Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #8

Issue Date: 
September 2016
Story Title: 

James Robinson (writer), Tula Lotay (artist), Travis Lanham  (letterer), David Aja (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: 

James Robinson (writer), Tula Lotay (artist), Travis Lanham  (letterer), David Aja (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

Full Summary: 

Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch walks down a busy New York City street and examines her surroundings. She thinks to herself that she isn't the first to say this, and certainly won't be the last. 'It's just – to live here – walk here – is to walk among giants'. Wanda smiles, she knows she isn't the first to say it: 'I love New York'.

The day is Friday, and Wanda walks towards a brownstone with a sign outside that reads “Roland Grand, Psychiatrist, by appointment only”. She sits in the waiting room until a green light signals she can enter the psychiatrist's office. 'Hello, Doctor Grand' Wanda smiles as she enters, to find a man in a brown suit waiting for her. 'Ah, Wanda...well, look at you. You seem quite chipper today'. Wanda hangs her cloak up and tells the doctor that “chipper” makes her think of Fargo, which she is guessing isn't his intention. The doctor explains that chipper means happy, filled with the joys of the hour. Wanda tells the doctor that, she would say that aptly describes her. 'I'm quite chipper. The walk here was wonderful... a perfect autumn day'. But recalling the walk, Wanda reveals that she did run into a complication on the way here –, as she encountered a demon, but the complication was only slight.

Sitting opposite the doctor, Wanda tells him that, if they are starting, she wants to talk a bit about her mother. 'Before we get into things... um... you remember the rules?' the doctor interrupts Wanda, who hands him an envelope and tells him his payment his here. 'Excellent, now... you were saying?' the doctor continues.

Wanda tells him that she feels these visits are helping, that she is certainly less fearful that she is doing down a bad path. 'I'm more confident. More happy. Chipper, as you call it'. Dr Grand tells Wanda that it is apparent from her manner that she is not the sad woman who walked in here several months ago. 'But what is it you wanted to talk about? You were just starting to say when I interrupted you'. 'My mother' Wanda replies. 'What about her?' Dr Grand asks. Looking forlorn, Wanda tells the doctor that is the thing. 'I don't know “what” about her. I don't know anything'. Wanda informs the doctor that for a long time, she thought she was the daughter of a Romany woman and man, that she was a mutant, and thought that was how they got their abilities – hers and her brother Pietro's.

'It seems that was all a fabrication – our powers were due to the mad science of a maniac known as the High Evolutionary. He genetically modified my brother and me'. Wanda remembers the High Evolutionary, while the doctor remarks 'Hmmm'. 'Yes?' Wanda asks him. He replies that he is no expert of course, but that it seems to him, that in this crazy world where genetic modification is even a topic of conversation, he could see how one might grant someone speed, or flight. 'Or, I don't know – that sort of thing. Magic, however – isn't that a skill set? Spells to learn and such?' he asks. 'Am I wrong, Wanda? In which case, school me' he tells the Scarlet Witch, who confirms that he is absolutely correct. 'At best, I can only speculate that the High Evolutionary altered me in such a way that I'm more receptive to magical energy – that I'm somehow more easily able to “control the chaos”' Wanda explains.

Wanda continues, revealing that recently she learned her real mother is a different Romany woman – Natalya Maximoff. 'Same last name?' the doctor enquires. Wanda confirms that there is, and that she assumes there may be a familial link with the couple who raised her, but she is still looking into that. The doctor asks her how that investigation is going, to which Wanda tells him she is just begun, and that there are things about her mother that Agatha knows, but isn't telling her. 'The ghost. Agatha the ghost. I'm never not a little rattled saying that' the doctor remarks, sitting back in his chair. He asks Wanda why she thinks Agatha won't tell her. 'Do you think she believes that she's protecting you?' he asks. 'Why would you assume she's being protective?' Wanda responds. The doctor tells Wanda that when she describes Agatha, how she enjoys scaring the cleaner and the mailman, and how she never lets Wanda forget that she kill her. 'Through your descriptions, I get the distinct sense that she loves you and wants to protect you'.

'Yes, perhaps too much' Wanda agrees, before pointing out that perhaps she wouldn't only now be stepping out into the world if Agatha, and her brother Pietro and the Avengers hadn't always jumped up so quickly to protect her. 'Then perhaps I might have had to learn how to do a better job of looking after myself and controlling my powers' Wanda tells the doctor, who asks her if she feels some sense of betrayal. 'At what?' Wanda enquires. 'Well, if Agatha knew who your mother really was – and chose not to tell you – if that happened to me, I'd certainly feel let down, at the very least' the doctor remarks. Wanda tells him that it isn't that simple, with witches, that is. 'Fate. We witches are very big on fate'.

One night, Wanda and Agatha's ghost are on the balcony of Wanda's apartment, as Agatha tells Wanda that she has no idea how much she wanted to tell her. 'About fate, though – you had to find out only when you were meant to'. 'But you let me think those people were my parents. You let me think this whole time that my father was – how could you?' Wanda exclaims. 'Well, now you know the truth. And I suppose you hate me' Agatha replies. Wanda tells Agatha that she could never hate her, and calls her an old drama queen. 'But still... you might have dropped me a hint before now. Something subtle like “don't worry about mutants, Magneto's not your Dad” would have been nice' Wanda jokes.

'Hmmm' the doctor remarks. 'You're “hmmming again, Dr Grand' Wanda points out. 'It's just – you're lying to me' the doctor tells Wanda. 'Oh?' Wanda asks. 'To yourself, at the very least. You're massaging the truth' the doctor declares. 'Really? Well, now you've gotten my attention' Wanda tells him. Dr Grand remarks that he thinks Wanda might be happier and more confident, but that she continues to exhibit this trait from before, that she would do well to keep in mind: 'You say that you're just beginning the investigation into your mother, and yet you've known about her for a while now'. 'Yes, but as I told you in our prior sessions, witchcraft is broken and I'm on a mission -' Wanda begins, to which the doctor interrupts her: 'And yet, you find time to see me and take strolls in Manhattan on a brisk day such as this morning'

Dr Grand puts the tips of his fingers together: 'When you had your most extreme mental breakdown -' he begins. Wanda remembers kissing Captain America, and She-Hulk ripping apart her ex-husband, the Vision. 'When I disassembled the Avengers, you mean. That was a long, strange road, doctor' Wanda replies, as the doctor reminds her that one of the fatalities was her ex-husband, the Vision. 'Even though he's back now, from all accounts' the doctor adds. Wanda hangs her head and confirms that the Vision has rejoined the Avengers. 'But he had been your husband. There must have been some love, or, at the very least, affection and regard between you, correct?' the doctor asks. Wanda explains that the Vision had changed before that – he had lost the humanity that she saw grow within him during their time together. 'Yes or no?' the doctor asks. 'Of course I retained some affection for him – even comfort at times. If nothing else, he was always good to me' Wanda announces.

'And yet, you did nothing to help restore him when the Avengers had him in storage, ripped apart. With all that you're able to do with your powers, at no point did it occur to you to help your ex-husband?' the doctor asks. He adds that considering Wanda was the cause of his state, he wants to know why she didn't make a priority of setting things right.

Wanda glances away from the doctor, who then brings up Wanda's other love – Simon Williams. 'I have written here from a few sessions back – his essence - “soul”, if you believe in such things, is still within the body of another heroine'. Wanda looks back up at the doctor and tells him that Rogue and Simon share their consciousness. 'And that suits the pair of them? I'd imagine not' the doctor declares, before pointing out that Wanda chooses not to do anything to extract Williams. 'And...' he begins. 'Yes? I can't wait for this' Wanda mutters. The doctor tells Wanda that there is no need to get hostile, and reminds her that she pays him to be honest. 'You're right. Of course. What else?' Wanda replies. 'The children' the doctor declares.

'Billy and Tommy' Wanda responds. 'You're their mother, and yet you barely speak to them. You rarely see them. They certainly don't seem an important part of your life' Doctor Grand declares. Wanda remains silent, before explaining that it is difficult to deal with, that she still wrestles with that one. 'They were the reincarnated spirits of my dead children – babies that I created when I was married to the Vision' Wanda explains. Wanda informs the doctor that the children weren't human, really – their souls were part of a demon. 'It's very horrible and confusing and something I try not to think about' Wanda adds, revealing that the babies' souls “died” and she was bereft. She adds that so much occurred after that – and disassembling the Avengers and uttering “no more mutants” all happened because of it. Wanda continues, points out that then two boys, one with her abilities and one with speed powers of her brother appeared, calling themselves Wiccan and Speed, and while they were the reincarnated souls of her two sons, they were teenagers – too old to be her children.

'Either “Billy” and “Tommy” were two normal kids until my sons' souls took over their bodies, effectively killing two more innocent lives. Or, their spirits went back in time and were born from other mothers more than a decade ago – who raised them through childhood while I had nothing to do with it'. Wanda adds that she would have been a teenager herself when the babies were born. 'I know that makes me terrible' she admits. Wanda begins to cry, and announces that, either way, she loves them, but the fact is, they lived so much of their lives without her, and she simply doesn't feel comfortable around them. 'I mean, I try when I see them. I do'.

The doctor looks at Wanda and tells her that his point here is still the same – he doesn't see her trying to change things, making the effort. 'You're repressing your past, pretending that it isn't there. Perhaps that's why you keep so many plates spinning all the time' he suggests. Wanda doesn't say anything as the tears stream down her face, before asking Dr Grand what he is telling her. 'That despite this new Wanda Maximoff, going out looking to “heal” witchcraft... there's still a part of you that remains scared to act. Frozen, as you have been in the past' he points out.

Doctor Grand continues, reminding Wanda that she complains of people overprotecting her, but at no time did she ever try to stop them, and in fact, from everything she has related in prior visits, it seems as if she almost welcomed their interference. 'I see that pattern of behavior hasn't changed, despite our sessions'. He tells Wanda that as much as this mission she is on to save witchcraft might seem proactive, which it is, it is also a way of putting off dealing with other things – her mother, her past, secrets and truths – things that are too difficult or painful or frightening. 'The fact remains... you need to face your past if you want to face yourself. It's as simple as that'. Wanda starts to tell the doctor that she is doing all she can, but he interrupts her, stating that their time is up and that they will have to resume things next week. 'Yes, Doctor Grand. I understand' Wanda replies as she stands up, to which Doctor Grand tells her not to forget his payment.

Thursday: Wanda walks through Central Park on a clear day. Someone dressed as Wanda, or perhaps in her imagination, is playing with two young children resembling Wiccan and Speed. 'Mother!' one of them shouts.

Friday, rain pours down outside as Wanda enters Dr Grand's office, carrying an envelope. 'Wanda. You look – I'm sensing a sadness about you. Is anything the matter?' the doctor asks. 'Yes, as a matter of fact -' Wanda begins, to which Dr Grand interrupts her: 'Before we forget... my fee' he declares. 'Here' Wanda tells him, handing the envelope. She sighs, and admits that she was hoping this once he would forget. 'Not that it matters – not after all the other payments you've collected from me. That ship has sailed' Wanda points out. The doctor looks up at her and tells her that he isn't following. 'We spoke about how frustrated I am that everyone's always trying to protect me' Wanda reminds him. 'You know what else bothers me? People who assume I'm slow on the uptake. That I need things explained to me. That I'm stupid' Wanda announces. She informs Dr Grand that she knows what he has been doing all along – that this has all been an elaborate con. 'I know who you really are'.

'Oh, you do?' Doctor Grand asks, smiling. Hands on hips, Wanda frowns and tells him that is the most insulting thing. 'We've met before and it's not like you've ever worn a mask' she points out. She realizes he is not in his colorful costume and has grown a beard, but she recognized him instantly. 'Your real name is Maynard Tiboldt and when you're not posing as a medical professional, you're the Ringmaster of the Circus of Crime' Wanda announces. She tells him that while he has been conducting her therapy, he has also been using his mastery of hypnotism to control her actions. 'Or so you thought' she adds. 'Or so I thought?' the Ringmaster asks. Wanda explains that a few months ago, she felt the familiar tickle on the back of her neck, and she knew instantly that someone was trying to mesmerize her. 'You compelled me to see a therapist – so that it could be you in this guise of “Doctor Grand”' Wanda tells him.

Wanda continues, stating that subsequent hypnotic mesmerisms occurred during those sessions, and no, she wasn't meant to remember, but of course she did. 'You made me commit theft. Jewelry, mainly – expensive. You had me teleport the gems from locations all about the country every week. My payment to you'. Wanda reveals that she had hexed the Ringmaster into seeing and believing that the jewelry was real and not worthless glass copies. 'Anything to add, “Doctor”?' Wanda asks. 'I don't – err – damn! You were onto me the whole time? I felt certain I'd -' the Ringmaster begins, before asking Wanda if she knew who he was months ago, then why she went along with the charade? 'It's been months. You could have exposed and defeated me at the onset' he points out. 'Honestly?' Wanda asks. 'I'm your “psychiatrist”, Wanda, what do we have if not honesty between each other? Ha!' the Ringmaster laughs. Wanda laughs, too, and informs the Ringmaster that he was good at his side of the charade – too good. 'Your psychiatric advice was excellent, rounded, grounded, sage. You have a genuine gift'.

'Well, keeping that circus rabble in line took a good deal of psychology. I dare say that's where I get it from' the Ringmaster claims as he stands up. Wanda then informs the Ringmaster that she enjoyed their sessions, and truthfully, she was flattered he had taken such elaborate measures just for her alone. 'Last week, the things you told me, you were right. It was a breakthrough. And it was getting silly letting it go on this long... I think it's time our “sessions” ended'.

Wanda then stresses to the Ringmaster that he genuinely helped her and that she is grateful. 'Grateful enough to let me go?' the Ringmaster asks, leaning into Wanda. 'Not a chance' she tells him. Police officers enter the room, and Wanda informs the Ringmaster that they allowed her this time to say goodbye. 'So, it's prison for me. Again. But... hmm' the Ringmaster remarks as the police officers put him in handcuffs.

'You're “hmming” yet again, “Doctor Grand”' Wanda points out. The Ringmaster tells Wanda that while he is standing here with her in this office, he can't help thinking like “Grand” would. 'So?' Wanda asks him. 'Well... what about you, Wanda? No more sessions, so what are you going to do with the hour?' the Ringmaster enquires. Wanda informs him that their last session got her reflecting on things. 'I've put off facing my heritage – I'm stalling and... I honestly don't know what I have been afraid of all of this time. I'm not going to be afraid anymore' Wanda announces. 'And that's the breakthrough you spoke of' the Ringmaster replies. 'Yes, exactly. So... I'm off to Eastern Europe. I leave tonight' Wanda declares, adding that she seeks her people, the Roma, and the answers they hold. 'Thanks to you' she tells the Ringmaster as he is led away. 'Thanks to me, eh? Well, if that is truly the case... I'm glad' the Ringmaster replies, glancing back at Wanda, while the rain continues to pour down outside.

Characters Involved: 

Scarlet Witch

Dr. Roland Grand / Ringmaster

Police officers

in Wanda's memory:
Scarlet Witch
Young Wanda and Pietro
High Evolutionary
New Men
Natalya Maximoff

In flashback
Scarlet Witch
Agatha Harkness

in Wanda's memory:
Scarlet Witch & Captain America
Speed & Wiccan

In Illustrative image:
The Great Gambonnos, Human Cannonball, Princess Python, Ringmaster (all Circus of Crime)

Story Notes: 

Wanda disassembled the Avengers during Avengers (1st series) #500-503 and several related tie-in issues, however she was later revealed in Avengers: The Children's Crusade, to have been under the control of the Lifeforce at this time.

A rampaging She-Hulk destroyed the Vision during “Avengers Disassembled”, however the Scarlet Witch and the Vision had been separated for many years, ever since West Coast Avengers (2nd series) #42-45 when the Vision was destroyed and rebuilt without his emotions.

Wonder Man's soul has been residing in Rogue since the events of Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #15-22.

Wanda gave birth in the classic Vision and Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #12, however in Avengers West Coast #51-52, Wanda learnt that they were not real, in but were two of five parts missing from Mephisto’s essence.

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