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Avengers #503: Review

Dec 2004
Brian Michael Bendis, David Finch

Story Name:

Avengers Disassembled: Chaos (part 4 of 4)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #503 Review by (June 11, 2021)
Oliver Coipel pencils the 2 Scarlet Witch flashbacks. And the panels reprinted from her many previous apps are of course by diverse hands. It almost goes without saying that Albert Deschesne assisted Richard Starkings with the lettering.

This issue ends with a reprint of the relevant 3 pages from the original #16 as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch join the team.

The story behind Scarlet Witch's children is more complicated than presented here. Wanda did indeed wish herself pregnant (in the 2nd Vision & SW mini-series), but the twins were created from 2 of 5 missing fragments of Mephisto who had been shattered by Franklin Richards (Fantastic Four #277). Mephisto tricked Master Pandemonium into retrieving the fragments, and the boys were absorbed back into Mephisto in West Coast Avengers #52. It was then that Agatha Harkness erased them from Wanda's memory. But some later WCA issues showed her remembering the children, and a retcon backup tale in WCA Annual #7 explained that her personality problems in WCA#53-62 were partly due to the repressed memories so Agatha restored them. I don't think it was ever stated when the memories were removed again, but the flashbacks in this issue show that the Avengers knew that they were gone again until Wasp triggers them back.

At this point the Young Avengers haven't been invented, so we don't yet know that Billy Kaplan and Tommy Shepherd are 'reincarnations' of her twins, magically reborn earlier than the originals!

Scarlet Witch's previous power problems can refer to something as simple as her powers waning between original Av#30 and #37, or being lost entirely between #49 and #75. But they can also encompass the aforementioned WCA#53-62 where her powers increased and she turned bad (influenced by Immortus).

Av: Children's Crusade #7 will explain how Scarlet Witch's power became great enough to control reality here (and later in House Of M). It will tell us that Wanda sought sorcerous aid from Dr Doom. He channelled a source of great power into her but it overwhelmed her and drove her mad.

This contradicts Dr Strange's theory that it was her own magic that gradually unhinged her. His assertion that Chaos Magic doesn't exist is also refuted later in Mighty Av #21-23 where it is claimed that Chaos Magic used to exist but Earth's master mages got rid of it along with the Elder Demon Chthon. But then Chthon meddled with Wanda's birth.

Agatha Harkness will stay dead for some time. She'll feature as a ghost in the 2015 series of both Scarlet Witch and the Vision, and will be brought back to life in the penultimate issue of SW's series.

Magneto will take Scarlet Witch to Prof X on Genosha where they will try to cure her in the 2004 Excalibur series.  But the result will be Wanda remaking the world as she wants it to be in the House Of M event.

There are Avengers Disassembled tie-in runs in 6 series of 3 or 4 issues each which were published in parallel with this main 4, and 3 of them with 2 other issues labelled Prologue to Av Disassembled but only because they were published before the main run. All the tie-ins actually have little or nothing to do with this Avengers run itself. The Marvel Chronology Project only places the prologue and the main tie-in issues on opposite sides of Av#500-503 for Iron Man. Thor has all 6 issues before Av#500 and Spectacular Spider-Man's 6 issues all happen after #503. Captain America has his #29-32 split by the main event.

I've summarised the before tie-ins in #500. I'll do the afters now.
CA#30-32. Cap vs Red Skull with other extraneous baddies thrown in. And a Diamondback LMD.
(CA & Falcon #9 not in Disassembled. Cap now knows that it was Scarlet Witch messing with his mind in CA&F#5-7.)
IM#86-89. But Tony Stark still hasn't twigged that Wanda caused his apparent drunkenness at the UN in #500. An enemy in stolen IM armour kills the Stark Enterprises board and Rumiko Fujikawa. Stark gets round to resigning as Secretary Of Defence but also claims to resign as Iron Man. Someone else will use the armour in the Avengers.
Fantastic Four #517-519. Alien survivors of Galactus attacks have devised a way to hide other worlds from Galactus, but they want to kill Invisible Woman because she could unhide them. Mr Fantastic convinces them he's removed Sue's power, but he's really swapped it with Human Torch's. So then Big G pops up and takes Johnny as his Herald to expose the hidden worlds for him.
Spectacular Spider-Man #15-16 (Prologue). Queen (Adriana Soria) infects SM with a mutagenic enzyme, but Cap helps him escape.
SSM#17-20. The enzyme turns Spidey into a giant spider under Queen's control. But eventually the spider split open to reveal Peter Parker with enhanced spider-powers.

Beast, Captain America, Falcon, Iron Man, Warbird and Wonder Man will be back for the Av: Finale 1-shot set 3 months later. In the meantime the 1st 4 will be busy.
CA will be in CA4#30-32 above.
CA and Falcon will be in CA&FAL#9-14, continuing the story that's been running through that whole series.
IM then has IM#86-89 above.
Meanwhile Beast is off doing X-stuff with cameos in tales in X-Mrn Unlimited #6 and #7 and featuring in Nightcrawler #6.
CA and IM help Spider-Man out in Marvel Knights SM #11, and Cap hangs on for a cameo in #12 and stays for SSM#15-20 above.
CA and IM are there for She-Hulk in the last issue #12 of her current series./
And Beast continues X-ing in a Christmas story in XM #165 and a haunted house story in New X-Men #7-8.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #503 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Avengers have been attacked by dead Jack Of Hearts, 'possessed' Vision, 5 Ultrons, berserk She-Hulk and a Kree spacefleet. The Avengers casualty list is Ant-Man and Hawkeye dead, Vision destroyed, the new Captain Britain and Wasp on the critical list (with Yellowjacket watching over her), and She-Hulk in SHIELD custody. And Iron Man left when some of the team believed he'd got drunk before addressing the UN Assembly. Then Dr Strange arrived to tell them it was all a magic attack.

Now we'll find out what's really been going on.

It all begins with a flashback to Scarlet Witch and Wasp sunbathing beside the Avengers Mansion pool while Hawkeye practices his archery. Janet van Dyne and Clint Barton are having an affair and Jan confides in Wanda Maximoff that she recently thought she might be pregnant, which is *not* what she wants. She thinks superheroes shouldn't have kids, like when Wanda had twins. Jan immediately realises her mistake because Wanda's memories of her 'dead' boys have been buried to save her sanity, and she pretends to be drunk and makes a hurried exit. But Wanda starts to think.

In the present Captain America and Falcon are the only current Avengers still active but they are surrounded by a horde of ex-Avengers and friends as Dr Strange's astral body explains further. He claims to have just returned from prolonged meditation and then noticed the magic being used here. He has erected a cloaking spell so that whoever is doing this can't hear or see what's happening now. He can't detect who it was, but whoever it was had a great level mystic power to create this much chaos. Strange asks who *they* know who might fit this description. And Cap has a sinking feeling he knows.

Another flashback has weeping Wanda going to see her witch mentor Agatha Harkness to ask why anyone would think she once had 2 children. Agatha spills her cup of tea, then recovers herself and asks Wanda to sit down for a chat. But now angry Wanda demands to know where her children are.

Back in the present Steve Rogers has presumably aired his suspicions of Scarlet Witch. Most of the others can't believe it. But Nick Fury points out that she's Magneto's daughter and used to be in his mutant terrorist Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants. Spider-Man says he always found it strange she married the robot Vision, but Falcon slaps him down. It's Firestar who brings up what happened to her kids, which is news to DrS, and he *delivered* them. Beast and Warbird explain how Wanda unconsciously willed the twins into existence - they weren't real. Agatha Harkness worked it out and 'erased' them.

Stephen Strange is angry he wasn't consulted at the time. He's always known that Wanda's control over her magic was shaky. As a mutant she was born with her hex power, she never had to learn magic the hard way. Cap has to agree she'd had control problems in the past. DrS says he offered to take her as a student but she was always too busy as an Avenger. But her hex power wouldn't be capable of this. Warbird and Wonder Man tell him how she gained a new level of power called Chaos Magic. But they still can't believe she did this. Iron Man joins them all and says she was with him at the UN while much of this was happening. But Strange then stuns them all by telling them there's no such thing as Chaos Magic.

He then gives them his appraisal of her life (accompanied by reprints of panels from a variety of stages). An orphaned mutant with a violent past has a power to alter reality she didn't earn, doesn't understand and can't control. But every time she changes reality, albeit for noble reasons, her grasp on reality becomes blurred - and it becomes easier to change it again. It would take a strong person to cope with this if they had a calm life. But being an Avenger and daughter of Magneto is far from a calm existence. So she creates a piece of normality and happiness in the shape of children, but that all goes wrong. He asks them if they would wonder about the sanity of someone who had lived through all that.

The listeners are beginning to accept the possibility that the Doctor is right. Beast protests that Agatha made sure Wanda doesn't even remember her children. But someone suggests she may have remembered. Strange now says he can track the magic back to its source.

We see Scarlet Witch serving dinner to apparently Agatha Harkness, Vision, Wonder Man (Vision's 'brother' and another of Wanda's lovers) and 2 10-ish boys - her children. Then Cap walks in. The 2 boys start arguing - 1 says they should have killed *all* the Avengers but the other says Cap's 1 of the good guys. Steve reminds Wanda that they've grown close lately (eg in the CA & Falcon series), and tries to persuade her that this isn't real. But he suddenly finds himself confronted by Red Skull and Nazi soldiers. And a hail of bullets propel him and his shield out of the house.

SW follows him out, floating in midair, and we see all the other Avengers outside Agatha's Whisper Hill house. Warbird launches an attack but is stopped seemingly by Rogue (who once stole her powers and memories). And then loads of enemies attack. Scarlet Witch is above it all emanating magic until Dr Strange attacks *her*. But she's strong enough to match him, and sends his enemy Dormammu against him. However Strange uses the Eye Of Agamotto to show her the truth ...

... and the Witch falls from the sky to be caught by Cap. DrS declares her alive but her mind has gone. Nick Fury enters the house with some SHIELD Agents and they find Agatha Harkness' decayed corpse (sitting in a chair looking out of an upstairs window like Norman Bates' mother). Magneto arrives to take his daughter away (guided there by Charles Xavier). And the Avengers disperse.

David Finch
Danny Miki
Frank D'Armata
David Finch (Cover Penciler)
Danny Miki (Cover Inker)
Frank D'Armata (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Richard Starkings.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Joe Quesada.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank McCoy)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

(Sam Wilson)

(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Peter Parker)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Agatha Harkness, Firestar (Angel Jones), Warbird (Carol Danvers).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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