The first supernatural graphic novel I’ll be reviewing this month is Scarlet Witch: Witches’ Road by James Robison. Wanda Maximoff has always been a character who’s existed in the background or been the catalyst for a great tragedy like M-Day. She never really had a chance to shine on her own before, so I was intrigued to read a story that had her as the protagonist. Wanda has isolated herself from everyone, including the Avengers and her brother, Pietro. Witches’ Road is about her taking control of her life in a way that’s never been seen before.
The story begins with Wanda waking up from a bad dream and being confronted by the ghost of her mentor, Agatha Harkness. Wanda senses a disturbance in the witchcraft of the world and vows to fix it. However, every time she uses a spell, her own life is drained and she loses years of her life. This demonstrates how heroic and selfless the Scarlet Witch is, with her trying to make up for her mistakes.
After vanquishing a Scottish hex in New York, Wanda’s quest takes her across the globe. Her first stop is the Greek island of Santorini, where the Minotaur has returned to life and is terrorising the locals. Wanda pays a visit to the Greek Goddess of witches, Hecate. The goddess implores her to vanquish the Minotaur and Wanda agrees. She finds the creature and it’s revealed the ‘Minotaur’ is simply a low-level villain called Man-Bull who was hexed with corrupting magic. Wanda defeats Man-Bull, who escapes into the sea.
Then, Wanda travels to Ireland to deal with a curse that’s sucking the life out of the land. To find out who is behind the broken witchcraft, Wanda and Agatha travel the Witches’ Road. It’s not long before Wanda comes face to face with her biological mother, Natalya Maximoff, the original Scarlet Witch.
Their family reunion is cut short by the arrival of Declan Dane, the source of Wanda’s troubles. Calling himself the Emerald Warlock, Dane battles Wanda and comes close to killing her. Wanda draws strength from the realm of the Irish mother goddesses and repels him.
Throughout the story, the Scarlet Witch shows her strength, courage and wit. Robinson’s focus on the relationship between Wanda and Agatha is enjoyable. Even in death, Harkness’ dry sarcasm doesn’t stop her from being a powerful presence. Wanda’s Romani heritage is also written respectfully, as there’s a tendency for Romani people to be referred to as ‘gypsys’ in literature.
There’s several artists at work, including Jordie Bellaire, Marco Rudy, Frank Marlin and Chris Visions. Usually, I prefer the art to remain consistent, otherwise I’m taken out of a story. But this is one of the rare occasions when varied art strengthens the graphic novel. Each chapter of the story feels like magic flowing across the page, and the different art styles mingle together to create something spectacular. My favourite art would have to be from Marco Rudy, who handles Wanda’s Greek adventure. His art is psychedelic and surreal.
Scarlet Witch: Witches’ Road is an impressive tale that allows Wanda to grow as a character, as well as introduce her to new readers. You can buy it from Amazon now.