Avengers: The Children's Crusade is sure taking its sweet time hitting shelves, but if it's doing what I think it's doing, it can take all the time it needs. The last issue came out nearly three months ago, and it prompted a screed about how haphazardly the Scarlet Witch had been treated in the hands of Brian Michael Bendis, as well as the hope that the Wanda Maximoff we'd been reading about for years before Avengers: Disassembled and House of M might be returning in this series. The dread, however, was the fact that there were still four more issues left, which likely meant that Wanda rediscovering her memories meant that she was going to go right back to being crazy and it would take the combined efforts of the Avengers, Young Avengers, Magneto, Dr. Doom and the X-Men to bring her down once again.
Although the first two pages of Avengers: The Children's Crusade #6 make us believe she's going right back into revenge mode, as she re-summons the Kree warships and Ultron army that personified her inexplicable fury back in 2004, that's not what writer Allan Heinberg is doing here, stunningly enough – at least not yet. Instead, she's summoned them all again to try to commit suicide over her intense guilt and shame for what she's done. The first sign that we're dealing with the actual Wanda Maximoff here and not Crazy Plot Device Lady.
It takes Wiccan's intervention to bring her out of her guilt with the revelation that he and Speed are her twin children, whose souls had been transmigrated into new bodies. Wanda even confirms this with the use of her powers, and the result is a tearful reunion. Is she once again believing what she wants to believe thanks to reality-manipulating madness? Possibly, sure, but there's no indication of that derangement anymore. When Iron Man radioes Hawkeye to discover her state, Hawkeye responds by saying "She's fine. She's… she's Wanda." With that statement, I'm fairly well convinced that Heinberg is cementing himself into that pantheon of writers like Greg Pak, Jeff Parker, Dan Slott and Ed Brubaker who are capable of cleaning up the continuity messes and character warps committed by the more high-profile, do-whatever-suits-their-whims writers that handle most of the mega-events.
Heinberg also gives us some fun character moments in he midst of all this, usually at the expense of Hawkeye, whose chops are always fun to bust. There's the amusing banter between Clint and the Hawkeye of the Young Avengers, who takes some umbrage at being referred to as Hawkette, and before that, Heinberg takes a moment to solve the other continuity weirdness of Clint having tracked down Wanda previously in Transia. Jessica Jones is appalled to learn that Clint boffed his own killer then, and moments later, Clint is appalled to learn that the Wanda he boffed was actually a Doombot.
There's also a nice moment with Stature and her father, the newly-rescued-from-death Scott Lang. I'm not sure which way this one is going to fall – it could either be the solidification of Lang's return, and his jokey reunion with his ex-girlfriend Jessica Jones would seem to lean that way, or it could just be a means of giving Cassie Lang some closuer with her father issues befoer he'll have to be sent back from wherever he came from for some chronal-technobabble reason and be forced to die anyway.
However, the typical crazy-go-nuts scenario we're all braced against doesn't look like it's coming. Instead, there's a very interesting set-up for what Wanda may spend the rest of the series – and maybe her life – doing, and that's going to each mutant she depowered one by one and asking them if they want their powers back. The first ex-mutant up for bids is Rictor, who's currently trucking around with X-Factor Investigations, headed up by Jamie Madrox. Watching Wanda go to work and actually restore Rictor's powers is a very hopeful moment, but it makes one wonder about how much editorial wrangling is going on behind the scenes to make this series a reality.
If it even IS a reality. This could just be some long fever-dream of Wiccan's about what he'd like to see happen if he ever found his mother, even though there's been no indication of that. But after seeing how much hay the X-writers have made out of mutantkind being nearly extinct and how the upcoming X-Men: Schism event seems to be rooted firmly in that concept, as well as how a major character redefinition of Rictor is happening in a title not even his own and how stubborn those high-profile writers tend to be in rolling back any of their precious ideas, one has to wonder if any of this is going to stick. This series is also suffering from long delays, which is probably why it has such a back-burner, 'oh by the way, this is happening' feel a bit disconnected from the Marvel events, which just adds grist to the 'oh by the way, this is probably NOT really happening' mill that we hope is just the result of us overthinking things. The delays could just be blown deadlines, but given the scope here, they may also be the result of how many editorial hoops Heinberg may be jumping through to weave this tale and keep the rest of the House of Ideas happy.
Anyway, let's hope for the best and assume that we really are finally getting our Scarlet Witch back, for however long she'll remain around. A squad of surly-looking X-Men showing up at the end doesn't bode well for her, despite Wanda's plan to re-mutant the mutants. Wolverine made no secret of his desire to kill her in the earlier issues of this series, and Madrox reiterates the fact that as soon as mutants find out she was responsible for M-Day, they'll want to kill her, too. But Logan's not in this group – this is Cyclops in the lead here… and who knows? Maybe this is one more thing that will play right into Schism. Maybe this will be a defining event that helps drive the wedge between Scott and Logan and makes them all fight each other. It sure could be a meaty philosophical argument.
In the meantime, let's just be glad that she's fine. And she's Wanda.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 8.8/10