Marvel comics are often well-drawn, but the new Scarlet Witch title breaks the mold with some of the best art the publisher has ever produced.
The following contains spoilers for Scarlet Witch (2023) #1, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
Of all the brilliant aspects of comics, the art somehow manages to play second fiddle to the story more often than not. In spite of comics’ being a visual medium, the narrative often receives far more attention than the visuals, with the only exception being when the art is poorly done. However, plenty of comics have art that defies expectations and complements the story and characters in unexpected ways. While often relegated to non-franchise comics because of their expense and brand standards, experimental art in big-name publishers like Marvel and DC is far from unheard of, especially recently.
Marvel’s 2023 Scarlet Witch #1 (by Steve Orlando, Sarah Pichelli, Matt Wilson, Russell Dauterman and C.B. Cebulski) is a brilliant example of how carefully rendered art can complement a story. In being subtle and striking, the comic uses a unique set of contrasts and colors to make its Scarlet Witch, complete with a new and improved wardrobe, evoke unique reactions in the reader. It’s brilliant and subtle, combining to form one of the most artistic masterpieces of recent Marvel history.
Scarlet Witch’s Power is Artistically Different
Scarlet Witch #1 begins by showing off Scarlet Witch at her full potential, with Wanda saving a group of people from a giant sea monster. The action sequence is beautiful but the most striking thing at the onset is the color. The blues of the ocean, sky and beast are juxtaposed with Wanda’s powers, the two colors violently contrasted. With the faint cerulean of the background contrasting against Wanda’s scarlet-colored powers in the foreground, the attention of the reader is quickly drawn to Wanda’s powers, and they also are a sight to behold.
The issue boasts the smoothness of many comics of the digital age, but Scarlet Witch’s powers here are particularly devoid of detail, each bolt of power essentially a red void cast onto the scene. They aren’t action-oriented, and what’s more, the shading doesn’t follow the rules of the art in the comic. Where the bright world of Scarlet Witch should have similar brightness to the titular character’s powers, it doesn’t, and these intentional contrasts with the art style of the comic both emphasize the character and make the imagery well worth remembering.
Scarlet Witch’s Artistic Style Brings Her Magic to Life
The Artistic Style of Scarlet Witch isn’t just pretty — it serves a narrative purpose. Wanda’s powers are otherworldly. They are magical and interdimensional, disregarding the confines of time and space. Likewise, her powers as shown in the comic disregard what shading and comic book logic say they should do. They don’t look dynamic for the sole reason that they are supposed to look dynamic. The shading is wrong because it should look a particular way but Wanda’s powers refuse to work that way. It’s all a subtle augmentation to the narrative that visual media conveys and is lost in much written media.
It’s in times like this that comic books have their purpose laid bare — to convey in the visual space narratives that TV and film cannot and visuals that traditional written narratives cannot. By embracing the opposite of traditional comic book art (and western art in general), Scarlet Witch‘s 2023 run promises to be interesting in terms of story, character and visuals. It’s exciting to see what the future may hold for the Scarlet Witch.