesting detail with keeping the silhouette simple and the specifics straightforward.”
The Scarlet Witch’s crown proved to be an especially valuable design element, influencing Dauterman to find new ways to emphasize Wanda’s supernatural side. “I love that there’s nothing stereotypically witchy about the crown, but it still gives a witch vibe. I tried to move that mystical feeling forward with the starry effect on Wanda’s skirt and hair — nodding to her son Wiccan’s Jamie McKelvie-designed costume and her sister Polaris’ look in the ‘Dark Seduction’ era — a visual signifier that this is a magical character.”
Bringing in design elements from Wanda’s relatives taps into a central theme of the book: Wanda’s relationship with her family, both biological and chosen.
“She has one blood brother [Quicksilver], who’s a science experiment like her,” said Orlando. “She has an adopted sister [Polaris] who is a mutant. Her ex-husband [Vision] is a robot with a late wife that was made from Wanda’s brain patterns, and her ex’s late son and living daughter are kind of hers and kind of not. In a traditional sense, they’re not, but they were made from someone who is based on Wanda. There’s a strangeness to Wanda’s day-to-day life that is something we’re really excited to explore with those she surrounds herself with and celebrate.”
The series adds a new member to Wanda’s inner circle, and she’s a MCU fan-favorite making her comic book debut: Darcy Lewis, played by Kat Dennings in the Thor film franchise and WandaVision. “This is the 616 version of this character, who brings the same type of perceptions to the book, but also fits right into what’s going on with Scarlet Witch, with the magic side of the Marvel Universe,” said Orlando.
“Darcy’s there to lightly chide the absurdities we love of comic books, especially in a character like Thor,” said Orlando. “Wanda speaks casually about a life that is absurd and strange, and it’s normal for her. But if you look at her family tree and the things she does, it can seem quite esoteric. Darcy essentially gives a voice to the audience in the same way that Kat Dennings’ character does.”
Darcy will be hanging around Wanda’s new place of business, a magic shop that helps her play a more active part in her community. “One of the things we wanted to do was show that, despite her immense power, she isn’t always off battling threats and menaces that are relatively hard to relate to,” said Orlando. “It’s really back to what makes Marvel characters iconic. They are the people that exist in the world outside your window. No matter what their power level was, they were also someone you could see in their civilian guise at the coffee shop, or maybe they can’t make rent, things like that. Even someone like Captain America — for a long time he was living in a shit apartment in New York.”
Planting roots doesn’t mean Wanda won’t be exploring the wider Marvel Universe. She’ll be visiting Pichelli’s home country of Italy, and this exclusive first look at Scarlet Witch #2 reveals that Wanda is heading into the Dreamscape with her sort-of-but-not-really daughter, Viv Vision. Wanda’s near-infinite power means that she can go pretty much anywhere, including an upcoming journey to Sub-Atomica in issue #3 that will be drawn entirely in splash pages in an ode to the classic fantasy comic Prince Valiant.
Orlando hasn’t forgotten all of those years of Wanda’s suffering, but they aren’t holding her back anymore. They’ve made her more assured than ever. “She has not had a perfect life,” said Orlando. “She has had to overcome and struggle. That’s where real strength comes from. That’s where real power comes from. Who among us hasn’t had to reckon with our own mistakes, our own inner darkness? Whether it’s large-scale — probably small-scale because we’re everyday people — it’s still there.”