Scarlet Witch (1st series) #3

Issue Date: 
March 1994
Story Title: 
Scarlet in Battle!

Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (Writers), John Higgins (Penciler), Mark McKenna (Inker), Jim Novak (Letterer), Kevin Somers (Colorist), Nel Yomtov (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Trapped, the Scarlet Witch uses all her recent combat training against her transformed teammates, as much as she doesn’t like fighting her friends, Master Pandemonium urges them on. Agatha Harkness arrives at Palos Verdes, only to find Wanda missing. She finds War Machine’s helmet and uses her powers to learn from it where the Scarlet Witch is, and teleports herself there. Wanda continues to battle the Avengers West Coast, until she eventually runs into Wonder Man, who informs her that he has a Quinjet nearby. They make their way towards it, only for Wanda to discover that this is not Wonder Man, but Master Pandemonium in disguise, and soon, she is overwhelmed and rendered unconscious. Shortly though, she wakes, chained to totem which renders her powerless, and she listens to Master Pandemonium’s story of how after his defeat at her hands last time, he was sent to Mephisto’s realm, where he endured endless torture, until he finally managed to escape, after surviving only on his love for Wanda. Wanda decides that Pandemonium is deranged, when Agatha Harkness appears, she engages Pandemonium in battle, before freeing Wanda, and helping her keep the transformed Avengers West Coast at bay. They then turn their attention back to Master Pandemonium and imprison him on the totem where Wanda was kept captive. Pandemonium begins ranting that this is all wrong, that it’s not how the lady said it would be. Wanda is confused, until the “lady” makes her appearance - it’s Lore, who boasts that she is here to destroy the Scarlet Witch!

Full Summary: 

On the impossible edge of nowhere, teetering on the brink between madness and reality, friendless and alone…one woman feels her body sing with the power and rage that flows through it…and turns to fight. Her name is Wanda Maximoff - the Scarlet Witch! She is the mistress of probability altering hex power. She is a nexus being. But most importantly, she is an Avenger. Team leader of the Avengers West Coast, to be precise. Fury rages within her, and the mighty mutant cries ‘If you want me so much demon-spawn…come and get me!’, and with that, attacks her teammates, her friends, transformed into evil demonic facsimiles of themselves.

Seeking the answers to the mysteries that dog her past, the Scarlet Witch has come to Unity, a New England ghost town, only to find a demonic trap sent around her. He deadly foe, Master Pandemonium, long thought destroyed, has sprung the trap, conjuring foul perversions of Wanda’s teammates to beguile and capture her. But as Wanda lashes out at the transformed Johnny Walker a.k.a. USAgent, Master Pandemonium has underestimated Wanda’s inner strength. A strength that has driven her back from insane despair, and into the fray!

The Scarlet Witch detects the approach of James “War Machine” Rhodes behind her, and uses her physical combat training skills to toss him over into the path of reserve Avenger Miguel Santos a.k.a. the Living Lightning, electrifying him. Master Pandemonium screeches ‘No! No! Get her! She must be mine!’, as Julia “Spider-Woman” Carpenter, transformed into a large arachnid, reaches down to grab Wanda, but Wanda dodges her dear friend, running underneath her transformed form, ‘I’ve always admired your long legs, Julia - but these are ridiculous…all of them!’ Wanda exclaims, before Julia suddenly trips over, as Wanda points out, it’s easy to do that when you have so many feet.

‘Get her!’ screams Master Pandemonium. The transformed USAgent has regained his footing after being smacked over by Wanda and snarls ‘This way, pretty lady’, while holding a rather large weapon in his hand, he proceeds to swing his blade down towards Wanda, but she evades him, using a trick Walker himself taught her. However Agent’s sword still strikes - the ground though, so hard, that he shatters the small floating rock and is nearly cast into the nether himself beneath the space-lost island that was once Unity. ‘NOOOOO!’ he howls into the wind of eternity.

Wanda turns and sees the others behind her still. She knows she has no time to run, so casts another hex, fracturing and splitting probabilities as she unleashes her power, explosively germinating several oak seedlings in the soil beneath her attackers feet, and five hundred years of solid growth erupts in a millisecond. The result is…violent, as the tree spreads, and knocks the transformed heroes, then Master Pandemonium, to the ground. The uber-villain gets to his feet, ‘Get her! Get the Witch! Hound her out, my avenging spawn!’ he cries as Wanda takes her leave, rushing as fast as she can, with her transformed friends hot on her heels, ‘The Witch is mine!’ they shout.

Meanwhile, at the Avengers West Compound in Palos Verdes, California. ‘What’s this?’ the powerful sorceress Agatha Harkness asks as she picks up War Machine’s helmet, lying abandoned at the bottom of a staircase. Agatha realizes it is War Machine’s helmet and notes that it is alive with psychometric traces. Agatha remains emotionless as she declares that she came as soon as Wanda called, but that she fears she is too late, as the whole Compound is silent and empty.

Agatha wonders what fate has befallen the Avengers, and spins magic around the Compound lobby, focusing on the headgear of War Machine, armor Rhodey would choose never to be about. The room reeks of sorcery, and Agatha cries ‘Speak, metal mast. Where is Wanda Maximoff? Where are her friends? Where are you?’ ‘UNITY!’ the mask replies, and barely a moment later, an urgent lance of eldritch energy darts from the Compound, carrying Agatha Harkness in magical streaks.

Back in Unity, there is only silence on snow, until Wanda’s feet crunch through the icy drifts. Moving through the heavy, sleeping trees, sprinting like a steeplechaser, away from the taints of Pandemonium’s insanity, on towards the village. Suddenly, what appears to be a skeleton rises from the snow as Wanda runs past it, ‘I see you…I see you, Wanda!’ the skeleton cries, ‘The Witch is mine!’. But Wanda continues to run, telling the demon that its rantings are falling on deaf ears, while telling herself that she must find a way out of this nightmare.

Suddenly, Wanda keels over as the forest around her begins to explode, and suddenly War Machine swoops down overhead, ‘Found you, Witch!’ he exclaims, while Wanda shields herself from the splintering trees. Wanda decides that she will have to hex her way out of this one, and once again the probable slides sideways, making absolute the change of all the splintered trees missing her - War Machine is not as fortunate however.

The Scarlet Witch sees the other three coming for her, and casts another hex in their direction, this time affecting the roots of the trees, which rise from the ground, catching USAgent and Spider-Woman, causing them to stumble to the ground. The Living Lightning however continues to flicker in the sky, ‘Burn the Witch! Burn the Witch!’ he chants while blasting lightning rods all over the place. Wanda dodges the blasts and turns to face her opponent, ‘You’d be dangerous’ she tells him, ‘If you weren’t safely earthed!’ and with that, traps his form in the ground by means of yet another hex.

Unity rises to embrace Wanda as she approaches the village again, hoping that this time she can find a way of raising help, either from the Avengers in New York, or from her brother and X-Factor. But this is dark and dead Unity, as she enters a cabin, she sees a decayed body slumped on a table, and exclaims that the entire place is moldering and decayed. Wanda begins to think that she doesn’t have a chance, before turning around as she sees War Machine return, cutting loose with his repulsors.

The Scarlet Witch dodges the attack, she knows that her teammates, transformed, want her dead, and fears that sooner or later one of those random blasts is going to get her. Wanda continues to run, realizing that the town is being torn apart behind her, she decides that she is trapped, finished, when suddenly, she smacks into the solid form of Simon “Wonder Man” Williams. ‘Simon! Oh, you’re a wonderful sight! How did you get here?’ Wanda asks, wrapping her arms around her dear friend.

Simon tells Wanda to take it easy, and asks what is going on. Wanda explains that some foul creature pretending to be Master Pandemonium lured her here, adding that if it is the real Pandemonium, then something has twisted and corrupted him in unspeakable ways. Wanda adds that what is worse, Julia and the others have been transformed into monstrosities to hunt her down. ‘We have to help them!’ she exclaims, but Wonder Man tells her that they must get out of here, as they don’t stand a chance against the combined might of their teammates.

Simon informs Wanda that he has a Quinjet parked to the East of the church, so once they get clear, they can call the Avengers East coast and return here in force to settle this. Wanda takes Simon by the hand, telling him that it sounds like a fine plan and exclaiming that they have to get to that Quinjet. Rushing along the snow covered ground, Wanda exclaims that all the jogging they did has sure paid off, as she would never have kept ahead of their friends if Simon hadn’t kept her fit.

‘Jogging?’ Simon asks, trailing behind Wanda, his form shifts, becoming old and wrinkled. ‘Around the Compound every morning, right after weights! You remember!’ Wanda exclaims. As skin and flesh begins to fall from his face, Wonder Man grins and replies ‘Of course I do…’ Suddenly, Wanda detects something wrong, she turns, ‘Simon?’ she asks, before letting loose a howling scream as she sees her friend’s decayed form, drool dribbling from his mouth, she turns and sees the other transformed Avengers approach her, declaring that this isn’t Simon.

Indeed, as Master Pandemonium reveals himself, transforming from Wonder Man’s form into his own, telling Wanda that she has run in circles around this haunted town, but that every weary step she takes has led her back to him! The transformed USAgent smacks Wanda over, and she falls into the soft snow, with her teammates hovering around her grinning, the whiteness suddenly turns to black.

Soon, ‘Awake, my love!’ Master Pandemonium shouts as he touches Wanda’s forehead. Wanda opens her eyes ‘Where am I? What have you done to me, Pandemonium?’ she asks, finding herself bound to some kind of demonic stake, her neck also chained. Fire surrounds them, while the transformed Avengers West Coast members reside nearby. Master Pandemonium informs Wanda that he has brought her back to the catacomb beneath the church and assures her that she is safe - and quite helpless too. Pandemonium explains that the enchanted metal gibbet that confines her also neutralizes her hex power as completely as it does her physical strength.

Wanda asks Master Pandemonium why he is doing this, ‘If that’s who you truly are’ she adds. ‘I am!’ replies Master Pandemonium, remarking that indeed his form has been cruelly changed since they were last together. Pandemonium declares that, Mephisto, the Lord of Lies, cheated both he and Wanda by making him an agent of Mephisto’s own vile ambitions and by revealing that Wanda’s dear, dear children, were just phantom-spun aspects of his own soul. ‘I never wanted to hurt you, Wanda’ Pandemonium claims.

(Shown with illustrative flashback images)
Pandemonium informs Wanda that when she and her team last defeated him, he was torn back into Mephisto’s wretched domain, as Mephisto’s plan was in tatters, he was all too eager to make Pandemonium pay for his own failure. Master Pandemonium tells Wanda that the torments Mephisto unleashed upon him were agonizing. ‘I suffered, Wanda…suffered at the hands of the very demon forms I had once contained and commanded. Their grisly art warped me into the hideous freak that stands before you today!’.

Pandemonium tells Wanda that, all the while, the memory of her sustained his will to survive, explaining that, abruptly, he was free. Free to return to Earth, and to see her out once more. He reveals that he fled Mephisto’s realm and hurried to be at Wanda’s side. ‘Now your spirit is broken and you will be mine, just as it was foretold!’.

‘Foretold!?’ exclaims Wanda, telling Pandemonium that he makes no sense. ‘You’ve left sanity way behind you. I’d rather die than submit to your twisted will!’ Wanda exclaims. ‘WHAT? You reject me, even now!’ Master Pandemonium shouts, furious. He exclaims that this is not as he was told it would be, and warns Wanda that she shall suffer as he has suffered. ‘You will plead for release! You will be mine -’ he exclaims, when suddenly, ‘What? The candle flames flicker as if in a breeze!’ Master Pandemonium exclaims as he turns to a group of candles.

Pandemonium wonders how that can happen, as he has sealed this place in, when suddenly, ‘And I have unsealed it, demon!’ Agatha Harkness announces as she appears in a flash of magical energy. Agatha warns Master Pandemonium to release Wanda, or else she will incinerate him in the flames of Hell. Pandemonium ignores Agatha, calling her an old crone, he remarks that she may be commendable, but that she is weak and outnumbered. Motioning to the transformed Avengers, Pandemonium calls them his brood and warns Agatha that they will tear her limb from aged limb.
Agatha vanishes as the transformed heroes attack her, in fact, she merely “relocated” herself, close to Wanda, she breaks the shackles binding the Scarlet Witch, releasing her protégé. Wanda assures Agatha that she will thank her properly later, but that right now, she is far too angry to be polite! With that, Wanda weaves her hex power with sorcery, lancing them together, she fires beams of power, firstly at Spider-Woman, effectively trapping her in her own web.

Agatha notices the transformed War Machine lumber up behind her, ‘You poor fool’ she remarks before asking him is his lumbering armored bulk can escape the pull of a magnetized section of the cavern wall. Clearly, he cannot, as instantly, War Machine becomes stuck to the cavern wall. Agatha turns her attention to the hovering Living Lightning and conjures a water spout from the cavern’s natural streams to cool his anger, which works. Wanda faces off against the transformed USAgent, and uses the physical combat skills he taught her to uppercut him, hard, causing him to slam to the ground.

The two powerful witches then turn their attention to Master Pandemonium and Wanda tells Agatha to hit him with everything they have. The powerful blast of two times the magic slam Master Pandemonium forty feet across the cavern, and imprison him within the writing gibbet that held Wanda just moments ago. ‘No…no! This is wrong!’ Pandemonium cries. ‘This is not how it should be! This is not how the lady said it would be!’ Pandemonium screams.

‘What lady?’ Wanda asks, before turning to Agatha and asking her what Pandemonium is raving about. ‘What does he mean?’ she exclaims, before realizing that Agatha’s attention is turned elsewhere. Agatha replies that Master Pandemonium may have simply been an overture to the evil afoot here tonight. ‘Oh!’ Wanda exclaims, as she and Agatha stare at a third woman, materializing in the crypt in a blinding burst of light, the newcomer exclaims ‘Wanda, Scarlet Witch of Earth. I have come. It is time!’ the stranger declares that the process is complete, that she has reached into the heart of Wanda’s world, and into the heart of Wanda herself. ‘Now see my heart and know its truth. Submit to my truth, Wanda. Submit to the inevitable. Give up your heart to your successor…I am Lore. And you…you are mine!’….

Characters Involved: 

Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent, War Machine (all Avengers West Coast)
Living Lightning (Reserve member of the Avengers West Coast)

Agatha Harkness

Master Pandemonium (also disguised as Wonder Man)

In Illustrative flashback images:
Scarlet Witch
“Billy & Tommy Maximoff”
Master Pandemonium

Story Notes: 

This mini series takes place between Avengers West Coast #101 and #102.

The Avengers West Coast were transformed into demonic versions of themselves in Scarlet Witch #2.

The Scarlet Witch’s children were revealed to be two of the five shattered parts of Mephisto’s soul in Avengers West Coast #51-52.

Master Pandemonium last appeared in Avengers West Coast #51-52.

Agatha Harkness’ sudden appearance at the West Coast Compound would seem to imply that the Agatha Harkness who met Wanda in Unity was an illusion, or perhaps Lore in disguise. Although in truth, as retconned in Avengers (1st series) #503, Agatha’s appearances in this entire mini series, are nothing more than the Scarlet Witch’s conjuring.

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