We’re Going On A Quest! Reviewing ‘Scarlet Witch’ #3
by Scott Redmond
Wanda Maximoff’s journey to help those who are in need of helping gets a lot smaller and bigger at the same time as ‘Scarlet Witch’ #3 takes the awsome series to new heights. This is the series that the character has needed and deserved for years, and it should live a long fruitful life with this amazing creative team who is doing wonderous things with the vast potential of a comic book.
One of the many beauties of comic books is their versatility in how they can present and tell any type of story. Much like other visual mediums, they have the range to fit any genre or scale of story, but unlike many of those others, they come without limits to what is depicted in those moments as they are not constrained by budgets, physics, and just all around reality itself that other mediums have to account for.
When we get a particular comic that takes that ability and runs wild with it, giving us something beyond a normal set of panels and story momentum, it sure is something. Something awesome. Scarlet Witch #3 sure is something, pretty awesome.
Generally in reviews, one breaks down the various elements that go into a comic from writing to the general artwork to the colors, right into the lettering that brings it all together. With an issue like this, it feels a bit harder to really do separate paragraphs and spaces about the work when it’s all so intrinsically linked and singing harmoniously. That’s not to say that comic books are generally a very connected thing because they most certainly are and that is the only way that they can work. But there is something about this presentation where each element can stand alone in a sense, but without each other, they would not hit in such a powerful way.
Basically, it really feels like Steve Orlando, Sara Pichelli, Elisabetta D’Amico, Matthew Wilson, and Cory Petit created a comic book that is akin to a fantasy fairy tale storybook. That’s the best way I can think to create a comparison to what is on the page. We have bookends that take place on Earth that fall into the more standard appearance we associate with superheroes and just comic books in general, with the panels and speech bubbles and colorfully drawn characters. The vast majority of this story is told through full-page panel illustrations (thus the reference to a storybook) where the saga of Wanda and Polaris trying to help free people of Tryfa, from the invading Nillans, alongside one of their members Mardj becomes an epic tale.
Pichelli’s artistic style is gorgeous and powerful and so emotional, creating distinctive visuals on every single page and in every single panel, seemingly leaping even higher with this issue compared to how already incredible these issues have been so far. With the inking from D’Amico, there is even more of a sense of weight and depth to any given panel, giving us a sense of realness with any of the images. All of them are crafted in a way that gives the audience a feeling of being there with the characters, just off to the side observing their quest on their level rather than from a distance or somewhere outside of their space.
Each of the aforementioned full-page panels is delivered in a way that were they separated from the words and the overall given story, we would still be able to tell what is happening and craft a story pretty similar to what we’re given. When the artwork reaches a level where it could very much be one of those silent issues that comics put out there every now and then, that’s something pretty powerful.
Wilson continues to bring a varied and beautiful color palette to the series, that mixes flashes of vibrant fantastical colors with more grounded and even shaded tones. Bright greens, reds, blues, and other colors are used to light the space, especially when powers or other supernatural elements are in play, while darker shadows of varying degrees are used to create a starker background for those elements to pop even more. Even with that no two pages have the same sort of mixture or tone to it, shifting around to help create something so unique and fun with the turn of every page. A magical superhero book as a concept already comes with expectations for what it should probably look like, the places it can and should go, and really what we get here far exceeds any expectations that might be cooked up before opening the pages.
All of the artwork speaks for itself, depicting the characters in battles and moments, communicating so much. Yet, the words that dot the page give us even more as they are written in a verse or poetic sort of styling. Right away it gives the feeling of an epic tale being sung or performed by a bard of some kind, roping us in to tell this epic tale alongside the protagonists. It’s placed and delivered wonderfully by Petit making sure that we can follow along, guided across the page as the imagery ‘moves’ and done in a way that manages to convey so much emotion and personality just by existing. I just love how it’s taken out of standard bubbles or caption boxes and woven more seamlessly into the pages, sometimes in colorful boxes of sorts and other times just floating somewhere within the images.
Orlando just has the voices of these characters down so well already, and the sisterly bond is powerful. It’s so nice to finally see the children of Magneto thriving and doing so together in their own ways, all of them at a point where their former trauma and altered personalities/space in the world is behind them in a healthy “I’m in control of my life and how I do things” sort of way again.
Placing Wanda in a space where she is helping others, while also realizing her own limits and her own space in things is truly a perfect focus for this book. Here we get to see Wanda and Lorna, two characters that have been through trauma and been turned into villains just for having emotions or mental health issues (whole other thing to poke at some time about how both were treated in the mid-2000s), rise up in order to provide assistance to allow another woman who has dealt with trauma become the hero she can and should be. We’re told various times in the story on the page that Wanda very much realizes that this is Mardj’s story and they are here to assist but she must in the end be the hero in order to reach a better place for herself (as Wanda has done recently) but also for her people.
In the end, we also get a great moment between sisters where Lorna’s affirmation of Wanda and her being enough almost brought a tear to my eye. Having someone in our lives that looks at us and tells us that we’re enough or that we’re great the way we are, that’s something that goes a long way. Also, I like how the Microverse stuff was massive (compared to the Microverse itself) and takes up a good portion of the issue but it’s paced so well that there is plenty of room for the sisterly moments but also a massive step forward with the Darcy secret plot, and none of it feels rushed or packed in too tightly. It all has room to breathe and flourish.
There is just so much about this issue that is amazing and it has to be experienced to really understand and get the full impact. Anyone that likes these characters or this world or just wants a unique powerful comic book experience needs to pick it up right now.
Scarlet Witch #3 is now available from Marvel Comics.