SCARLET WITCH: Page 9 of 12

BIOGRAPHY - part 9

Before Wanda could begin her efforts to undo the Decimation in earnest, however, the Avengers and X-Men arrived at the scene. Cyclops was irrationally angry and focused on seeking mutant justice for all those injured or killed on M-Day. A fight broke out between the Avengers and X-Men when they wouldn’t immediately turn Wanda over to the X-Men for mutant trial. As the situation deteriorated, Wanda knocked out both sides and brought the Young Avengers with her back to Doctor Doom, as she now remembered his part in summoning the Life Force. As a result, Wanda retained the affection she had for Victor during her amnesia. Believing she wouldn’t have the luxury of returning mutant powers individually any more, Wanda wanted Doom and Wiccan to help her cast a worldwide spell to undo the Decimation all at once, then remove the Life Force power from her entirely. Patriot of the Young Avengers was paranoid that Doom would keep the power for himself rather than remove it, and tried to disrupt their ceremony. His efforts only ended up causing the outcome he was afraid of, for now Victor held the Life Force instead of Wanda. [Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #7]

Scarlet Witch was immediately cautious of Victor, now glowing radiantly with the Life Force, having healed his facial scars and full of conviction about all the good he would be able to do for the world. Wanda was still ready to marry Victor, but she wanted him to give up the power, for it was too much for any one person to wield, even him. Victor refused, and soon enough the X-Men and Avengers assembled against him. Wanda and Billy recreated the spell to return the Life Force to its point of origin, drawing the power out of Doctor Doom and returning him to his original state. Wanda tried to help the wounded Victor, but he rejected her. Doom spat on Wanda’s love and claimed she had only ever been a means to an end for him, insisting he had used her to access the Life Force and even manipulated her from afar during that time to kill the Avengers and Decimate the mutants. Doom’s confession was loud enough for the Avengers and X-Men to hear but, even as he teleported away, they were left uncertain whether Victor von Doom had reverted to type, or merely tried to cover for the actions of the woman he still loved but pride denied to him. [Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #8]

Wanda was at loose ends after this. She no longer had the power to undo the Decimation. Doom’s words bought her reasonable doubt, but neither the X-Men nor even the Avengers truly trusted her. Simon, Pietro and Magneto stood by her, but the Scarlet Witch needed time to prove herself on her own, not through her relationships with others. She still intended to be as much of a mother to Tommy and Billy as they desired, though. Her children WERE back, despite the price it cost everyone else. [Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #9] And the cost WAS high. When Carol Danvers tried to bring Wanda home to Avengers Mansion for a visit, they were met at the threshold by Vision. Vision denounced Wanda for her role in the Avengers being "disassembled," using his body as a weapon against their fellow Avengers. Despite his return, this personal betrayal was too much to forgive. Vision made it clear Avengers Mansion was not Wanda’s home, and bade her to leave at once without returning. [Avengers vs. X-Men #0]

Even though she no longer held the Life Force, Wanda was still connected to the Decimation spell she had cast. As a result, she felt it when the Phoenix Force came towards Earth on a mission to undo her past actions. Wanda experienced dreams foretelling the coming of the Phoenix and the potential ramifications. She even experienced “feedback” when the Phoenix arrived for the sole purpose of undoing her work. [Avengers vs. X-Men #2, 5] In a twist, though, the Phoenix Force was diverted away from Hope Summers and possessed Five other X-Men. Wanda came to realize her visions of disaster came not from the Phoenix itself, but this corruption of its original mission. She appeared at the side of the Avengers as they tried to remove Hope from the Phoenix Five’s custody. Hope wanted to go with Wanda, and the Scarlet Witch was deeply sympathetic to Hope’s plight, being left behind by the power intended for her. When Cyclops of the Phoenix Five tried to stop Wanda and Hope from leaving, he received a jolt of pure chaos from Wanda’s powers, the first thing to make the Phoenix pause since arriving on Earth. [Avengers vs. X-Men #6]

Threatened by Wanda’s powers, Cyclops and the Phoenix Five declared “No More Avengers.” The Scarlet Witch helped the Avengers hide Hope while searching for the means to relieve the Phoenix Five of their powers. Wanda’s chaos magic proved to be an anathema to the Phoenix Force, making her a potent weapon to deploy in the field in engagements with the Five. Her potential threat spurned Namor to action, however, leading him to attack the nation of Wakanda where the Avengers were sequestered. One-on-one, Scarlet Witch was only able to hold off Namor for a period of time before falling. Despite their issues, it was Vision who rescued Wanda from the field of battle. Namor was defeated by the united force of all the Avengers present, but his portion of the Phoenix Force only left his body, disseminating among the remaining four empowered mutants and making them even stronger. [Avengers vs. X-Men #7-8]

Subsequent encounters left only Cyclops and Emma Frost standing among the Phoenix Five, and progressively more powerful so that Wanda alone could not stand against one of them. Hope’s training in K’un-Lun had uncovered a lost connection between the Phoenix and the Iron Fist, a curious combination that, merged with Hope mimicking Wanda’s hex power, created a potent force. Cyclops and Emma went too far, and soon the X-Men united with the Avengers to oppose them. Cyclops took down Emma to claim the full power of the Phoenix for himself and, in his zeal, killed Charles Xavier as well. This was the moment for Hope and Wanda. Together, the Mutant Messiah and the Scarlet Witch defeated the Dark Phoenix Cyclops, compelling the Phoenix Force to leave the last of its imperfect hosts.

Hope’s destiny stood before her, as she finally bonded with the Phoenix Force. She undid the damage done by the Dark Phoenix manifestation, and was prepared to do more. The Scarlet Witch stepped forward, though, and held Hope back from giving in to the Phoenix’s power entirely. Wanda encouraged Hope to be strong enough not to wield the power, but to give it up. Hope agreed, and so she and Wanda came together to do the one thing they intended to do all along: undo the Decimation. Even without the Life Force, Wanda’s chaos-magic was intrinsically linked to the Decimation spell. By lending her magic to the power of the Phoenix Force, Wanda and Hope ended the magic restricting the existence of mutantkind. All previous mutants did not regain their powers, but new mutants began manifesting powers almost immediately after they were done. Hope banished the Phoenix Force after that, choosing not to wield it any further, and Wanda had finally made amends for those three little words, “No More Mutants.” [Avengers vs. X-Men #9-12]

The price was high, however, and Scarlet Witch deeply felt the loss of Charles Xavier. The professor had always been welcoming to Wanda, despite her pedigree, and yet she had threatened or failed mutantkind more than her father ever could. Wanda wanted to rededicate herself to the pursuit of Xavier’s dream, but her help wasn’t welcomed by all. Rogue of the X-Men held a heavy grudge against the Scarlet Witch for everything she set in motion. She assaulted Wanda for daring to visit Xavier’s tomb before they were attacked and kidnapped by the S-Men, agents of the Red Skull. The Skull had a dream of his own, and saw Wanda as an incredibly useful pawn. The Nazi unearthed Xavier’s body and surgically implanted portions of the telepath’s brain onto his own, gaining the professor’s powers. It amused him to consider telepathically manipulating Wanda into turning her power on the mutant race again.

The Red Skull started a race riot in Manhattan with Rogue and Scarlet Witch as his puppets for the crowd to attack with hate and fear. Havok and Captain America led a team of Avengers and X-Men to confront the S-Men and drive back the Skull. The Scarlet Witch was reluctant to fight alongside Wolverine, given his attempts at murdering her earlier. Still, the Skull was forced into retreat, and a new Avengers Unity Division was forged from those present. Wanda tried to make amends with her new teammate Rogue afterwards, but the encounter with the Red Skull made Rogue more reluctant to embrace Wanda than ever. She saw the Scarlet Witch’s power as a loaded gun, ready to be aimed at the mutant race again the next time Wanda had a bad day or fell to a foreign influence. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #1-4]

Wanda’s guilt over the Decimation kept her fixated on making amends and ensuring the Avengers Unity Division worked. As a former team leader herself, a mutant and veteran Avenger, the Scarlet Witch felt like she should be leading the team. She openly questioned the decisions made by team leader Havok and new PR director Wasp, but Captain America privately explained to Wanda that, based on her history, she couldn’t be the face of the team. Steve even suggested perhaps Wanda shouldn’t be a visible member of the team at all at the next meeting, but Havok ended up supporting her and insisted on full transparency for the team so long as Cap was making him in charge.

Wanda relented on trying to control the team, but she also reached out to Wonder Man and asked him to join the Unity Division and PR team in support of her. Simon was still in love with Wanda and so he came, but she wasn’t looking to split her focus with a relationship at this time. The Avengers Unity Division opening press conference was a disaster when Simon’s brother, the Grim Reaper, crashed the party. Eric Williams had tried to kill himself and found he could not die, a fact which he blamed on Wanda’s witchcraft bringing him back in the first place. The Grim Reaper believed he had to either kill Wanda or be killed by her power in order to finally rest. It proved to be a fiasco when Rogue absorbed Wonder Man’s powers and accidentally killed the Reaper by underestimating Simon’s strength, all in front of the cameras. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #5]

When a S.H.I.E.L.D. investigation pressed for Rogue to be taken off active duty after the killing, the Scarlet Witch supported it for the greater good of the team’s image. Wanda’s hypocrisy fueled the growing divide between Avenger and X-Man members of the Unity Division as the Apocalypse Twins and Clan Akkaba targeted S.W.O.R.D.’s Peak station. Wanda and Rogue nearly came to blows again in a training session over the definition of mutant culture and what it should mean to the larger population. When the Twins revealed Wolverine and his X-Force team had killed a child clone of Apocalypse, leading to their rise, the Unity Division crumbled entirely. The Scarlet Witch and veteran Avengers wanted to defend the team’s good name and distance themselves from the X-Men. Havok stayed with the Avengers to try and hold the Unity mission together, but Thor left with Rogue, Wolverine and the other mutant members to hunt Akkaba on their own. The Unity Division could not even remain united with themselves. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #7-9]

While searching for Akkaba, Scarlet Witch was captured by the new Horsemen of Death and brought before the Apocalypse Twins. Uriel and Eimin explained their history to Wanda, dragged into the future by Kang the Conqueror as infants and raised to enact a planetary exodus to remove the mutant race from Kang’s path of conquest in the future. Despite his heavy-handed demands, the Twins had come to accept Kang’s vision that man and mutant could never live together in peace. They told Wanda that the Red Skull, with Charles Xavier’s brain, would soon rise to power as the Red Onslaught, and he would carry out her greatest fear and seize control of her mind, using her powers as a weapon to conquer the world.

In the alternative, the Akkaba Nebula had a world-ship that could transport the mutant population to a new home in the stars, a Planet X where mutants would be free from the camps the Red Onslaught had planned for them. Let the humans have Earth while the mutants forged their own path. Uriel and Eimin believed the Scarlet Witch capable of casting a spell to rapture the entire mutant race to their space ark for the journey, given the proper power source for her hex. The mutants could then sleep in stasis aboard the ark while the journey to their new home was undertaken. The Twins even provided her with Simon as that power source, with his ionic energy wrapped up in her hex power as a perfectly suitable fount of energy. Still, the Twins wanted it to be Wanda’s decision.

Wanda told Simon she intended to go along with the Twins’ plan, and wanted him to willingly agree to work with her. Simon was incredulous, but Wanda told him how she couldn’t handle being used as the tool of the Red Onslaught’s ascension.

Her guilt over the Decimation made her feel responsible for any tragedy that befell the mutant race after she made them vulnerable. Simon believed in Wanda and trusted she would do the right thing, so he agreed to do whatever she asked of him. Uriel and Eimin left the two of them alone to prepare, and Wanda used the privacy to reveal to Simon that she intended to rapture the mutants to the space-ark not into stasis sleep, but as an arriving army to overpower the Apocalypse Twins and save the Earth. Wanda’s love for Simon had been rekindled by his blind faith in her good intentions, and they spent the night together before readying themselves to cast the rapture hex in the morning.

Tragically, Uriel and Eimin had predicted Wanda’s deception, and made it an integral part of their own plans. The Twins only needed Wanda’s power to summon the mutants from Earth – the space-arks inherent teleport systems could place the mutants in stasis once they arrived regardless of Wanda’s intentions, preventing her army from being a threat. The very fact that Wanda seemed to be working with Akkaba was used against her and the fractured Unity Division. The Twins arranged for word of Wanda’s spell to reach Rogue and the other Avengers infiltrating the Akkaba Nebula. Thinking her own fears about Wanda had come to pass, Rogue interrupted the casting of Wanda’s hex and mortally wounded her. In the chaos that followed, Rogue was killed in turn by the Horsemen. Wanda used up the last of her strength and Simon’s, killing them both as well to finish the hex which only delivered the mutants into Akkaba’s grasp, letting Wanda unwittingly die as the pawn she always feared she would become. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #10-14]