Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Scarlet Witch's Hair Color Part 3

We've reached Avengers #75 (1970), the issue in Wanda and Pietro returned to the Avengers. As noted last time, on the cover Wanda's hair was its usual blue-black.
Avengers 75-RoyThomas-JohnBuscemaAvengers 75-Arkon

But wait! Inside #75 it's a different story. Not only does Wanda sport a slightly modified costume--it's now strapless and she has shorter gloves and simpler boots--but her hair is back to brown. By this time Marvel's color palette/technology had changed and her brown hair seemed a bit lighter, more redder, and less heavily inked than it had during her X-Men days. Quicksilver also received a makeover; his costume was now primarily light blue (silvery?) instead of green.
Avengers 75-WarlordandWitch
Avengers #75 (1970) Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Toad
But why the change back to brown? A reader asked that very question in Avengers #81's letter column, calling Wanda's hair color in #75 "a ghastly mistake" and demanding to know why "Tom [Palmer] inked it auburn." (Marvel likely tweaked the letter; I mean, how many teenage/twentysomething comic book readers would describe hair color as "auburn?") The letter writer concluded by imploring Marvel to "PLEASE bring back Wanda's lovely black hair!!!"

The answer at last! Marvel--presumably Roy Thomas, then the Avengers writer--responded by stating first, that inkers aren't the ones who color comics, but that in any event inker Tom Palmer also happened to be the colorist for the Avengers at the time; and second, that both Tom and "Rascally Roy discovered that, in the early issues of The X-Men...wistful Wanda's hair was indeed auburn...Thus, since Tom and Roy both prefer auburn to the gray and blue highlights applied since then, they decided to change her back to her original shade." And there you have it: it was none other than Roy Thomas--with input from Avengers inker/colorist Palmer--who determined that Wanda return to her roots.

As an aside, whoever colored Hulk #128 must not have gotten Roy's memo. Hulk #128 was on sale the same time as Avengers #76, was written by Roy Thomas, and marked the first instance of the post-#76 core team--Clint as Goliath, Vision, Black Panther and the newly-returned Wanda and Pietro--in action. Yet despite all this, in the Hulk issue Wanda's hair was colored its old blue-black hue. 
Scarlet Witch in Hulk #128 (1970)
Anyway, despite Hulk #128, and even though Wanda's hair would continue to be colored blue-black on quite a few Avengers covers, and also occasionally within the stories themselves (Avengers #104-5 for instance), for the most part Wanda's hair has remained brown to this day.
Avengers 75-John Buscema-Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch  in 1970-2
Now I know some consider Wanda's brown hair "red"--she is the Scarlet Witch after all--and her hair at times has been been described as auburn...or chestnut...or mahogany or...To prove I'm willing to compromise, what say we call her hair color marsala. According to the Pantone Color Institute, which named it the 2015 Color of the Year, marsala is a "rich and full-bodied red-brown." That pretty much says it all, doesn't it? 

Next, part 4 of the Scarlet Witch Hair Chronicles: tones and highlights.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Scarlet Witch's Hair Color Part 2

As we saw last time, Wanda and Pietro left the X-Men comic (X-Men #11) and immediately showed up that same month's Avengers comic. Her hair was still brown on the cover of Avengers #16...
Avengers 16-OldOrderChangeth
On the cover of Avengers #16 
...however in the story itself, we come across a Stan Lee caption describing a certain "graceful black-haired beauty."  Yep, instead of a brown base color Wanda's wavy windswept hair now has a grey base, again with a lot of black inking.
Avengers 16-LeeKirby-OldOrderChangeth
Wanda and Pietro in Avengers #16 (1965)
The million dollar question: why the change in Wanda's hair color? Was Stan Lee merely being poetic when he called her black-haired--after all many describe dark brown hair as "black"-- and did the colorist mistakenly take him literally? Or if the change to black hair was an editorial decision, did showman Stan hope to invoke an association with a certain ebon hair'd, headline-grabbing movie queen?
Cleopatra Elizabeth Taylor

Maybe Stan felt that since Wanda was now a newly-minted heroine she needed to have her own unique hair color. At that time Marvel's lead super-heroines--so few in number you could count 'em on one hand with fingers to spare--all had different hair colors: Sue Storm was the blonde, Jean Grey was the redhead, and Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, had brown hair. Perhaps Stan thought two Marvel "brownettes" would confuse the kiddies (never mind that Jan and Hank's feature in Tales to Astonish would only last a couple of months after they departed the Avengers).  
XMen Jean Grey
Sue Storm, Jean Grey and Janet Van Dyne
But guess what, the new Sub-Mariner series that replaced Jan and Hank's in Astonish included the return of a character, Lady Dorma, who--though non-powered--had always had an exotic look similar to Wanda's...including wavy, tousled brown hair with black shading!
Tales to Astonish 70-Lady Dorma
Dorma in Tales to Astonish #70 (1965)
In any event, here's the black-haired Wanda with her Kooky Quartet cohorts: 
Avengers Captain America ScarletWitch
Scarlet Witch in 1965-6
By Avengers #36 the team had grown beyond the Kooky Quartet and Wanda traded in her big ol' headgear for a much sleeker model (though a reader wrote in and complained that the new design looked like it would puncture Wanda's cheeks every time she spoke). A couple of issues later, Marvel expanded its color palette and began to use blue as her hair's base color, instead of the grey.
Avengers 38
1967: shades of grey in Avengers #36...and dark blue in Avengers #38 
Here's Wanda by John Buscema, Don Heck, George Tuska and Werner Roth. 
Scarlet Witch Hair John Buscema Don Heck
Scarlet Witch in 1967-8
Wanda and Pietro left the team in Avengers #53 (1968) and didn't rejoin until nearly two years later in Avengers #75 (1970). During her time away she was shown in Avengers Annual #2, Avengers # 58, Spider-Man #71 and X-Men #59-60, always with black hair.
Scarlet Witch-Neal Adams-John Buscema
Scarlet Witch in 1968-9
As mentioned above, Wanda and Pietro returned to the team in Avengers #75. On the cover she has blue-black hair...
Avengers 75-QuicksilverScarletWitch
On the cover of  Avengers #75 (1970)
...but as with #16, inside it's a different story! Next:The Scarlet Witch returns to her roots. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Scarlet Witch's Hair Color Part 1

At long last! The answer to the number one question about the Scarlet Witch! No, it's not whether Elizabeth Olsen can fill out Wanda's costume...or what the heck does Wanda's hex power actually do...or how did she conceive kids with the Vision...or is she or isn't she Magneto's daughter...or more recently, is she a mutant or Inhuman...or...

Forget about all that. The burning question is: what color is the Scarlet Witch's hair--is it black or is it brown? Over the years I've posted Wanda hair chronologies including at the CBR forums (though from what I understand, since their reboot older posts are stored in their archives). Anyway, here 's my handy-dandy overview of Wanda's Silver Age/Bronze Age hair color. Note, the following is based on how Wanda appeared in the actual Silver Age issues at the time these comics were first published, and not in reprints! 

Let's begin. As many Marvelites know, Wanda first appeared in 1964's X-Men #4. In her first appearance she had brown hair. Her hair color is not the same brown color as, say, Reed Richards, Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Jane Foster or Betty Ross had; Wanda's hair is darker than theirs and there's a lot of black linework--inking--to accentuate her hair's curly/wavy texture; but Wanda's base color is undeniably brown. 
XMen 4-Magneto- BrotherhoodofEvilMutants
Wanda makes a point in X-Men #4 (1965)
Here are some more images of Wanda during her original stint with Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (X-Men #4-7, X-Men #11)  plus a shot of her in Strange Tales #128 (Jan. 1965). The brown-haired Wanda, Magneto and the rest of the Brotherhood also made an appearance in Journey Into Mystery/Thor #109 (Oct. 1964).
Scarlet Witch Brother of Evil Mutants
Wanda in  X-Men  4, 5, 6, 7 and 11;
plus Strange Tales 128 (Torch-Thing story)

As many Marvelites also know, Wanda and Pietro left Magneto's Brotherhood in X-Men #11 and immediately showed up in that same month's (in terms of release/publication date) Avengers comic, the famous Avengers #16. In both X-Men #11 and on the cover of Avengers #16 the base color of Wanda's hair is still brown. But inside #16 it's a different story, as we'll see next time in the Scarlet Witch Hair Color Chronicles - Part 2!
Avengers 16-Captain AmericaKooky Quartet
Avengers #16. 
Like X-Men #11, it's cover dated May 1965



Avengers 16-Scarlet Witch
The brown-haired Wanda
on the Avengers #16 cover

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Medusa Effect...and the Prime of Ms. Jean Grey

We all know that Barry Windsor-Smith's early Marvel work was undeniably Kirbyesque, but here's more evidence that Marvel Girl aka Jean Grey was a Medusa manquée! ;)

Fantastic Four Annual 5-Medusa-Inhumans
1967 Fantastic Four Annual #5 Kirby
XMen53-Rageof Blastaar-ArnoldDrake-Smith
1969 X-Men #53 Barry Smith (Windsor-Smith) 
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