Review: Scarlet Witch Witches' Road

by GregFahlgren

Reviewing the first collection of James Robinson's SCARLET WITCH!

Hi Ho everyone! Today, I’ve got another review for you, and this time around, it is the first collection of Marvel’s new Scarlet Witch book, entitled Witches’ Road. In the wake of Wanda’s return during Avengers vs X-Men, she has slowly climbed back into the top ranks of Marvel, joining the Avengers Unity Squad in Uncanny Avengers, and even getting her first feature film appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron. With this new found popularity, Marvel commissioned a new Scarlet Witch title, focusing on Wanda’s trials and tribulations outside of the Avengers.

This book has been very well received, so I was eager to dive right in the moment I laid hands on it. Needless to say I was delighted by what I found, so I won’t waste any more time in telling you about this wonderful book. Let’s go!

Personnel

Magic Makers

Now, this book had A LOT of people putting it together due to the nature of the story and its presentation, so please bear with me as I give you the amazing creative team that brought us Witches’ Road .

Writer: James Robinson

Artists: Vanessa Del Ey (#1), Marco Rudy (#2), Steve Dillon (#3 and 4 Ireland), Chris Visions (#3 and 4 Witches’ Road), Javier Pulido (#5)

Colourists: Jordie Bellaire (#1), Marco Rudy (#2), Frank Martin (#3 and 4 Ireland), Chris Visions (#3 and 4 Witches’ Road), Munsta Vicente (#5)

Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Cover Art: David Aja

Editor: Emily Shaw

Senior Editor Mark Paniccia

Art

Now, as you can see, there are a lot of artists that worked on this collection. In modern comic books, having a new artist and colourist for each new story is somewhat rare (for me anyway), but for the purpose if this book it worked beautifully. Given that every issue (or in the case of issues 3 and 4, two issues) had a different story to tell, the changing of the art teams actually worked hugely to the book’s advantage. Everyone did a stellar job from top to bottom, their work making each issue feeling unique and special.

That being said, I have to I will give special mention to the teams on issues 3 and 4, which was a two-parter dealing with the titular Witches’ Road. The story takes place both in Ireland and in the Road (another dimension that only witches can visit). Most books would just keep the art style in both locations, but editorial made a great decision by giving the art for either world to a different team. This effect really hammered home that change of location, making you feel like you were literally walking into another dimension with Wanda. The switch was so jarring that it took me aback for a moment, but that’s why it worked. The Road needed to look different because it WAS different, and on both sides the art team did a fantastic job.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Letterer Cory Petit, who did an absolutely outstanding job with every issue. He never once failed to find just the right font to fit the story, really shining in his work throughout

Sometimes having this many artists on a book, constantly switching teams from issue to issue, can be a hindrance. However, in the case of Scarlet Witch, it worked beautifully. Hat’s off to the whole team.

Story

Before this series got under way, Scarlet Witch had been making a HUGE comeback after her fall from grace in the mid-2000s. Featured heavily in Avengers vs X-Men, she went on to become a major part of Uncanny Avengers, where much of the old Wanda was rejuvenated. Where the story of Witches’ Road picks up is sometime after she (along with brother Quicksilver) learn that they are not the children of Magneto, and tells the story of her return to New York City in an effort to rebuild her life.

Throughout the collection, Wanda would face magical challenges, discovering through them that magic was broken somehow, and that it was not a natural occurrence. As her investigation continues, she is aided by the ghost of Agatha Harkness, her old teacher (hey, it’s magic!). Together, they track a magic user known as the Emerald Warlock, who is at the heart of magic’s decay. Each story features of different challenge, and unpeels another layer to who the Warlock is and what he is planning. It comes to a head in issues 3 and 4, where Wanda must enter the Witches’ Road, a dimension only witches may enter, to stop him. While on the Road, she encounters her birth mother, Natalya Maximoff (who was also known as the Scarlet Witch), along the way, leading to several emotional moments that nearly brought a tear to my eye. The Emerald Warlock is defeated in the end, Wanda proving that she was still a powerful hero despite all that had happened to her.

James Robinson really impressed me with his work in this book, especially with how well he wrote Wanda herself. Robinson delves deep into Wanda’s character, re-writing her past and even giving glimpses of what could possibly be in her future. Guilt and redemption were at the heart of these explorations, the course of Wanda’s life leading her to many dark places. From that darkness Wanda is searching for a way back to the light, and even though she’s gotten there for most part, there is still large part of her that feels like she will never get there.

The book also does a great job of explaining witchcraft to the reader and how it works within the Marvel Universe. The most important aspect of this was the idea of magic’s “cost”, something that I don’t think has been examined before. Robinson would use this idea brilliantly to show the different between Scarlet Witch and Emerald Warlock and how they treat magic. This technique was truly brilliant, and am interested to see where Robinson takes it in the future.

Before I wrap this up, I have to make a special mention for the creation of the Emerald Warlock. Wanda is a character with over fifty years of history behind her, much of that time spent as a hero, and has never once had an adversary of her own. Warlock is a brand new villain custom built for Wanda, and the contrasts could not be clearer in the story of Witches’ Road.  While Wanda accepts the cost of magic, the Knight refuses it, needing to grow more powerful no matter the damage he causes. More than that, while Wanda is a caring individual seeking redemption, Knight is a sadistic killer, murdering people for a century’s old slight on his family. He is truly the opposite of Wanda, and a perfect adversary for her to battle against in the new world that Marvel has created in the last few years.

All in all, the book is beautifully written, and is a great way to introduce the Scarlet Witch to new generation of readers.

Final Verdict

I picked up this book not really knowing what to expect. I had heard a lot of praise, I liked the lead character, but I wasn’t sure how the book would work. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, and really enjoyed the read from start to finish. Everyone from the whole creative team did an outstanding job, the art amazing from issue to issue, every artist more than pulling their weight. James Robinson’s story was superb, allowing the reader into the head of Scarlet Witch, and seeing Wanda in a light that had never been seen before, which hopefully lead to bigger and better things for her.

Bottom line, pick up this book, and if this collection was any indication, the rest of this series is going to be spectacular. Robinson and company have really done something great here and I can’t wait to see more.

Check Out My Other Reviews

Reviewing the two collections of DC's amazing solo title, BLACK CANARY
Reviewing the first collection of Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk's MOCKINGBIRD.
An in depth review for one of comic books most revered titles.
Reviewing Part One of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s masterful re-imagining of the origin of the Caped Crusader!
Reviewing the Secret Wars Tie-In that introduced Marvel's best new team of badasses!
Reviewing the 2nd Collection for A-Force, Marvel's newest Super-Team book.
Reviewing DC's Original Graphic Novel featuring two of the companies best Super Heroines.
A in depth review of Alex Ross's classic graphic novel, JUSTICE!
Reviewing the start of Gail Simone’s amazing run on Red Sonja as she teams with a host of all-stars for a series of stories for everyone’s favourite She-Devil.
Review of the first collected edition for Gail Simone's critically acclaimed Red Sonja run.
Reviewing the second arc of Gail Simone's awesome run on Red Sonja!!
Reviewing for the Wolverine Classic and soon to be motion picture, Old Man Logan
Updated: 01/24/2017, GregFahlgren
 
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