Avengers West Coast #56-57 (1990): Darker than Scarlet; Original Torch dies

This is the famous “Darker Than Scarlet” story in which Wanda does the “Sandra Dee to Slut” transformation, shows up at West Coast Compound acting all hot and sexy.  You know an issue is a labor of love when it has a great title like the one above, and then has a great tagline on the cover: The Witch is Back!

Then this happens:


Scarlet Witch forcibly gives Wonder Man a handjob.  Seriously.  That’s clearly what happens there.  And if you don’t believe me, look at his shame afterwards.

And look at her hand in the panel above.

This may be the dirtiest sequence ever printed in a Marvel Comic.  It’s also rape.  No means no, Wanda.

And this may be the most confusing one…

…Is Scarlet Witch’s reality-altering hex power actually a form of time travel?

Immortus is messing with the team by popping and out (he sets Tigra free from a cage that Hank Pym put her in because she is completely feral again).  Immortus works in the time dimension, and for several issues has been destroying alternate realities.  (Uncharacteristically, Uatu the Watcher has NOT shown up to warn everyone.)  In the panels above, we learn that Scarlet Witch’s hex powers also work in the time dimension—a retcon of her abilities that I’m pretty sure isn’t carried forward after John Byrne leaves this book.

With all the Witch hubbub, her daddy Magneto arrives—along with Quicksilver (teleported via Lockjaw)—and the father-and-kids trio decide to reform the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Iron Man and Magento tell each other their feelings.

Nice to see that Iron Man figured out how to protect himself from Magneto.

Just as its getting good, it gets rushed and bad, because John Byrne, once again, couldn’t get along with Marvel Editorial (or vice-versa, whatever), and he’s fired from the book. So he wraps this complex story up quickly.  There’s a fight among the heroes…

…Wanda kills original Human Torch…

…And Magneto wraps the Avengers up into a ball of steel and sends them away.

After some really interesting and controversial stories, Byrne leaves in a hurry and next issue we get…Hydro Man.

What a shame.

Or not.  I can’t tell.

Issue #56 has a backup story where Cap is reunited with original Human Torch. So he gets to see the android and reminisce about their Invaders days before Torch is killed next issue. It’s mostly used as a platform to promote the Sub-Mariner series that will launch soon–and will be a Byrne creation.

 Really, this is a C+ because it ends so abruptly, but knowing Byrne would have done a great story if he’d been allowed to, I’m giving it a B+.


2 thoughts on “Avengers West Coast #56-57 (1990): Darker than Scarlet; Original Torch dies”

  1. So, the Original Human Torch buys it in this issue-? Not sure I can buy that. Has the Original Human Torch not been seen since 1990? C’mon! There is also the interesting question as to whether someone can be held legally liable for destroying an android, which is technically not alive- it’s a machine! Wanda is actually technically only guilty of destroying a piece of equipment, albeit a highly-sophisticated and sentient one. Probably the world’s first functioning Artificial Intelligence unit! But since the Original Human Torch belongs to no one, ( at least since it’s creator, the man it acknowledged as it’s “father”, Dr. Phineas Horton, was murdered by Ultron ) then no one can technically press charges for it’s destruction! Wanda undoubtedly took great glee in destroying the Torch, since the Torch is/was an android, like her former husband the Vision, who dumped her once it realized the logical impossibility of being married to a human being, even one as powerfully mutated and as sophisticated as the Scarlet Witch. I hope nobody out there cops an attitude with me over my views on android/human being relationships, but this is an issue I have been trying to figure out since 1970, when the Vision first began to develop inexplicable “feelings” toward his mutant colleague. Wanda was still a sweet young thing in those days. Marvel has permitted her to actually age, somewhat, and progress and grow as a character. Something they simply refuse to allow for the vast majority of their characters, most famously the ( current ) Human Torch, the Iceman, and, most annoyingly, Spider-Man himself. John Byrne is the undisputed Master of Comics, and when he took over “The West Coast Avengers” in 1988, his first order of business was to dissolve the Vision/Scarlet Witch marriage on the above-basis logic. As we see in the above recaps, Wanda responds by totally losing her shit, destroying the Torch and at least trying to maim Wonder Man. Perhaps coincidentally, these two Avengers were instrumental in the construction/creation of the Vision- the Torch provided the blueprint for the body, and Wonder Man donated his brain engrams. ( without consent ) I’m still vague in my understanding as to how the Vision and the Original Human Torch could exist simultaneously, since the Vision is supposed to be the Original Human Torch in a refurbished state, but there it is. In closing, I, too, am proud that Iron Man figured out a way to proof himself against Magneto’s awesome power. I figure there are three people on Earth who could pull that off, and they are Victor Von Doom, Mister Fantastic, and Iron Man! Word to Joe Mama!


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