Love WandaVision? Read These Graphic Novels

Scarlet Witch has been a favorite character of mine since childhood. I’m sure there is still a late 90s era Scarlet Witch action figure at my parent’s house somewhere, in all her red and pink spandex glory. Disney+ recently launched a new streaming series all about Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and her love Vision, entitled WandaVision. The show is an entertaining blend of era-specific sitcoms, think I Love Lucy, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, etc., shrouded in mystery and ominous tones reminiscent of the best of The Twilight Zone.

Not since Game of Thrones (RIP Dany- you will always be my Queen) has a television show inspired me to read weekly AV Club articles, peruse the internet for other fan’s theories and predictions, and talk at length with friends about episodes. It is so much fun.

If you’re enjoying the show, but not well-versed in the comics history of this stellar character, I would highly recommend reading one or all of the graphic novels below! They are collected volumes of some of Wanda and Vision’s best story arcs and would serve as a great introduction to these two. Conversely, if you are an established fan like myself, re-reading these might give you a greater appreciation of the show, in addition to fuel for your plot theories. *wink wink*

The Vision: Little Worse Than a Man by Tom King

The Vision wants to be human and in this Eisner award winning series he decides that family is about as human as it gets. So he heads back to the beginning, to the laboratory where Ultron created him and molded him into a weapon. The place where he first rebelled against his given destiny and imagined that he could be more -that he could be a man. There, he builds them. A wife, Virginia. Two teenage twins, Viv and Vin. They look like him. They have his powers. They share his grandest ambition (or is that obsession?) the unrelenting need to be ordinary. What could go wrong?

Avengers: Vision and the Scarlet Witch- A Year in the Life by Steve Englehart

In a world full of heroes, villains, and monsters, there are few stranger phenomenons than the marriage of a mutant witch to a heroic synthozoid! As this unlikely couple settles into their home in Leonia, New Jersey, they find themselves at odds with the members of their complex families, including Ultron, the Grim Reaper, Quicksilver, and Magneto. When Wanda uses the power of a village of witches to make herself pregnant, the happy twosome becomes a happy foursome when twin sons William and Thomas are born, the future Wiccan and Speed of the Young Avengers!

House of M by Brian Michael Bendis

I read this story arc years ago but want to revisit it thanks to WandaVision and some sly Easter eggs that seem to point to this potentially being important to the show’s mysterious plot. In 2005, Bendis and Coipel created the world of the House of M storyline. This was one of the many times that Scarlet Witch changed reality with her powers. The Avengers are trying to determine what to do with Wanda, with some believing they need to kill her. Wanda creates a new world known as the House of M- she said “no more mutants,” and 98% of the world’s mutants instantly lost their powers. Oops?!

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade by Allan Heinberg

Another story arc I read years ago, The Children’s Crusade picks up following Wanda’s actions in House of M. Wanda has disappeared. While some knew where she was, the world soon learned that Wanda was still alive and well, and that sent the Avengers to find her and the X-Men to try and possibly kill her. Eventually, they take her back into the fold of the Avengers and the X-Men are held off for now.

Scarlet Witch: Witches’ Road by James Robinson, Vanesa Del Rey, Jordie Bellaire & Cory Petit

This is the first collected volume of this great series from some of my favorite writers and artists, like Jordie Bellaire (check out her Buffy reboot! SO GOOD.). Witchcraft is broken – and Wanda is on a journey across the globe to fix it. From the back alleys of Manhattan to the serene Greek Isles to the Irish countryside, the former Avenger will face myths and legends from ancient lore, cure curses, and discover there’s is even more to her complex family history than she knew. In Spain she will visit a church where witches like her were once burned at the stake – and be haunted by the ghosts of the Spanish Inquisition!

All the titles above are available via Hoopla or through our catalog! Are you watching WandaVision? Do you have a favorite Scarlet Witch or Vision comic? Share in the comments! Happy reading !

Frozen II

Frozen was a bit of a shock when it came out in 2014. It was the second film from a new group within Disney Studios following Wreck-It Ralph. Pixar was better associated with the hits coming from the Disney company at the time, but with Frozen they really solidified themselves. I’ve personally enjoyed this studio more than Pixar in the years since. So, while I wasn’t highly motivated to see Frozen II, I wanted to see what the studio had planned this time.

We start once again with the childhood of Elsa (Eva Bella) and Anna (Livvy Stubenrauch) as their parents tell them about an enchanted forest their father King Agnarr (Alfred Molina) had visited when he was a child. Agnarr had gone there with his father King Runeard (Jeremy Sisto) and inexplicably a battle broke out causing Runeard to be lost and Agnarr was injured only to be saved by a native. Agnarr made it out, but the four elements were mad and sealed the forest off with a wall of fog not letting anyone in or out since. We then are taken to the present where adult Anna (Kristen Bell) is talking to Olaf (Josh Gad) about things that will and will not change. Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and Sven the reindeer arrive into town and Kristoff reveals he intends to propose to Anna.

The main characters come together with adult Elsa (Idina Menzel) for charades. As Elsa gets her clue, she hears a voice singing to her. She stops as she listens to it. Later she goes on to chase the sound of this voice trying to make sense of this. She casts her ice magic as she approaches the water when suddenly she seems to form crystals in the air all around Arendelle. Abruptly; the fires in the town go out, a huge wind starts blowing people out, and the ground shifts causing everyone to evacuate. The trolls find Elsa, and Pabbie (Ciarán Hinds) warns that Elsa must go to the enchanted forest and solve the unrest of the elementals.

Frozen II helps to expand a world many have been waiting for. There are plenty of musical numbers, with the main cast each getting a new song. Seeing the last film would certainly help to understand the characters, though they do briefly recap the last movie in a comedic fashion. Overall, it’s a good family adventure and musical. I was surprised by one of the songs that I really thought had a strong message to it. I do think this was a good edition of what will likely continue to be a series. Rated PG.

Ryan

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Disney’s live action remakes are much more common now, but the first Maleficent was an experiment in this area. The film explored an alternate perspective from the original story that portrayed Maleficent in a more sympathetic light. The original movie was a tale of betrayal and learning to love again. I honestly didn’t want to see this be about personal relationships with the same light-hearted tone or very dark and dramatic. This movie delivers an original story full of adventure and intrigue. To me, the trailers undersold what they were doing in this film.

The film starts out in the night. We see three humans in the moors (the fairy sanctuary and Maleficent and Aurora’s home), they are there to abduct some creatures and sell them for profit. We see the horned Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) approach them and capture 2 of the intruders. The third human grabs a mushroom creature and escapes back to the kingdom to deliver the creature to the base of the tower. We then see the next morning where Aurora (Ellie Fanning) is holding her royal court. Some of the fairies steal her crown and lead her to a tree where Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) is waiting.

Philip proposes to Aurora, and she accepts. Diaval (Sam Riley) reports this to Maleficent and she storms off to confront Aurora. Maleficent at first doesn’t accept this idea of marriage, but she eventually goes so far as to agree to meet Philip’s parents at a dinner. King John (Robert Lindsay) seems excited for Philip but Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) doesn’t seem happy at the prospect. Maleficent gets in an argument with Queen Ingrith at dinner and gets ready to leave, flourishing her wings. Suddenly, King John falls into a deep sleep, and Maleficent flees only to be shot down. A large figure with wings dives into the water and retrieves wounded Maleficent.

I think the advertising campaign did a poor job describing even the early conflict, so I tried to go a bit further. This movie has three main ideas taking place: the fairy abductions, the struggle of Aurora between her home with the fairies and the human lifestyle, and Maleficent coming to terms with whether fairies can live in peace with human. If it were one or two of these story lines it may feel too simple, but all-together they stand as a stronger narrative. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a high fantasy adventure movie that really improves on the series. The special effects, costume design, and general creativity makes this a great experience to me. Rated PG

Ryan

Aladdin (2019)

Will Smith, Alan Tudyk, Navid Negahban, Marwan Kenzari, Naomi Scott, and Mena Massoud in Aladdin (2019)

            Disney live action remakes in recent years have been hit or miss to most audiences. I’ve personally enjoyed Cinderella, Maleficent, and Alice in Wonderland, so I do find them entertaining at times. Then there are movies like Dumbo and Beauty and the Beast where I just don’t feel engaged. With the trailer of Will Smith as Genie, many were nervous about the CGI. People were also hesitant about Smith playing a role designed around Robin Williams. While the movie has definite differences, I found Aladdin highly enjoyable.

            The movie starts off with Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) trying to find someone who can enter the Cave of Wonders (a giant animated tiger head made of sand) without the cave collapsing on the one attempting to enter. We then go to Aladdin (Mena Massoud) making his way around the village with some parkour (a form of rapidly moving through the environment). He unknowingly runs into a disguised Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) who gave two girls some bread without paying. Aladdin tricks the baker into letting Jasmine go and they kick off a daring escape number with the song One Jump Ahead. It’s a fun scene that sets off the movie well.

            Jasmine angrily leaves Aladdin after learning that her bracelet was taken by Abu (Aladdin’s pet monkey). We learn Abu took it out of habit. Aladdin and Abu break into the palace to return the bracelet. They make it to Jasmine and her handmaiden Dalia (Nasim Pedrad). Jasmine is grateful for Aladdin returning the bracelet and he “steals” a hair pin promising to return it to her later. As Aladdin leaves the palace he gets caught by Jafar and some guards. Aladdin wakes up in the dessert sitting next to Jafar. He asks Aladdin to go into the Cave of Wonders and get only an oil lamp. Aladdin does so but a few other things happen, and he ends up trapped in the cave with Genie (Will Smith).

            This movie is joyful. It’s like a Broadway show brought to life. The dance numbers are tremendous. They’ve added, removed and changed things from the original movie; some of which I liked and others not so much. Jasmine’s character is much more developed and her solo song Speechless helps to deliver a strong message. If you don’t expect the animated Aladdin, I think you’ll have a great time. There was about 20 minutes where I noticed I was just smiling during the movie. Rated PG.

Ryan

Introduction

Hello Everybody,

            My name is Ryan and I see a lot of movies. So, I thought I’d try to share my experiences with them. I find that movies are a very good social experience that are fun to watch with someone and talk with people about later. I make it a point to try to see a movie if it sounds interesting or has high enough reviews. Sometimes a small tidbit of information can be the difference between seeing a movie or not for me.

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Wreck-It Ralph was a 2012 film that had Ralph (played by
John C. Reilly) a character from a video game struggling with the fact that he was a villain in his game. He goes on a journey to prove he’s a hero and ends up becoming friends with a girl called Vanellope (played by Sarah Silverman). After the events of that story, Ralph Breaks the Internet continues their story with Vanellope bored with her routine. Ralph tries to help her by making a new track one day and the player trying to steer the game ends up breaking the arcade game. When it seems like the game will be unplugged forever, they hear about the internet and a place where they can buy a replacement part.

The characters venture into the recently setup wifi at the arcade into the internet. They journey into the internet where they win a bidding war for their part and soon realize they need to earn money for it. They try a few ways to do so including trying to sell Shank’s car from another video game. Venellope becomes friends with Shank (played by Gal Gadot) as Shank’s racing game is much more intense than Vanellope’s. Ralph and Vanellope move on to try to use ad revenue from videos with the help of Yesss (played by Taraji P. Henson). Ralph starts making money to save the game. While advertising these videos, Vanellope even bumps into the Disney princesses at the Disney sight, with many of them voiced by their original voice actors.

Overall Ralph Breaks the Internet is cute and funny. Some parts could have gotten boring easily, but the movie keeps moving to prevent that. The movie mostly focuses on Vanellope’s journey of still feeling a bit out of place but also wanting more out of life. Ralph struggles with the idea of his friend moving onto bigger and better things. I think many people deal with this be it with family or friends. It’s really a fun movie that stays upbeat at most points. Good for watching with a family. Rated PG

By Ryan