Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #2

Issue Date: 
March 2016
Story Title: 

James Robinson (writer), Marco Rudy (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), David Aja (cover artist), Kris Anka (variant cover artist), Emily Shaw (editor), Mark Paniccia (senior editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Scarlet Witch created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Wanda arrives at the Greek Island of Santorini, where she seeks the advice of the goddess Hekate, explaining to her that she thinks magic is sick, and that she wants Hekate's opinion of this. Hekate points out that she barely casts a spell anymore, but agrees that she thinks something is wrong with magic. Hekate informs Wanda about the Minotaur who has been causing trouble on the island. Wanda knows that the Minotaur is long dead, but goes to investigate it anyway. She locates the creature in the middle of the night, and discovers that it is not the Minotaur of ancient times, but the scientifically altered Man-Bull, somehow transformed into the Minotaur thanks to a hex. She battles Man-Bull, who cannot cope with this revelation, and when Wanda's spell reverts him to his true form, Man-Bull leaps off the island into the ocean. Wanda departs, and speaks with the ghost of Agatha Harkness. They discuss the cost of magic, and Wanda is curious as to who transformed the Man-Bull, while back on Santorini, the Emerald Warlock stands over the smoldering remains of Hekate.

Full Summary: 

The moon shines down over a costal settlement. A strange, hulking figure moves across the cobblestones, obscured by the shadows, thinking to himself 'Theseus claimed that he killed me. He lied. I live on'.

'Careful. It's here. I know it's here' a man calls out to another, as they also move between the darkened buildings. The strange figure's eyes glow red, as he tells himself that these streets are his labyrinth now, and the night's darkness his maze. 'Wait, what's that noise?' one of the men asks. 'Feet on the ground – no. Hooves – running!' he exclaims. They both look nervous. 'Can you see anything?' the man asks his companion. 'Negative. No. I – can hear it – why can't I see -' he asks urgently, before blood sprays into the night – and across the nearby buildings.

'Yes, Theseus was a liar. I live! I, Minotaur!' the bull-man creature thinks himself as he stands over the gutted remains of the men, the moon glowing down over him.

The Greek island of Santori:
Birds fly over the clear water on a glorious day, while a woman with dark hair steps out onto a path and exclaims 'Wanda, my dear... this is a surprise. What brings you here? It's got to be about the Minotaur, right? You're certainly not here for the moussaka'.

'Minotaur? I don't know what you mean. No, my goddess Hekate. I seek your wisdom' Wanda responds. Hekate jokes that she hasn't felt wise in while, but that she will do her best. Hekate motions to a long table covered in food, and tells Wanda 'Food first, though – I have a beautiful grilled goat – lemon and herbs. You'll love it'. Wanda asks Hekate to forgive her, and tells her she is sure it is wonderful, but that she is a vegetarian. Hekate smiles and suggests some wine. 'I have a nice retsina' she offers Wanda, who reveals that she doesn't drink anymore, either, not anymore, as she takes medication. Hekate asks Wanda if she is sick, and narrowing her eyes, Wanda explains that the medication is for treating depression.

Hekate is surprised, and remarks that she thought a witch of Wanda's abilities could wipe out any malady to herself – physical or mental – with a wave of her hand. 'No magic comes without a cost. No curse is without a curse. You know that' Wanda tells Hekate, who asks 'So... no meat or alcohol?' 'Yes. I'm super fun at dinner parties' Wanda responds, before being asked if she likes coffee, or if that is off-limits, too. 'I love coffee' Wanda replies. 'Thank Hera for that' Hekate smiles, before suggesting they go out onto the terrace so Wanda can tell her what is up.

They sit at tables a few feet away from each other, as Wanda tells Hekate that, simply put, she has questions – or, more accurately, concerns – concerns about witchcraft's energies abroad in the world at present. 'And why come to me about it?' Hekate asks. Wanda reminds her that she is the Greek Goddess of Witches. 'So there's that' Wanda adds. Hekate informs Wanda that she hasn't cast a spell in years, and is content to serve her patrons. 'You mean this little cafe?' Wanda asks, examining her surroundings.

Hekate explains that it is all she needs for now. 'Of course, I might change my mind in a year or a week and decide to take over the world again' Hekate remarks, suggesting that she might become a super hero like Venus and her half-brother, Hercules. 'Ares, too, until he died' Hekate adds, pointing out that the Pantheon never stay dead for long. 'I'm sure the God of War and his weird little son, too, for that matter, they'll both set foot in the world anew at some point'. Hekate then asks how Hercules is. 'Still loud and annoying?' Wanda sips her coffee and replies that he is not so bad, but they have never been close, and she has no idea what he has been up to.

Wanda tells Hekate that she needs her wisdom. 'From you as a witch of old – the greatest witch to those who worshipped you' Wanda remarks. 'I haven't been that in a long time' Hekate replies, adding that the people's faith in a god – this one or that – often that belief is what makes the god strong, and it has been many summers since she has smelled the kiss of iron in the air from a blood sacrifice in her name. 'Oh, there's blood in the air, all right, but not for me' Hekate remarks.

'Still – you retain an awareness of witchcraft's energies – the flow of it through the ether?' Wanda asks. 'Perhaps' Hekate replies. 'Then doesn't it feel... broken to you?' Wanda asks. Hekate closes her eyes and pauses. 'Yes' she admits, opening her eyes, she adds that it has for a while now. 'Goddess, is it me? Have the bad things I've done in the past caused this fracture?' Wanda enquires, explaining that she worries this “sickness” within witchcraft is the cause of her fragile mental state. 'As I said, I haven't conjured or foretold in many moons. My ties to the craft lie sleeping like Ares' own dead son' Hekate remarks, adding that because of this, her connection is slight. 'Witchcraft in the world? I have no idea. This island, however? I'm versed enough still that I can sense it here. Something magical abides... and it is dark and it is deadly' Hekate tells Wanda, pointing out that if it is any indication of witchraft far and abroad, then yes, their hallowed art is very much broken.

Wanda asks Hekate about the dark magic she spoke of here on the island. 'The blood in the air – I assume you mean this Minotaur you spoke of earlier?' Wanda asks. Hekate tells her that the island by day is somewhat how it used to be – a place of light and laughter. 'It iis the night that brings the terror' she declares.

Hekate tells Wanda that in the past, the nights too were merriment and music – lovers under the moon, but now the doors and windows are locked sharply as the sun takes its rest – for the Minotaur walks the streets, looking, hunting. Locals. Tourists. One, two. Here, there. The death toll rises. 'Gracious! Why hasn't someone called the Avengers?' Wanda gasps. Hekate replies that she thought someone had, which is why Wanda is here. 'What about the Greek army?' Wanda enquires. 'They came. They failed' Hekate responds. She explains that mercenaries continue to look for it, although less with each that the Minotaur slaughters. 'What about super heroes? Your country has some, surely' Wanda remarks. 'Jon Ajax. Greece's own “Captain America” - they buried him last week' Hekate announces. She informs Wanda that the Minotaur is protected magically, she can feel that, and not the run-of-the-mill spells, either – but rather by broken, tainted witchcraft of the kind that Wanda has described. She adds that by all accounts, the protective aura that it's under renders it invisible to its hunters, so they are blind to attacks.

'So it's the creature of yore brought back from the dead, like Hercules – like, you say Ares might one day' Wanda asks. 'Perhaps' Hekate replies, adding that she feels something's different about it this time. She tells Wanda that she would be grateful if she was able to clean up this mess. 'I would owe you...and a god in your debt – even a lapsed one such as I – is a good thing to have up your sleeve' Hekate declares. Wanda sips some more coffee, before Hekate asks her what it will be. 'It will be dark soon... I think I'll take a stroll' Wanda replies.

The Scarlet Witch walks between the buildings. The pavements are deserted. She passes under a bridge, and in the darkness, red eyes glow. Waves lap at the shore, some water spills up onto the pavement where Wanda is walking. A shadow looms behind her, and Wanda turns. 'Why don't we put a stop to all this silliness...?' she suggests. The Minotaur looms over Wanda, who tells him that she sees him. 'I have the sight. The “Witch's sight”!' Wanda explains, informing the Minotaur that it shows her where he is, invisible or not, hiding or not. 'I see your evil. I see your pain. And more importantly... I see you for who you really are' Wanda declares. 'I... am... Minotaur!' the creature declares. 'No. You've been enchanted somehow. Someone has hexed you. Made you invisible to everyone... but me' Wanda explains. She tells the creature that it has more power, too, the power of the original Minotaur. 'But that's not who you are'. Wanda's eyes glow as she tells him that his real name is William Taurens, also known as Man-Bull, that he was scientifically altered and is a second-rate villain at best.

'I... am... MINOTAUR!' Man-Bull roars, rushing forward at Wanda, who moves out of his way just in time. Wanda realizes that he certainly has the Minotaur's powers, stronger and way faster. She knows Hekate was correct, he has been magically imbued, so Wanda can't defeat him the way he is.

Man-Bull races towards Wanda again, screeching to a halt when she dodges him yet again. He turns to face her, and Wanda tells herself that she needs a distraction, so casts a hex which causes the cobblestones around the Man-Bull to explode upwards at him. But that is all it is – a distraction. She knows it won't stop him, he will keep coming. She decides that what this really requires is something greater still than the magic that empowers him, to defeat the “beast” within. Wanda casts her hands forth and summons a hex from Chuvihani, of her homeland, linked to her by her birth and blood for added power. The spell is also linked to animals, the oneness that her people have always shared, to purge Man-Bull of the rank, base enchantment that envelops him. The hex strikes Man-Bull, who falls backwards, his appearance starts to change. 'My powers – what have you done?' he cries out.

Man-Bull looks at his now human hands: 'I was... I was a god. Born on Crete, the son of Zeus!' he declares. 'At least... that's what I thought... and those were my powers. The might of a god! Now... I'm just William Taurens. Big, ugly Bill from Camden, New Jersey... you made me a freak again! Not a god, a joke! Second-rate... a SECOND RATE FREAK!'

Furious, Man-Bull races forward, and Wanda realizes that she needs one more Roma hex – a protective shield, not strong enough for the Minotaur, but easily enough against Man-Bull – however he doesn't even try to attack Wanda, he just runs past her, declaring that he can't go back. 'Can't go... back' Man-Bull repeats as he races off the edge of the island, and plummets to the water below. Wanda watches and frowns as she sees the Man-Bull carried away in the current.

Dawn, Wanda is on a boat, leaving the island. 'It's not over, is it?' a voice calls out. 'Oh, hello, Agatha. You startled me' Wanda replies. 'So? I'm dead, remember? I have so few pleasures. Allow me some fun' the ghost of Agatha Harkness remarks. 'And now, of course it's not over. Far from it, I'd say' Wanda tells her friend, as Agatha's ghost stands next to Wanda on the boat, as Wanda explains that someone used magic to summon Man-Bull over from the States, give him the powers of a god and sent him on his merry way. 'And you're sure it wasn't Hekate playing you?' Agatha enquires. 'You suspicious old thing' Wanda tells Agatha. 'It's just... she wasn't always such a nice person' Agatha points out. Wanda reminds Agatha that Hekate isn't a “person” but a goddess. Wanda adds that she would have known if it was her, as she is more than content with her homemade tzatziki and grilled goat. 'But it was someone. And that's not what bothers me most...all magic has a cost, as you know... and a good witch, warlock or mage makes sure they pay the cost of the spells they cast' Wanda points out.

Wanda continues: 'I mean, look at me. After today's fun and games... a few more lines and grey hairs for sure. The mirror shows how my spells are aging my soul – how soon I'll die, even if to the outside world I still look young' Wanda tells Agatha, while seeing her true reflection. 'Don't flatter yourself, you don't look that young' Agatha mocks. 'I'll ignore that remark' Wanda replies. 'If you like, I may repeat it later, though' Agatha offers. Wanda laughs and tells Agatha that she loves her.

'So what about the “cost” bothers you?' Agatha enquires. Wanda points out that when a bad witch casts magic, they usually don't pay – they refuse to make the sacrifice – it is everything around them that pays instead, so whoever entranced Man-Bull into thinking he was a god also gave him the strength to take on the Greek Army – which means it took big magic. 'So if whoever is casting it isn't accounting for themselves... then I fear for whatever around them that's making the payment' Wanda adds.

Back on the island of Santori, at Hekate's cafe, her smoldering remains lie in a chair, as the man known as the Emerald Warlock stands nearby and smiles: 'Ha, y'looking tired, Hekate, me old darlin'. Sure 'n have y'self a wee nap'.

Characters Involved: 

Scarlet Witch

Agatha Harkness

Emerald Warlock


Story Notes: 

Hekate (or Hecate) is the Greek Goddess of Witches. She first appeared in Ms Marvel (1st series) #11-13. Many years later she made another appearance in Herc #3-6.

Ares has served as a member of various Avengers teams, and was slain during “The Siege” event. He is reborn again though in Contest of Champions (3rd series).

Ares' son, Phobos, was killed in Ares: God of War #3.

Venus is sometimes active as a hero, most regularly with the team Agents of Atlas. Interestingly enough though, it was revealed that that Venus is originally a Siren and not the goddess.

Theseus slew the Minotaur in the Greek myths.

Man-Bull wrongly claims he is the son of Zeus. However the original Minotaur was the son of a bull (and not the ‘really Zeus in another shape’ sort of bull either).

The Emerald Warlock was introduced in Uncanny Avengers Annual #1 and reappears next issue.

Chuvihani: Romany word for witch / wise woman

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