BIOGRAPHY - part 12
The Scarlet Witch tried to return to the Avengers Unity Division after this, but her sudden departure months earlier had soured her relationship with Rogue and even Quicksilver was haunted by his memories of Wanda possessed by Chthon. Wanda received the most support from Doctor Voodoo, her fellow mage who had experienced possession himself a time or two. As the Avengers retired to the present ruins of the mansion, Wanda and Jericho got to know each other better. They were interrupted by Graviton, who had come to embrace nihilism and chaos after the rise of Hydra. He launched Scarlet Witch into orbit, but Voodoo used elemental spirits to keep her alive until the rest of the team distracted the villain and Wanda was brought back down to Earth. [Uncanny Avengers (3rd series) #26-27]
Wanda and Jericho used their magic to summon the Cyttora, diminutive gremlins obsessed with strength and durability who would repair their damaged mansion. However, their spell inadvertently summoned another of Cyttorak’s avatars, the unstoppable Juggernaut. The impetuous Quicksilver tried to show off for their NuHuman member Synapse in battle, and his refusal to work with the team led to Synapse being seriously injured. Scarlet Witch and Doctor Voodoo reversed their summoning spell, but the damage was done. At the hospital later, Pietro tried to blame everybody but himself for Emily’s injuries until Wanda forced him to confront his own responsibility. Quicksilver fled the Avengers in shame rather than face Synapse when she awoke. [Uncanny Avengers (3rd series) #28-29]
Wanda had another uncomfortable conversation ahead after Pietro’s departure. Shortly before Hydra’s takeover, Wonder Man had finally been freed from inside Rogue’s psyche. Wanda and Simon hadn’t had the chance to reunite until now. He still loved her, deeply, but Wanda had chosen a new path devoted to magic in his absence, and she wanted to move forward without any of her past ties binding her. Simon reluctantly accepted it was over between them. Instead, Wanda decided to seek a relationship with Jericho. In their talks, she had observed Doctor Voodoo’s connection to the spirit world was disengaging him from the physical world. Wanda had never known a man able to appreciate her as both woman and witch, and she hoped she and Jericho could seek that balance together. Jericho was flattered, and recipricated her affections. [Uncanny Avengers (3rd series) #30]
The Avengers Unity Division soon joined the U.S. Avengers and the main team in defending Earth against a contest between the Grandmaster and the Challenger, using the Black Order and Lethal Legion as their pawns. Most of Earth’s heroes were placed in temporal stasis by the Grandmaster to keep them from interfering, leaving only about a dozen Avengers active to serve as “obstacles” for the pawns. Pietro had heard the call and returned to action, but the field leader Rogue refused to trust him in battle and left him with Wanda and the reserve team. While Quicksilver sped off into one of the matches anyway, Scarlet Witch and Doctor Voodoo tried to undo the stasis affecting Vision and their other teammates. Wanda was successful in releasing Vision, but at the cost of Pietro falling into stasis in his place, leaving him vulnerable to the Legion at a critical moment.
When the injured Quicksilver was brought back from the battlefield, Wanda realized her mistake and let Vision fall back into stasis. She and Jericho joined one of the field teams instead, fighting to prevent the Order and Legion from collecting Pyramoids that gave them points on behalf of their patron Elders. The last Pyramoid was teleported into the Avengers auxiliary headquarters itself, leaving the reserves in jeopardy. As the away teams rushed home, Wanda deliberately recreated her earlier spell, putting Jericho in stasis to release Vision back at the base to aid the team.
As Challenger arrived to attack Earth directly, Pietro awoke from his injuries and perceived a beacon, moving faster than the eye could follow, which was keeping the other heroes in temporal stasis. He tried to catch it, but even Quicksilver wasn’t fast enough to snag the Elders’ tech alone. Pietro went to Wanda and begged her to cast a spell that would increase his powers. Wanda hadn’t believed Pietro about the beacon at first, but now saw that her brother was acting out of heroism and not trying to seize glory for himself. However, she foresaw that accelerating Pietro’s powers might not be reversible, and he would be trapped in a faster timeframe. Nevertheless, Quicksilver insisted the Avengers needed the extra manpower his sacrifice would provide. With the Scarlet Witch enhancing his powers and Synapse helping prevent his body from rejecting the exertion, Quicksilver caught the beacon and released the trapped Avengers from stasis, vanishing in the process. In the final battle, spurned on by Voyager’s memories of the team’s triumphs, the Scarlet Witch cast a hex that turned the words “Avengers Assemble!” into raw power, giving Earth’s Mightiest Heroes the strength of arms and conviction they needed to bring down the rogue Elder of the Universe. [Avengers (1st series) #675-689]
In the days that followed, Wanda and Jericho met with Synapse and the three of them imagined Pietro might still be alive. They believed the boost to his speed had moved him beyond the bounds of physical reality, and it might be possible to still reach him. [Avengers (1st series) #690] Working together, they connected with Quicksilver who was existing in a form of hypertime where the rest of the world seemed frozen around him. Creatures beyond human perception were feeding off his negative emotions to become threatening doubles, but Wanda helped her brother conquer these foes and his own emotions. Pietro banished his demons and returned to his sister, so that he and Wanda could rebuild their relationship. [Quicksilver: No Surrender #1-5]
Wanda and Jericho continued their relationship and planned to move in together. While catching up with Clint, though, Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch were drawn by Voyager into a conflict with Nyx, Olympian Goddess of Night. Long imprisoned by Zeus, Nyx attacked Hercules’ family on Olympus for vengeance and in search of the three shards of her stolen power. Wanda’s team of Avengers arrived on Olympus to find it in ruins. Nyx enchanted Wanda as well, imposing blindness on the Scarlet Witch, except for the ability to see Nyx’s own power. As Voyager teleported the Avengers away to find the shards before Nyx could, the Goddess of Night was secretly using Wanda as her bloodhound, seeing through her clouded eyes.
After Voyager brought them to the first missing shard, Nyx and her children arrived soon after them and trapped the Avengers in the void of night. Wanda realized how Nyx was tracking them and bound her eyes closed. However, Wanda not only needed her eyes to see her opponents, but also to guide her in tracing mystical sigils in the air to craft her spells. Scarlet Witch had Spectrum enter her mind as neural electricity, letting Monica “read” her mind and express her light form to make the symbols she needed appear. Wanda expelled the darkness that was binding the other Avengers, distracting Nyx long enough to steal the shard she had uncovered. Voyager cast Wanda blindly through one of her portals, and the Scarlet Witch wound up in the Hyborian Age of man.
Assaulted by bandits on a road she could not see, Wanda was rescued by the arrival of a barbarian named Conan. The Cimmerian swore his sword to Wanda, and they traveled together for a time to locate the bandits who stole the night’s shard from her. Conan had hidden depth for a barbarian, forged hard by a hard life. Wanda was drawn to him, and he to her, but she remembered her ties to Jericho, and Conan still dwelt on the loss of the pirate queen, Belit. They found night’s shard in the wicked city of Shadizar, where a Crow Cult intended to use it to call forth their god. They saved the cult’s human sacrifice, but in doing so the young woman pressed the recovered shard into Wanda’s hands, alerting Nyx of its location. The goddess was done with Wanda and drew back the magic that blinded her, but she abandoned the Avengers in the past to seek out the final shard. Voyager brought them where they needed to go, however, and Nyx was ultimately defeated at the House of Ideas itself. [Avengers: No Road Home #1-10]
The Scarlet Witch continued to explore her magicks and her relationship with Doctor Voodoo. When Jericho agreed to become headmaster of the Strange Academy in New Orleans (teaching responsible spellcraft to the next generation), Wanda agreed to work as a guest lecturer. [Strange Academy #1] She joined the Avengers reserves in defending the Earth against the Avengers’ former allies, the Cotati. Her heroism helped prevent the Savage Land from being co-opted by alien forces. [Empyre: Avengers #1-3] As the war ended, she also had the joy of attending her son’s wedding. Wiccan and Hulkling finally tied the knot, becoming Emperor and Court Wizard of the newly minted Kree-Skrull Alliance. [Empyre: Aftermath Avengers #1]
Wanda's history with Chthon would haunt her yet again when the original volume of the Darkhold (bound in the flesh of an Elder God) was uncovered by Doom. Wanda sensed the book's awakening and confronted Victor, warning him that he had opened a new path for Chthon to escape his realm and bring contagious madness to Earth. Doctor Doom had the iron will to read the original Darkhold without succumbing to madness himself, and so he agreed to let the Scarlet Witch aid him in opposing Chthon's rise. The Darkhold told of a group of five defenders who drove Chthon back in the past, and Wanda wanted to cast a divining spell to summon a new quintet to fulfill the prophecized roles. Doom's ego led him to believe he embodied all five roles, however, and departed for the Flickering Realms to battle Chthon alone. He returned, beaten and humbled, as Wanda assembled Iron Man, Wasp, Spider-Man, Blade and Black Bolt as her Darkhold Defenders.
Scarlet Witch hoped to inoculate her allies against the enviromental madness of Chthon's Other-Realm by having them read just enough from the Darkhold to gain a resistance. Instead, the defenders read too much and were corrupted, becoming the Darkhold Defiled. Wanda cast them into the Flickering Realms anyway, hoping their newfound madness and ambitions would delay Chthon regardless. Scarlet Witch and Doctor Doom regrouped to follow in the wake of their pawns. Wanda knew Chthon's greatest weakness was himself; he always placed a portions of himself in his creations, and therefore their destruction hurt him. Taking this idea to its extreme, Wanda turned on Victor and absorbed the flesh-bound pages of the Darkhold into herself. Having served as a vessel for Chthon in the past, her body was already primed to house this essence. And with the power of the Darkhold at her disposal, Wanda was able to absorb and contain Chthon as well, trapping the Elder God by binding him to her soul. With the new power at her fingertips, Wanda restored the sanity of the Darkhold Defiled and saw off Victor as well. Chthon had been her personal demon and tormentor since childhood, but now the Scarlet Witch had turned the tables on him and apparently ended his threat. [The Darkhold Alpha, Omega]
Guilt and recriminations over her past acts continued to haunt Wanda’s decisions, though. She attempted to rehabilitate Star, a super-villain in the making who had become the embodiment of the Reality Stone. Star’s powers in action created disturbances in the fabric of reality that reacted with Wanda’s own hex power. In Star, Wanda saw herself and the possibility of one woman being overwhelmed by too much power. [Star #1-5] For the same reason, Wanda refused to teach magic to Carol Danvers when she discovered sorcery was a major weakness of hers. Wanda saw it as a dark path to covet too much power, and what that power might be used for. [Captain Marvel (11th series) #28]
Heedless to her own advice, Wanda reached out to Doctor Strange, hoping he could help her un-ring the bell of her greatest crime, and restore the mutants who lost their powers to the Decimation. Stephen counseled Wanda instead that magic did not contain a “do over” button. His advice was to “ring a bigger bell,” meaning the good works she did from this point forward would have to be compensation enough. Wanda chose a poorer interpretation of his words, and decided to try and undo something that wasn’t her fault: the Genoshan massacre of sixteen million mutants. The Scarlet Witch gathered some truly heinous components for a vastly powerful spell, and only succeeded in creating millions of mutant zombies on Genosha. At great cost and with favors paid, Doctor Strange wearily helped save Wanda from herself, and the zombie apocalypse she nearly brought about in her myopic quest for redemption. [Empyre: X-Men #1-4]
Wanda’s redemption soon seemed further and further away, thanks to the establishment of a mutant nation-state on Krakoa. Magneto and Charles Xavier orchestrated an officially-recognized country where all mutants could receive citizenship. Mutants known as the Five learned to pool their powers to resurrect the dead (genuinely, and not as zombies like Wanda accomplished). They could even bring back mutants Decimated by Wanda with their powers intact. All well and good for the mutant race, but Wanda’s reputation was tarnished in the building of Krakoa. The Genoshan massacre and the Decimation were cited as the two greatest tragedies in mutant history. Wanda became a boogeyman in mutant society, labeled the Great Pretender for the “lie” of being a mutant, and officially considered an enemy of the state. [House of X #4, X-Men (5th series) #7]
Despite these public statements, however, Magneto found he missed having Wanda as his daughter. He reached out to her for the Hellfire Gala, an event thrown in honor of Krakoa's achievements. Magneto was willing to accept Wanda back as the daughter of his heart, and she appreciated his efforts at reconciliation. As they reconnected, Erik explained to Wanda the limitations of Krakoa's resurrection protocols. Mutant bodies could be created using DNA, but their minds were "backed up" only as far back as the Cerebro network had been put in place. Before a certain point in time, dead mutants could not be returned to Earth.
The Scarlet Witch had not forgotten Doctor Strange's advice of "ringing a bigger bell", and she thought she saw her opportunity. Time and space were but suggestions to a witch, and she wove together a pocket dimension from the fabric of the astral plane. This Eldritch Orchard would allow Cerebro to call forth mutant minds even from before it came online, leaving no mutant outside its grasp. However, Wanda realized her spell could not be fully catalyzed until she passed through Krakoa's resurrection protocols herself.
In her desperation, Scarlet Witch proposed a dangerous plan to Magneto. If she were killed, old back-ups from when Cerebro recognized her as a mutant could be used to restore her, just like any true mutant. Krakoa would normally have no cause to resurrect "the Great Pretender", though, and Wanda feared they wouldn't accept her gift without suspicion if she laid her plans out in advance.
Instead, she asked Magneto to murder her and leave her body where it might be easily discovered, creating a murder mystery that would prompt the Quiet Council to resurrect her out of necessity to avoid scrutiny or scandal. Although he protested vigorously, Magneto eventually gave in to his daughter's pleas. Enchanted uru metal was used to neutralize her powers, allowing Wanda to die in a manner that pointed the finger at Magneto. She said good-bye to her father, and promised death would not be the end for her.
And indeed it wasn't. In death, Wanda wound up in the Eldritch Orchard, haunted by her own future self in that place where space and time folded in on themselves. Magneto was furious at first when the Quiet Council ruled not to resurrect Wanda, and he remained the prime suspect. He passed on his Cerebro cradle to Hope Summers first, and Hope acted behind the Council's back to initiate Wanda's resurrection. In fact, Hope merely had to open the pathway and Wanda basically resurrected herself as the Five watched on. Because they were working from an old back-up from Cerebro, though, Wanda's subconscious had the opportunity to return to life without the guilt of her past actions. A portion of Wanda remained in the Eldritch Orchard while the Scarlet Witch returned to life, regressed to a point where she still believed she was married to the Vision.
The X-Men and Avengers tried to process Wanda's return on top of her murder. Jean and Rachel Grey attempted to help Wanda remember the years she had lost, but this inadvertently led to the creation of three Kaiju-style behemoths attacking Krakoa as representations of Wanda's repressed guilt. Fortunately, Wiccan and Speed had arrived during the chaos and Billy recognized the signs tying Wanda to these constructs. With Wiccan on one side of the Orchard and "Old Lady Wanda" pressuring her on the other, the Scarlet Witch finally accepted her guilt. Her three aspects re-merged to restore her full memories, and the Kaiju dispersed once Wanda's mind was whole once more.
What followed afterwards was a series of shell games as the Quiet Council continued to hide the secret of mutant resurrection from the Avengers while Wanda and Magneto hid the truth about her "murder" and resurrection. Toad ultimately took the fall for Wanda's "attempted" murder, and he was sentenced to exile in the Pit, despite her wish for clemency. The Avengers were satisifed, for the moment, that justice had been done. Wanda then brought forward her "inspiration" for the Eldritch Orchard, bringing it into sync with Krakoa and the Cerebro net with the help of Polaris, Legion, and Proteus. Her gift to mutantkind ensured that 20 million mutants previously beyond help now had the opportunity for resurrection. Whereas before Exodus might gather the children of Krakoa around the campfire to tell spooky stories of the Pretender...now they spoke of the Redeemer. [Hellfire Gala, X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #1-5]
Once...there was a witch...