Her memory and sanity restored, the Scarlet Witch resolves to undo the madness of
M-Day, when she depowered most of the world's mutants with three little words - 'No more mutants'. Before that, she learns that Speed and Wiccan may be her lost boys.
The meeting between the three, which is as poignant as one might wish, is just one highlight of this issue. Others include Hawkeye's back and forth with Jessica Jones about taking 'tea' with a Wanda who was likely a Doombot, and the unexpected appearance of X-Factor members Madrox, Rictor, Shatterstar and Strong Guy.
Hawkeye, Jessica and the Beast standing around while the Young Avengers and
Ant-Man explain what's going on recalls one of the worst aspects of the original Avengers Dissassembled storyline. There, dozens of Marvel's mightiest quivered at the gates of Avengers Mansion for what seemed like years as Wanda went loony. Here, though, it's a quick, necessary exchange, with shared information likely to make the difference between living and dying (again, in the cases of Hawkeye and Ant-Man).
The arrival of X-Factor makes sense, and moves the story forward, while the Avengers are on their way to New York from the backwoods of Europe after their free-for-all with Dr Doom and Magneto. If Wanda manages to undo the havoc she wreaked, there's a chance Wolverine won't gut her - a fate she feels she deserves.
Allan Heinberg ladles out the drama in gorgeous dollops, spiked with thrilling dialogue. Like Wanda, he's undoing the damage of Avengers Disassembled and subsequent storylines, using his likeable cast to best advantage. This issue feels less like a Young Avengers book than usual, but then, it never claimed to be that. It reaches out of the Avengers corner of the Marvel Universe and further into X-Men territory, showing us that Peter David's X-Factor stable is safe in his hands.
My favourite line is spoken by the Beast. when he tells Wanda: 'In a moment of psychological ... instability you said three words that robbed every mutant on the planet ... and perhaps even the Omniverse ... of his or her mutant abilities.' That's one way of putting it. Me, I'd say, 'in a moment of convenient ... character assassination'.
Sadly, when Wanda says she can't guarantee being able to fix things, Hank misplaces his brain, replying: 'Still there's no harm in trying'. Errrr ...
Oh well, can't be the big brain all the time! And I'll forgive one duff line when we have page after page of the real Scarlet Witch, for the first time in a decade. I'll be truly disappointed should the promise of this series not be met, and Wanda be thrown back into a mindless state. This limited series may never address the dangling questions from earlier storylines - why did Dr Strange claim there was no such thing as chaos magic (Skrull!), and why did198 mutants retain their powers? - but so long as we're left with a redeemed Wanda, I'll be happy.
Penciller Jim Cheung continues to prove the perfect partner for Heinberg, his compositions complementing the script at every stage. He squeezes out all the emotion, without ever having the characters overact. There's a naturalness about these man-gods that makes them relatable. Kudos, too, to whichever member of the inking trio of Mark Morales, John Livesay and Dave Meikis handled the X-Factor scene, as the look is perfectly in keeping with the characters' appearance in their home title.
The colours of Justin Ponsor recall the horrors of Disassembled, then mimic the
X-Factor sensibilty. It's typically fine work. And VC's Cory Petit's lettering neatly underscore the script's big moments. The cover, by Cheung and Ponsor, is another beaut, with the presentation of Wanda's face a neat summation of the heroes' dilemma.
The book closes with a clever last line, one which could have massive repercussions across the Marvel line. Whatever happens, we're certain of another superb instalment next time.