Picking at scabs (again)

If I ever wavered even for a moment about skipping House of M, Marvel has kindly provided six preview pages to reinforce my decision.

(Spoilers ahead.)

In the preview, the Scarlet Witch, still crazy, attempts to recreate the birth of her imaginary twins. Fortunately, the menfolk (Charles Xavier and Magneto, Wanda’s father) are on hand to subdue the poor wretch… for now.

So basically the big, sprawling event springs from one of my least favorite elements of Avengers: Disassembled. Poor, deluded, inadvertently destructive Wanda can’t get her shit together, never got appropriate male supervision in the use of her powers, and couldn’t have real babies, so she’s unconsciously lashing out at the world. Fun!

There’s really no way a story could rebound from that starting point, at least for me. I admit that it’s mostly personal, though I do think Disassembled was a terrible story on almost every level. I also like to think that the transformation of Wanda from competent heroine of long standing to vacant time bomb of mutant mayhem was just an empirically bad idea, made worse by the fact that she was largely absent from the story where it happened. It was wasteful and destructive and it didn’t say anything interesting about any of the characters.

In case I haven’t made it obvious, the Scarlet Witch was one of the first Marvel characters to really click for me. It’s not difficult to see why, looking back.

She was a mutant who lived without concealment or apology. She was who she was, and she left it to others to accept that or not. She also loved who she loved, regardless of how friends, family, or society might respond. She met her various challenges squarely, making friends, finding romance, earning respect, and coming into her own along the way. It was extremely rewarding to watch, inviting identification from a number of perspectives, and it was very unusual by super-heroic standards.

In their decision to turn her into a destructive plot device, Marvel has devalued most of that. Beyond being unable to control her abilities to a lethal extent, Wanda’s attempts at building a life and a family are now portrayed as pathetic, signs of her instability instead of evidence of her determination. “She wanted love, companionship, and support. Oh, how could we not have seen how terribly sick she was?”

And that’s just beyond depressing to me. A great character with tons of potential gets reduced to little more than a malfunctioning weapon, another in the litany of crazy females who can’t handle the pressure, and she’s a particularly deadly one to boot. (She doesn’t even get the nasty thrill of acting with intent. She’s just crazy, and she doesn’t mean any of it.)

Please feel free to accuse me of hating change, because when change makes characters less interesting and reduces their potential to generate engrossing stories, I do hate it.

3 Responses to Picking at scabs (again)

  1. Alex says:

    I really hated the way Bendis came in as a mercenary and just throttled everything. There was ZERO buildup. Just bad writing. Change for the sake of change is not needed.

  2. John Jakala says:

    I won’t be getting “House of M” because I’m really tired of all these reality-altering, cosmic-reset storylines, but this preview *did* feature dialogue from Bendis that I actually found bearable, so that’s something.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I grew up with Englehart’s Wanda — so I agree that what’s come since [first with Byrne, now Bendis] is an awful deconstruction of an interesting, strong-willed character. I hadn’t thought of it until reading your post [I only quick-read Dissembled in the store] but I’d be hard-pressed to think of another character assasination as drastic as changing an aggressive, outspoken woman into an insane loose canon…

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