Today I will be reviewing a Marvel comics title; Scarlet Witch issue #10! This latest comic is written by James Robinson, artist Kei Zama and cover art by David Aja.
We begin this tale with a haiku about a fox, which actually holds significance the story. In a room we meet Hiroshi Tanaka, a fabled [Aoi Master] a kind of equivalent to a warlock and it seems he is reaching his end days. Lamenting the fact that he feels he hasn’t done anything like gorge on an American burger, he holds tight that he has done enough before winding up killed! But by who or what?
The setting of the latest adventure for the resident witch, Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlet Witch takes place in Kyoto, Japan, where she tries finding out who murdered the Aoi Master. Being guided by the unseen hand of feeling like a part of her was killed (through magic), Wanda soon starts investigating who could have done it by visiting the people Hiroshi acquainted himself with.
She surmises the sights of Kyoto as saying it’s a cross between the past and now. Unknown to our resident witch a fox follows from the distance who apparently has human thoughts.
It’s easy to figure out that’s Hiroshi in his reborn self and the fact he remembers his human life is short of a miracle but the animal instincts are kicking in, slowly eroding his “human” mind.
Wanda goes to meet “the good friend”, Maki Hokkaido, retired inspector turned liaison to the police. In his heyday he was part of the aoi master’s exploits when it came to him getting involved with mysteries at the time. Being a police inspector it’s easy to figure (despite this being the Marvel universe) that Maki didn’t put much stock in what the aoi master did but over time grew to trust him and also have the benefit of being Hiroshi’s friend.
Scarlet Witch asks him questions on the murder and who would do that or if any of his old enemies came back to do it and Maki tells her otherwise. By the time the aoi master retired, all of his enemies were either dead or made peace. She is able to get a clue on the matter if Hiroshi had a kind of successor to which Maki doesn’t recall anybody to his confusion.
Next in line is “the great love” of the aoi master, Noriko Furuya. Despite loving one another and upon explaining the circumstances Noriko explained that due to some spell, anyone Hiroshi would fall in love with would meet a dreadful end. The red witch soon ask if they had any children which was a no.
Scarlet Witch soon goes to Kyoto Prison, an old enemy of the aoi master, Jun Yamada, a kind of “Doctor Doom” character as he too melded science and magic together to best the aoi master (but lower standard).
We are introduced that Jun has a spell cast over him by the late master which prevents him from accessing those abilities despite Hiroshi being dead (which shows he was a powerful practitioner of the arts).
Wanda asks the same question and is met with a surprise of someone else knowing the master, a man named Benchley.
What next happens is a doozy as Wanda confronts the man named Benchley, a dapper kind of fellow with a top hat, she confesses that for a short while she did not know the name even though she heard it while at the prison.
Apparently Benchley has a spell of wiping out any knowledge of his name from anyone that even says it causing confusion. Benchley was Hiroshi’s manservant and shows his true colors as Wanda confronts the truth of the matter of if the aoi master had no woman in his life, he would have no heir for his abilities passed on to his children and not to the assistant so in order get those powers for himself he cursed Hiroshi and made the spell of knowledge being forgotten that he was ever connected with him.
Throwing off the facade, Benchley shows his true colors (literally) as he was the one to kill his master and forged a pact with an [Oni]; a Japanese demon. Not only does he change but he has also captured the people Wanda met and they are trapped in his body, being tormented!
Knowing she can’t go full power unless she wants to destroy innocent souls, Scarlet Witch uses a purification spell in Japanese and aims her magic in the water which causes part of the bridge to break where the oni is to purify the body, thereby wiping him out and sparing the hostages.
With the day saved and mystery solved Wanda thinks about what is waiting for her in her homeland. Upon recent issues she has been curious on her blood lineage and is about to go to her homeland and reaffirms that witchcraft is sick and she wants to discover why that is.
As she leaves Hiroshi is content and happy that his murder was solved however his cognitive mind is soon overcome with the fox. He soon leaves in the snow to find food. Thereby continue his new life as a fox.
The Nimble Young Fox Leaps
Through Snow and Shadow With
Blood Upon His Lips-
*Bunkyo Era 1861-1864*
Scarlet Witch continues to fascinate me with it’s story, themes and expands on Wanda Maximoff as a character. From previous issues it has continued to hold strong that she isn’t just some harbinger of chaos or at this point an Avenger, but a person putting one foot out to continue a long journey of some redemption.
When I first heard that she would be getting a comic series I was cynical about it but reading the first issue, than the next one and next one, shut me that Scarlet Witch isn’t just “wish fulfillment” that she could magically poof someone out of existence. Her powers come with a price, which she is dealing with that her soul is aging, which is sometimes seen when ever she looks at a glass surface.
Whether she’ll survive is up to the writer but given how the Marvel Cinema train is running at the moment, this incarnation of the Scarlet Witch will somehow survive in the end.
What I liked about this issue was the essence that it took place in Japan! Being a fan of anime and Japanese culture was a bonus and seeing the beautiful imagery affirmed that Japan has good scenery along with the comic.
It’s not some big superhero-esque comic for the hard core I’m sad to say but more of exposition, vast different cultures and symbolism. The comic is also showing that Wanda is aware of the many different kinds of magic out there as she spoke some spells in the place she was in to get the full effect (Irish for one back around issue 3 or 4). Her well of innate knowledge is cool to see.
This series hasn’t left me disappointed in the slightest so I recommend picking up the first volume Scarlet Witch collection to see how it begins in post Secret Wars.
Plot – 8
Art – 9
Characters – 7
Total – 9 out of 10.
Recommended reading : Scarlet Witch Vol. 1 – Witches Road (issues 1-5)