It's been such a slow-moving series that people may have forgotten about it, but in Avengers: The Children's Crusade #7, the Scarlet Witch gets her official redemption from her despicable acts from the Avengers: Disassembled era thanks to Allan Heinberg. Sure, it's no redemption in anyone in the Marvel Universe's eyes, but to us, the longtime fans and readers, it's along the lines of blaming Hal Jordan's crazy murder spree on some giant yellow space bug named Parallax.
In the case of Wanda Maximoff, it's not a clean sweep of the damage Brian Michael Bendis did to her character back then, since we still have no idea why she suddenly forgot that she lost her mystically-created sons after she'd dealt with that loss relatively healthily before and was shown to be well aware of it during the Kurt Busiek Avengers run – one of many things from that era that Bendis either ignored or outright contradicted. But let's not rehash old wounds again.
The story thus far, if you don't remember since the first chapter of this 9-issue limited series was published back in July of 2010, is that the Young Avengers, led by the mystical Wiccan, began to seek out what became of Wanda Maximoff, since she hadn't really been seen since she "went crazy" and killed people and nearly wiped out mutantkind. They found her living as an amnesiac in Latveria, about to marry Dr. Doom. Cue chaos and fighting, as Magneto, the X-Men and the Avengers all got involved, all with their own reasons to seek Wanda out, all of which conflict and result in angry yelling, posturing and punching. Meanwhile, the YAs take a little trip back in time with Wanda and she regains her memory and her power, but she's lost her crazy, which means she's back to the character she once was, and feels unimaginably guilty and repentant for what happened, and she's determined to reverse what she did to mutantkind.
Here, we find out what really happened. When Wanda un-repressed the memory of losing her children, she did get desperate enough to seek out Dr. Doom for help, and the two of them tried to access and capture "The Life Force itself" to bring them back, combining their magical abilities, but of course, they couldn't control it, and the power possessed Wanda and granted her the insane godlike reality-warping power she'd never had before, and she lost complete control, and the end result is the last decade of Marvel comics. Thanks you, Mr. Heinberg, for helping it all make at least some kind of sense.
There's still some mystery to be had here, though, and it lies with Heinberg's take on Doom, who has seemed weirdly polite and helpful thus far, and it's through him that we get most of this story. It's possible there may be a huge swerve coming, especially with what happens at the end of A:TCC #7, when Wanda, Doom and Wiccan try to cast a 'lots more mutants' spell to reverse the damage, and Patriot's distrust of Doom spurs him to toss an incendiary arrow in the works and screws things up royally. This may have been Doom's endgame all along, and it will preserve the mutant status quo at the expense of Wanda's ability to redeem herself.
Heinberg obviously loves the history of the Marvel Universe, and it shows not only in his loving attempts to rehabilitate the Scarlet Witch, but even with minor moments, such as in the big splash page where the angry X-Men come to blows with Magneto and the Avengers, where he pairs off Ms. Marvel and Rogue and just gives them two lines of dialog that recall their long history together. It's also obvious that Heinberg has some beef with this last decade of Marvel, as in that same page, he has Spider-Man watch the tensions boil over and cracks "I have to be honest… I'm not a big fan of the super-heroes fighting each other." A sentiment echoed by Jessica Jones and Hawkeye on the next page, and Speed later on. But he's handling it in a much better way than a lot of disgruntled fanboys do. He's doing the things that the best writers of today do, and what fans of yore used to do in search of No-Prizes – he's finding ways to make the mistakes of other writers make sense again. It's a good, nice feeling to have people like Heinberg still able to work their labors of love in today's comic climate.
Jim Cheung's art is very nice as well. He has a little trouble differentiating faces at times, but to be fair, he's got a ridiculously huge cast of characters in this series, so it's forgivable. Avengers, X-Men, X-Factor, Young Avengers, some ol' Brotherhood action – the fact that he remains as detailed as he is while juggling all these people is still remarkable, and everything has a really shiny, clean and modern feel to it, which feels great in the service of reclaiming what was good about the past.
Avengers: The Children's Crusade has been one of those series you wish for. Putting right what once went wrong. It's been said that it was designed to end at the same time as X-Men: Schism and Fear Itself, which should be next month. So hopefully we won't have to wait nearly as long for #8 and #9 to give us this full story, so we can find out just what the future of the Scarlet Witch will be. As it stands now, though, some of us are just glad that she actually has a future to wonder about.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 9/10