WandaVision — Episode 3, “Now in Color,” dropped January 22, 2021 — was a major turning point in the show. We went from a light-hearted sitcom style episode to a full-on MCU scene towards the end which changed the style of the show in future episodes. Despite this dramatic shift, the references from the comics were still very prevalent in the episode. To start off, Wanda and Vision’s conversation with the doctor about the pregnancy is a reference to the comics when Wanda and Vision spent a majority of their comic series, Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1985), by Steve Englehart, discussing the pregnancy. Wanda would talk to Vision about all the changes her body is going through, all the kicks she felt, and anything that had to do with the pregnancy.
Later on, Wanda and Vision’s debate about the name of the twins is a call back to that same comic series in which Wanda and Vision decide on the names of their children. In Vision and the Scarlet Witch #12, however, they name the babies after they are born, not beforehand. Even the names themselves, Billy and Tommy, are accurate to the comics!
The commercial this week was Hydra Soak. A blue soap in a square box which is a nod to the cosmic cube from the earlier movies of the MCU. In addition, it calls to mind Wanda’s origins with Hydra in Age of Ultron (2015). However, for all of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans, they can recall Coulson discussing a blue Hydra soap that was used to brainwash people (“Identity and Change,” Season 4, Ep. 17, aired 11 April 2017). Could this be a nod to that same soap and possibly a future hint of the two worlds colliding? Only time will tell.
When Wanda is giving birth, she first has Tommy and does not know that there is a second boy on the way. This is directly referencing the comics where Wanda gives birth to Tommy first and Doctor Strange doesn’t realize that another baby is coming because he doesn’t show up in the ultrasound.
In this episode, Wanda experiences all the stages of her pregnancy in one episode. The Vision and the Scarlet Witch comic series was dedicated to having Wanda experience each stage of pregnancy month after month. This serial-format is where the comic medium has a special aspect that allows you to live with the characters in real time and be able to experience their life at the same time as yours. It allows you to develop a connection with the characters. Had you been reading this comic as it came out, you would have had to wait an entire year to see Wanda have the twins. It’s a fun experience to be able to connect with the comics in that way which is something that television shows and movies lack.
We are back with a load of comic references from WandaVision — Ep. 2, “Don’t Touch that Dial,” dropped on January 15, 2021 — that are just peachy keen! In the opening theme for the show, Vision is depicted in cartoon form getting ready for work. As he phases from the closet down to the fitting room, a helmet can be spotted in the structure of the house. The helmet is that of the Grim Reaper, a comic book character who has a connection to Vision in the form of his brother, Simon Williams. Simon Williams, also known as Wonder Man, is a superhero capable of harnessing ionic energy. His brain patterns were put into a gem which was used to power up the Vision and give him a conscience. This led Vision to see himself as the twin brother of Simon, which Simon embraced happily. This news did not settle well with the Grim Reaper who seeks to kill the Vision throughout the comics.
In that same opening scene, we see Wanda grocery shopping with Geraldine (Monica Rambeau) in the background. On the ceiling of the store are several advertisement signs which each have a reference to the comics. Starting on the left, a cereal called Wonder Oats can be seen which is a reference to Wonder Man, the Vision’s twin brother. Next to that, there is an ad for Bova Milk. In the comics, the High Evolutionary is a scientist who experimented on humans and turned them into animals. Some of his test subjects included Bova, Wanda, and Pietro. Bova was turned into a cow and he considered this test successful. However, Wanda and Pietro showed no physical signs of change so he gave them back to their family. In addition to their connection as subjects of the High Evolutionary, Wanda and Bova share a connection in that Bova was Wanda and Pietro’s nanny when they were babies. Their mother, afraid of what Magneto would do to the children, gave Bova the twins to take care of and protect. The third ad houses a special nod to the comics. Auntie A’s kitty litter is a direct nod to Agatha Harkness and her cat, Ebony. In the comics, Agatha has a pet cat, not a bunny, who has special powers of growing into a large panther.
At the very end of the opening theme, when Wanda and Vision are sitting on the couch, a figurine can be seen on the table next to Wanda. The figurine has a W on his chest and wings on his head which is a nod to the Whizzer in Marvel comics. The Whizzer, also known as Robert Frank, is a hero who has super speed and was thought to be Wanda and Pietro’s father. For the longest time, Wanda and Pitero were known as the Frank twins until the truth was revealed and Magneto told them that he was their real father and that they were the Maximoff twins, not the Franks.
When Vision is practicing his magic act, the Cabinet of Mysteries that Wanda rolls out has the shape of the mind stone on it. This is a reference to the source of power and connection for both those characters. However, the rays that are coming off the stone also symbolize the fate of the stone and Vision in Infinity War when Wanda and to destroy the stone. Not only is this a magical easter egg, but the names Glamour and Illusion that Wanda and Vision use for their stage names have a deeper roots in the comics. Glamour and Illusion are Wanda and Vision’s neighbors in the comic series Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1985) by Steve Englehart. They are a super-powered couple who uses their abilities to put on magic acts for a living. However, their deeper secret, which they keep from Wanda and Vision, is that their magic act is front to steal jewels.
When Wanda is walking from the kitchen to the living room to fluff the pillows, a mural can be seen on her left of the Hydra castle in Sokovia. That reference symbolizes the first movie in which Wanda had a role in the MCU as well as the first location she is seen in the opening of the movie. This castle is also where Ultron built his army before attacking the Avengers in Sokovia. Later in this scene, Wanda hears the SWORD helicopter crash outside. The helicopter also has an easter egg, the number 57, which is a direct reference to Avengers #57 (1968) by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, the first appearance of the Vision! As Agatha startles Wanda out of her helicopter confusion, we see Agatha carrying her pet rabbit, Señor Scratchy. The name is a nod to Agatha’s son in the comics, Nicholas Scratch, who is also a magic user like his mother.
The commercial for this episode is for the Strücker Watch. This references the person who gave Wanda and Pitero their abilities in the MCU by conducting the mind stone experiments on the twins. Furthermore, it symbolizes Maximoff’s brief time working for Hydra to get revenge on Tony Stark.
At the very end of the episode we see Wanda saying, “No” to reverse the tape and get rid of the Beekeeper (a.k.a. Agent Franklin). This line is a nod to House of M #7 (2005) by Brian Michael Bendis where Wanda says “No more mutants” to get rid of 90 percent of the mutant population.
The theme of this episode and most of the show is Wanda and Vision trying to fit into their neighborhood and be seen as normal. This is a prevalent theme in the comic series Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1985) by Steve Englehart as well as The Vision (2015) by Tom King. It brings in a new adaptation of an existing struggle within these characters which shows that even though the days and years progress, some struggles are persistent.
A re-watching of WandaVision is richly rewarded since Marvel is known to bury clues and Easter eggs for fans of the MCU and of the comics to find and enjoy. And this enjoyment kicks in at the very start of Episode 1, in 1950s sitcom land where Wanda and Vision are living blissfully in Westview. Episode 1’s opening theme shows Wanda and Vision driving in their car as a newlywed couple. This shot is similar to a panel in the comics in which Wanda and Vision are driving to get to their new home. Later in the episode, we meet Agnes, Wanda’s neighbor whom any reader of the comics knows to be Agatha Harkness. Agnes/Agatha can be seen giving Wanda a plant as a housewarming gift which is a direct nod to Tom King’s The Vision #7 (2015) where Agatha gives Wanda and Vision a magical plant as a gift which allows a person to see into the future. Not only is the plant a nod to the comics, but so is the brooch which she can be seen wearing. Later on, as Agnes and Wanda are planning Wanda’s anniversary, the phone rings and Wanda answers, “Vision residence.” This is a reference to Tom King’s The Vision where Vision’s mailbox reads, “The Vision” symbolizing that the family has taken on his name rather than the Maximoff last name. If Wanda had taken Vision’s last name in the show, she would be Wanda Vision, which is why the title of the show is so creative.
The first commercial in WandaVision Ep. 1 advertises the Toast-Mate 2000 by Stark Industries. This commercial has so much significance to unpack. First off, it represents the missile that destroyed Wanda and Pietro’s childhood home as seen later in the show. Second, it is part of the six commercials which can be compared to the infinity stones due to their nature, which would make this commercial the mind stone. The reason for that is because that event led Wanda to go to Hydra and get in touch with the mind stone. Finally, it is a nod to the comics where Wanda calls Vision a toaster after getting into an argument with him in Tom King’s The Vision #7.
During the dinner party scene, which itself is a nod to the Vision and the Scarlet Witch #6 by Steve Englehart (1986) where the couple host a Thanksgiving dinner, Vision is called dense by his boss as a way of referencing Vision’s ability to alter his density. Furthermore, Wanda calls Vision a meat tenderizer and hands him the tenderizer which looks like Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, referencing Vision’s ability to lift the hammer. The label of the wine bottle reads Maison du Mepris which translates to House of Misery in french and is a reference to House of M by Brian Michael Bendis (2005), a comic where Scarlet Witch loses her mind and creates an alternative reality where everyone gets what they want. This show is heavily based on that comic. Mr. Hart tells Vision that there is chaos in his household because everything is going wrong and that is a nod to Wanda’s powers in the comics, called chaos magic, that allow her to make this alternate reality. Towards the very end we see a hexagonal shape which references the shape of the town Wanda has controlled as well as the name of her powers in the comics, called hexes.
Image of Scarlet Witch from Google Images
Vision and the Scarlet Witch #6 (1986) by Steve Englehart
Having knowledge of the comics allows the viewer to have a sense of connection with the show. It helps provide the viewer a better understanding of the characters as well as the plot. They understand more of what is going on in the show and do not have as many questions as a viewer who has no knowledge of the comics. Furthermore, it provides this rush of excitement to see something on screen that you have read about in the comics. You feel more experienced than the average viewer and can start to understand the direction of the show before anyone can guess it. Finally, it helps you develop a greater appreciation for both the comics and the show because of the way their elements have been incorporated.
Written by Luke Heine SDSU History Major / Honors College, 2021
Images are everywhere: street signs, safety warnings, and of course, comic books. Many early forms of writing were pictorial in nature, from Egyptian hieroglyphics to ancient Chinese characters. What’s more, images have a unique and powerful ability to communicate in a way that is nearly universal. It’s clear that graphic media have been, and continue to be, central to how ideas are conveyed. But sit down, and think for a moment – name five works of fiction of high prestige. For written works, it’s easy: The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, Crime and Punishment, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men… the list could go on and on. Many of these you’ve doubtless read in English class, or in an institute of higher learning. But can you say the same about comic books? For your average person, the answer is likely no, but as I mentioned earlier, images are everywhere, and integral to the human experience. So why is this the case?
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Scout McCloud, hosted by SDSU’s Arts and Culture Club. For those of you unfamiliar with McCloud, he is a comics artist, writer, and theorist best known for Understanding Comics (1993), Reinventing Comics (2000), and Making Comics (2006). According to McCloud, every picture says something, yet academia and society at large generally haven’t trusted graphic forms of communication. Picture books, comic books, and the like are often labeled children’s media, and thus shut off from the prestige of their textual counterparts. In McCloud’s words, “at a certain point, we learn words have a multiplicity of uses, but leave art alone as impractical.” Now to those of you who do not number among the ranks of comics enthusiasts, it’s pretty easy to simply say “so what?” Well, according to McCloud, our perception of the prestige of graphic media is quite a big deal.
Let’s start simple, with a common form of graphic communication you’ve doubtless seen before: safety warnings. In his presentation, McCloud referenced the following image:
Image from http://www.scottmccloud.com/talkimages/
Text aside (which has its own slew of issues), you’d be hard pressed to decipher the meaning of the image without prior knowledge that you shouldn’t use elevators during a fire. While this example might seem funny, when one considers what its purpose is – saving lives in the event of a fire – it’s a little harder to laugh at the jumbled mess above. To prove this isn’t an isolated incident, McCloud provides more examples, such as this pregnant woman broadcasting wifi:
Image from http://www.scottmccloud.com/talkimages/
Or whatever horrors this sign hopes to warn against:
Image from http://www.scottmccloud.com/talkimages/
McCloud’s message is clear: “bad visual communication is inevitable in society which does not value pictures.” It leads to safety signs which fail at their life-saving purpose, allows advertisers to exploit those unaware of an image’s power, and devalues an entire medium that is fundamentally powerful. So the next time you pick up a comic book over one of the masterworks of literary canon, don’t be ashamed; a picture can go a long way, and we could all stand to appreciate the power of the image a bit more.