They say the only three certain things in life are birth, death, and change. When it comes to comic books those things are also certain as they come in the form of retcons, reboots, and resurrections.
For our purposes retcons are elements that are retroactively added into a character’s history after the fact, reboots are either big full change revivals of a character/title or are extensive changes to their canon, and resurrections are characters making the return from death or character limbo.
Each week we’ll explore the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to Retcons, Reboots, and Resurrections.
Comic book universes like Marvel and DC have been running for decades now, leaving DC’s penchant for full reboots aside. The longer a shared universe runs with new creative voices and corporate/editorial voices rotating in the more chances there are that things get retconned. Sometimes, the same thing can be retconned numerous times back and forth like some demented ride.
Enter Magneto, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver the family that wasn’t a family until they were a family before they were no longer a family again.
What Was It?
Introduced all the way back in X-Men #4, the Brotherhood of Mutants was run by Charles Xavier’s frenemy Magneto and counted among its members two young twin mutants known as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Wanda and Pietro Maximoff were quickly established as the children of Django and Marya Maximoff. When the twins were on the run following an attack on their parents (who they believed perished), they are attacked by an angry mob once Wanda uses her power to save a child. The swift entrance of Magneto saves her, and feeling in debt to the man she agrees to be part of his Brotherhood and Pietro goes along to protect his sister.
Following a few scrapes with the X-Men, the twins left Magneto’s Brotherhood behind. While the master of magnetism continued his war against humanity, the twins instead decided to go the other way and ended up joining the Avengers just as the original Avengers took some time off. They were part of “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” which was when the team consisted of just the twins, Captain America and Hawkeye. At this point being Avengers is the most known aspect of the two characters, who have spent far more time on that side of the publishing line than the X-Men side.
All of their previous origins were thrown up in the air though once Giant-Size Avengers #1 arrived in 1974. As part of the story, the two were seemingly retconned to actually be the children of the golden age heroes Whizzer and Miss America, old colleagues of Captain America. Around the same time, it was established that the geneticist known as the High Evolutionary gave the twins to the Maximoffs who had adopted them and raised them as their own. This didn’t go much of anywhere other than Wanda going by Wanda Frank, taking on the surname of Bob (Whizzer) and Madeline Joyce Frank (Miss America) for a time.
Marvel creators were not satisfied by this change though.
Avengers #185 & 186 in 1979 has the twins begin to question their Whizzer/Miss America parentage as they return to East Transia. There Pietro meets Bova, one of the High Evolutionary’s first “new men”, who helped bring the twins into the world. She regales him with the tale of Magda who fled from a powerful husband, gave birth there in Mt. Wundagore, and ran off into a storm to die when the twins were born because she feared what would happen should her husband learn of them.
At this point, the Whizzer/Miss America origin is tied in as Bova and the High Evolutionary tried to pass the twins off as their kids when the actual child Miss America gave birth to was stillborn and she died in the process. The grief though sent Whizzer to flee (leading to his mistaken belief they were his children), so the twins were given to Django and Marya to raise, leading full circle to the original origins of the twins.
Concurrently X-Men #125 featured a moment where Magneto stumbles across a file about his former wife Magda. He flashes back to the moment their child, Anya, was killed at the hands of villagers who saw magneto use his abilities. Magda fled when she saw him use his powers to avenge their daughter. Between these issues, the seeds were planted but it would take a few more years before this particular plant would bloom.
Bloom it did though, as 1983’s Vision and the Scarlet Witch #4 had Magneto finally reveal to the twins that he was their father, as he shows up to meet his granddaughter Luna (child of Pietro and the Inhuman Crystal) for the first time. Magneto as the father of the twins was the status quo from that point forward and became the way that most fans thought of them not only in comics but in the various cartoons and video games and other adaptations that came out over all those years.
Then Marvel’s ‘Axis’ event happened.
Long story short on that one, Red Skull had Xavier’s brain in his head and Magneto tried to kill him and he became Red Onslaught and a backfiring magical spell ended up inverting several heroes into bad guys and several bad guys into more heroic figures. Wanda was warped by this effect and tried to go after Doctor Doom (because of what he did to cause her madness in Avengers Disassembled/House of M) and tries to kill Magneto and Quicksilver with a spell that only affects her bloodline. The spell only hurts Quicksilver, and she rapidly jumps to the conclusion that this means Magneto wasn’t her father and they had all been manipulated.
The second volume of the Uncanny Avengers series followed this moment and retconned the retconned retcon to take everything back to where it began. Here the High Evolutionary revealed that not only were Django and Marya actually the biological parents of the twins like the original origin, but they aren’t mutants. Nope, they are instead powered because he experimented on them and gave them powers.
Some recent events in the X-Men line seem to point to a possible reconciliation of this relationship, in the just about to launch Trial of Magneto miniseries.
Was It Good?
Really depends on the retcon one is talking about. The original few retcons that led to the reveal of Magneto as their father were overall good. It was clear that the creators there were building upon what each other did to circle around to a well-crafted place. Also, the family relationship of the three was a powerful dynamic that ran for decades. A dynamic that many fans really liked, especially then once Polaris/Lorna Dane was finally actually revealed as Magneto’s other child and joined the family.
The last retcon though was lazy, and while Marvel will never admit it, was clearly tied to the fact that the MCU wanted to use the twins but didn’t have the rights to X-Men stuff so wanted to divorce them from Magneto connections. This was not the only time that the animosity between Marvel and Fox over the latter having all the film rights affected things in the comics.
Fingers are truly crossed that things are about to make a change for the better this summer with the Magneto miniseries.
Next Week: Prepare yourselves for the biggest reboot button push of all