James Robinson previews upcoming 'Scarlet Witch' issues
"We’re not turning our back on what’s happened," says the writer. "We’re being forward with her and focusing on her personality."
This past winter, Wanda Maximoff stepped into the spotlight, receiving a long overdue solo series as part of the All-New All-Different Marvel universe. Helmed by Eisner-award winning writer James Robinson, the series is taking its female-oriented focus seriously, making efforts to focus on Wanda’s personality, rather than the events of her past.
“If you ask, what’s her personality? What’s she like? People can’t really describe it,” Robinson tells EW. “They quantify it in, ‘she was the daughter of Magneto, she was the wife of Vision, she was the sibling of Quicksilver, she dissembled The Avengers.’ The sum total of who she is has been her very, very convoluted backstory, more so than what kind of a person she is. And I feel that for new readers, that can be a little bit off putting or alienating.” The chance to explore Wanda’s personality in a way that wasn’t tied to large superhero events was also a large appeal when it came to Robinson taking on the project.
“A lot of what she’s been doing is dealing with any aspect of her past, she’s because she’s been scared of her own powers,” he says. “She’s been scared of the world around her, she feels she’s been dominated by all the men in her life, and she hasn’t really faced a lot of this stuff. And now, I think, she’s really coming out of her shell.”
In the second issue, we become aware that magic comes with a price. “What you don’t realize is all the time she’s used her magic, it’s slowly taking time off the end of her life,” says Robinson, who ties this specific plot point into the overriding arc of the story, which shows Wanda believing witchcraft is broken. “She’s not sure how it’s broken or where it’s broken. We’re vague about what she’s done in the past, but she feels like she needs to make amends for past actions where she’s had periods of mental instability. And also she’s fearful that because of that, she herself is the cause of this break in witchcraft.”
So far, the first three issues have dealt with Wanda traversing the country, from Manhattan to Hong Kong to Greece. But that’s only the beginning, and Robinson promises that as the book moves forward, there will be more layers to peel back of Wanda’s personality. “One of the things in issue four that we’ll learn a little more about is her own past and her mother and the identity of her mother, and how that ties into her lineage of witchcraft. That will make her go out and seek her Romania heritage, too,” says Robinson, who likens Wanda’s Romania history of the past to “something out of a 1940s movie.” Robinson promises that his story will offer a more realistic take on the culture of Eastern Europe, and is using his own research of witchcraft to tie together Wanda’s past and her heritage.
“In my past as a writer, I did an Eisner-award winning miniseries called Witchcraft, so I had done research back in the day,” explains Robinson. “And now picking that up again and doing more reading I’ve found some interesting things, like the Romanian culture doesn’t particularly smile on witches. And red and scarlet are very unlucky colors. So why would you call yourself the Scarlet Witch? And that’s a question that no one thought to ask, but one I’ll be answering when Wanda starts to get more into her own culture.”
In another instance that makes Scarlet Witch a unique book, there’s no singular artist on the series: each issue pairs Robinson with a different collaborator. “We’ve been trying to marry up art styles with the right story, so there’s always something new and exciting,” Robinson says. The decision has allowed some of the industry’s most acclaimed creators to take a stab at creating Wanda’s world, including David Aja, Annie Wu, Vanessa Del Ray, Tula Lotay, Marguerite Sauvage, Javier Pulido, Chris Visions and more.
“We’ve had the luxury of having these artists who live in various countries, and we’re using these countries so that they’re literally in their own backyard,” says Robinson. Previewing more of Wanda’s upcoming arc, Robinson reveals that issue five (illustrated by Javier Palido) will be set in Northern Spain while issue six (illustrated by Margarete Sauvage) will take Wanda to Paris. “In the present day, there’s a case of possession that also feels like it’s somehow derived from witchcraft and she investigates that,” Robinson teases of Wanda’s time in Spain. As for Wanda’s Paris adventures? According to Robinson, the world will see her becoming involved with, “a hero who has lost his ability to be a hero due to a broken heart.” Wanda steps in to solve the problem by invoking spirits of the dead.
Through it all, Robinson has made sure not to fall into the inevitable “witch tropes” that have accompanied the character in past stories, electing to “paint her in a slightly new light and make her modern and accessible.” And he hopes this will also help more readers relate to the character, especially as Wanda’s story evolves.
“We’re building towards a finale that will take witchcraft literally out of this planet and into the universe, and will tie everything together in terms of Wanda, her past, her future, her mother, her brother and witchcraft in the Marvel Universe.”
Scarlet Witch #4 hits comic stores March 2. See an exclusive preview of pages from issues four, five and six below.