She’s absorbed the legendary Darkhold and trapped the demon Chthon by sheer force of will. But is the Scarlet Witch up to the challenge of Agatha Harkness? Your Major Spoilers review of Scarlet Witch Annual #1 from Marvel Comics awaits!
SCARLET WITCH ANNUAL #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Carlos Nieto
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Alanna Smith
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: June 21, 2023
Previously in Scarlet Witch: When a newly rejuvenated Agatha Harkness learns of the Scarlet Witch’s recent absorption of Chthon, she decides to educate her former student on the dangers of such an endeavor. But Wanda is not the meek pupil she once was… and Agatha’s intentions are not so straightforward.
WITCH VERSUS WITCH
We open with a pitched battle against a demon, one that the Scarlet Witch is about to lose, leaving the power of the Darkhold in new hands! It’d be dangerous if it were real, but instead, it’s one of Wanda’s magical traps, set for a demon who thinks he’s smarter than all the others. But as Darcy tries to come to terms with the dozens of demons-in-a-bottle, Agatha Harkness comes a’calling to visit her unofficial niece. She’s just been to a secret stronghold where she destroyed the demon Necrodamus, and she has words for her former pupil. Agatha questions whether or not Wanda is up to the task of holding in an elder god with the power of an ancient grimoire, but Wanda is happy to show her, even perhaps a tiny bit smug about her new life and her new power level…
…which is why Agatha has poisoned her tea.
AGATHA ALL ALONG?
This entire volume of Scarlet Witch has been a showcase of Wanda’s new confidence and mystical prowess, and this issue gives us a little bit more of that as she defeats Zzaxx The Living Dynamo with little more than a flick of her wrist. But Agatha’s presence provides a different, perhaps more important test, of her cunning and her ability to play Machiavellian games. Orlando’s pacing is nearly perfect, with the two witches playing a cat-and-mouse game that reminds me of the Disney version of The Sword In The Stone, ending with the Scarlet Witch playing her last card with a quiet flourish. The art isn’t quite as stellar as I have come to enjoy in Wanda’s regular series, but Nieto is skilled at making even a conversation feel vivid and exciting. The tour of the various dimensions of the witches’ duel is well done, and the moment when Darcy is ready to leap forward and fight Agatha herself is both sweet and terrifying.
BOTTOM LINE: AUNTIE AGATHA PLAYS BOTH SIDES
I’m not sure what the Contest of Chaos crossover is all about, but Scarlet Witch Annual #1 sets it off with a bang, giving us a surprise ending, followed by another surprise ending without feeling convoluted, with better-than-average art and reconciliation between two old friends earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. Agatha will apparently be returning throughout the rest of the summer annuals, with Wanda reuniting with her not-exactly-son Wiccan in the next issue. If you haven’t been following her book, you really should be.
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SCARLET WITCH ANNUAL #1
Wanda proves herself to be truly above her struggles, while Agatha reminds us she's hundreds of years old, all with lovely art and a little hero moment for Darcy. Well-crafted witchcraft.