Who killed Wanda Maximoff (AKA the Scarlet Witch)? That's core question every X-Fan and Marvel comics' character is asking after the shocking events of X-Factor #10 (opens in new tab), leading into the current X-Men event The Trial of Magneto.
Spoilers ahead for Trial of Magneto #1 and 2.(opens in new tab)
And while the title 'Trial of Magneto' has clearly outlined who the publisher wants you to think is the primary suspect, we're not so quick to place the blame on Magneto and eliminate other suspects - especially after reading Trial of Magneto #1 (opens in new tab) and #2 (opens in new tab) - especially after Wanda has seemingly returned from the dead.
So with the first two issues on shelves and a ton of backstory on these characters going back decades, let's call in our proverbial line-up.
Magneto is the obvious suspect - but is he too obvious? Or is his guilt too obvious to the point they want you to dismiss Magneto as the killer only to reveal he actually did it?
Magneto is the last person readers saw with Wanda before her murder. And he openly confessed to Wanda's murder in a confrontation with the Avengers in Trial of Magneto #2. Sounds pretty open and shut, right?
But during the 'Hellfire Gala' scenes between Magneto and Scarlet Witch before her body was found, they seemed to be reconnecting, with Magneto offering an apology for his treatment of her, and stating he considers her his daughter, despite the High Evolutionary's revelations about her identity.
Magneto's desire to reconnect could arguably be seen as more for his own peace of mind than for hers, as he goes out of his way to make amends on the night of the Hellfire Gala, following his success in heading up the plan to turn Mars into Planet Arakko.
That being said, Prestige's reconstruction of Wanda's last moments in Trial of Magneto #1 finger someone with a white cape fleeing the scene - and of course, Magneto is known for busting out a white-themed version of his costume, complete with cape, from time to time.
But the manner in which Magneto confesses to the Avengers seems suspect. For one thing, Hope's psychic powers flaring up to get him to confront the Avengers in the first place is worth thinking further about, but also his motives in confessing to the Avengers but not the X-Men seems a distinct choice by Magneto.
Magneto's remorse and affection toward Wanda before she was murdered could all be a ploy, but why would Magneto put up the act when the only witness - the victim - would be murdered?
And what would Magneto gain from Wanda's death? That's unclear.
But if Magneto were to be convicted of Wanda's death in the Trial of Magneto, that would presumably force his removal from mutantkind's ruling Quiet Council, and possibly further punishment - remember, he would be convicted not just of murdering a human, but an Avenger. When Sabretooth was convicted of similar crimes, he was straight up banished to the bowels of Krakoa.
If such a fate were to befall Magneto, that chain of events would be something someone else might enjoy tremendously...
As we were asking in the Magneto entry, who would benefit most from the Scarlet Witch's death? While Mystique wouldn't directly benefit from the death as far as we know, she would benefit from Magneto being convicted of something so criminal as to be removed from power in Krakoa.
She's already been established in Trial of Magneto #1 as instigating some shade cast on Magneto's attempts to get Wanda resurrected by Krakoa's ruling body.
Remember, Mystique has been brooding these past years as her repeated requests to have her dead wife Destiny be resurrected by the Quiet Council (which Magneto is a part of), has been promised by Professor X and Magneto, who have tasked her with certain discreet missions for them by dangling the possibility of resurrecting Destiny as payment for a job well done.
However, through her successes and failures, Xavier and Magneto have consistently refused to bring Destiny back, due to her precognitive abilities and her former rivalry with Krakoa's secret third founder, Moira X.
In recent X-titles, Mystique has become pessimistic about these vague assurances paying off, and has been making plans bring Krakoa down in accordance with Destiny's final prediction - that if the creation of Krakoa as a mutant nation should ever come to pass, Mystique would force them to resurrect Destiny, or "burn the island to the ground."
"But isn't Mystique dealing with this over in the Inferno limited series?" you may be asking.
Yes, proverbial reader, she is… but there's every likelihood Inferno and The Trial of Magneto could crossover more directly than expected. After all, the 'Reign of X' creators have built a line around the interweaving of their stories, starting way back with the current line's kick-off in the concurrent series House of X and Powers of X.
The death of Scarlet Witch could be seen by Mystique as a destabilizing blow to the mutant governing body, especially if the prime suspect is someone (Magneto) best known as a villain already. For not only does it leave an open seat on the Quiet Council, but also puts Magneto in a corner - which, knowing his temper, isn't always the best idea.
Agatha Harkness was the big bad of Disney Plus' WandaVision, and a big part of that was her subterfuge and secrecy - she didn't even reveal herself until the third act. But she did (and it was great).
So could it be Agatha after all (or Agatha all along?) who is responsible for the death of Wanda Maximoff in comic books?
Agatha is alive and well after being resurrected by the spirit of Wanda's mother Natalya in 2017's Scarlet Witch #14, and recently popped up in Ta-Nehisi Coates' Captain America run of all places, training the all-female superhero team the Daughters of Liberty.
But that could all be prologue to a surprise 11th hour reveal of Agatha being behind Wanda's misfortune in comic books, just as she was in the MCU.
Wanda Maximoff and Victor Von Doom have a complicated past - student/teacher, amnesiac paramour/cruel husband-to-be, and now mortal enemies. In the upcoming Darkhold event, the two magic-users will be fighting over control of the dark magic tome the Darkhold - the very same book that ends up a macguffin in the finale of WandaVision (and presumably ties into the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness film).
But as Newsarama has learned, the Doom vs. Scarlet Witch Darkhold comic book series actually takes place in the past (due to its COVID-19 influenced delay no doubt). That's important, since… well... Wanda is dead now, apparently.
On the other hand, what if the Darkhold series isn't just in the past, but is a prelude to the current events? Doctor Doom survived the event apparently, enough to have a wedding in recent issues of the Fantastic Four, and to join the current Guardians of the Galaxy team. And at the same time, he made a brief appearance during the 'Hellfire Gala' - that's right, the same event where Wanda was found dead a few hours later.
Neither had the Darkhold during 'Hellfire Gala' as far as we could tell, but perhaps there's more to it than that. And if we're gonna give Marvel Comics enough credit to potentially misdirect and interweave the stories of Inferno and The Trial of Magneto, we've also got to consider whether idea that the events of Darkhold take place prior to Wanda's death has another possible twist coming in its timeline.
While The Trial of Magneto is a murder mystery about one Marvel character, could the culprit be another Marvel character whose murder everyone believes to have happened didn't?
Moira MacTaggert was shown to have died in 2001's X-titles following a fatal attack by Mystique. She died, was buried, and was even witnessed in the afterlife numerous times… but 2019's House of X that was revealed to have been a lie, with it only being a doppelganger who perished.
As it turns out, Moria MacTaggert is not just alive and well, she's a mutant with reincarnation abilities that have literally overwritten reality through Moira's many deaths and resurrections.
Moira's been keeping the truth of who she is and where she's been a secret from everyone except Professor X and Magneto. Why? To further a personal crusade to ensure the survival of mutantkind, no matter what the cost.
As part of her plan, she has encouraged Xavier and Magneto (under the authority of the Krakoan government) to deny the resurrection of any mutants with precognitive powers (like Mystique's aforementioned dead wife Destiny), as a run-in with Destiny in one of her previous lives led Moira to believe that precog mutants could interfere with her machinations.
While Destiny isn't on the level of Wanda, Wanda is a power in her own right - a Nexus Being, among other things. Between her witchcraft abilities, her reality-warping powers, and her potential possession of the Darkhold, she could figure out what Moira's up to. And Wanda definitely would have something to say about the future of mutantkind, given her past.
And that's exactly the kind of thing Moira could know from her previous nine lives, and could be seeking to prevent in her current, tenth incarnation. Considering the effect Moira's resurrections have had in actually rebooting aspects of the Marvel Universe reality, and Wanda's reality-warping powers, there could be a significant motive for Moira to murder the Scarlet Witch.
This one is more of a longshot, but the inclusion of Exodus in the periphery of 'Dawn of X' and 'Reign of X' is intriguing. Digging deeper, Exodus is one of the first people to call Wanda 'The Great Pretender' on Krakoa - specifically using the epithet in stories he told to mutant children to encourage the impressionable youngsters to shun her due to her questionable mutant/non-mutant status and her actions on M-Day.
Between that and being one of the most stringent followers of Magneto, Exodus could have seen the 'Hellfire Gala' interaction between Magneto and Wanda as the start of something he wanted to stop.
A group of mutants
The murder of Wanda Maximoff could also be more of an Orient Express type of affair, especially given the version of events that is shared among mutantkind by the likes of Exodus.
We don't have a particular group who is easy to peg as likely suspects, but there sure are a lot of easily influenced young mutants on Krakoa who have been in the background over the past three years, aren't there?
Wanda Maximoff, AKA The Scarlet Witch
Maybe it's finally time for Wanda Maximoff to be able to decide her own story - even if it means taking power through convincing the rest of the Marvel Universe she's dead.
After the crowning of the character as an MCU force in her own right earlier this year in WandaVision, could her murder simply be a set-up for something bigger?
This admittedly dark horse theory gained a little steam when Wanda showed up alive at the end of Trial of Magneto #2.
The upcoming Darkhold series is about Wanda and Doctor Doom vying for possession of the Darkhold tome. In the MCU she gets the cursed book - couldn't Marvel Comics follow?
If so, that still leaves the big question of why she'd fake her own death - but that'd be the kind of story you'd wait to tell for a bit, wouldn't you?
This all happens as we're seeing more and more clues that the deaths of Wanda Maximoff and Doctor Strange could all be connected.
We'll find out more together on October 20 in Trial of Magneto #3 (opens in new tab).
However it plays out, The Trial of Magneto is the latest in the case of Scarlet Witch being the victim and not the hero of stories about her. We explored Wanda Maximoff's strange agency (or lack thereof) recently.