• An early look at Scarlet Witch Annual #1 (2023) from Marvel Comics.
    Scarlet Witch Annual
    Steve Orlando
    Carlos Nieto
    Cory Petit
    Cover Artist:
    Russell Dauterman
    Release Date:
    Triona Farrell

Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, has been quite busy. After defeating the elder god Cthon, launching a new ongoing series, and starring in the brand-new Avengers title, Wanda has found herself in a bit of a stride. This new high watermark for the hero's status quo is where readers find her in Scarlet Witch Annual #1. This issue sets up the impending summer event, Contest of Chaos, while providing an emotionally relevant bottle issue for the series. Scarlet Witch Annual, written by Steve Orlando with art by Carlos Nieto, colors by Tríona Farrell, and letters by VC's Cory Petit, showcases Marvel's most powerful witches in an emotionally engaging, visually stunning issue.

This issue is the combination of a few different plot threads established in recent years. Before her solo series began, Wanda defeated Cthon, trapping him within her soul. Sometime after this, in the pages of Midnight Suns, Agatha Harkness found herself rejuvenated and young again. Now, after learning what Wanda has done with Cthon, Agatha has come to teach her former pupil a lesson about messing with powers on such a grand scale. What starts as a friendly conversation turns into an epic duel across the Marvel Universe as Agatha repeatedly tells Wanda she's made a mistake with Cthon.

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Scarlet Witch flying mid-battle in a pirate outfit

Orlando does a wonderful job maintaining the message Wanda has proclaimed since the start of this series. She is no longer haunted by her past and is more than capable of dealing with her future. Agatha spends most of the issue arguing that Wanda doesn't know what she's done and that she isn't strong enough to handle Cthon alone. Wanda stands firm, repeatedly showing that she knows exactly what she's doing and that her character isn't going to backslide into her worst tendencies. Though this issue is action-packed, it offers each character a couple of quiet moments to catch up. These scenes will be especially poignant for longtime fans as the characters reflect on their history and embrace their current situations.

Nieto's art is jaw-dropping from cover to cover. This book bills Wanda and Agatha as the two most powerful witches in the Marvel Universe, and it shows. Their powers are on full display throughout their battle. Iconic locales are rendered in exquisite detail, and period-accurate clothing blends perfectly with Wanda and Agatha's current costumes. The level of care put into each panel is palpable. Wanda and Agatha look as good as they ever have, and Nieto brings an incredible level of nuance to their expressions.

Scarlet Witch and Agatha crash onto the Living Tribunal's shoulder

Farrell's colors are dazzling throughout the issue. Red and purples are obvious highlights, being the standout colors for both Wanda and Agatha. Their costumes and powers showcase deep and varied hues, with an extreme level of intensity in the heat of battle. The colors are applied smoothly throughout, complementing the softness of Nieto's art. Petit's lettering is sharp and concise. This isn't an overly wordy issue, but it certainly has its fair share of mid-fight dialogue. Petit thoughtfully places speech balloons that guide the reader across the ever-changing landscape.

Being an Annual, this issue is slightly oversized, and Orlando and Nieto make the most of the extra room. The battle between Wanda and Agatha is a knock-down, drag-out brawl that's worth the cover price alone. The extra space allows this issue to be packed with gorgeous splash pages while still having the time for a few quiet, reflective scenes. With Scarlet Witch Annual #1, Orlando and the rest of the team deliver a thrilling prelude to Contest of Chaos while celebrating its titular characters' progress.