Marvel Kills Doctor Strange & Scarlet Witch, And Backtracks Immediately

Warning: contains spoilers for X-Men: The Trial Of Magneto #1 and Death of Doctor Strange #1!

Marvel has officially killed Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch - and within months, both characters have returned from the dead in a move that surprises even the most experienced and jaded of comic book readers. It's no secret that the pearly gates are more akin to a revolving door in comics, with characters actually remaining dead (like Spider-Man's Gwen Stacy) in incredibly short supply. The reoccurring resurrections recently hit their peak with the release of X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #2 and Death of Doctor Strange #1 - but within both issues, Marvel has hit upon a formula to make death interesting in comics, if not necessarily poignant.

In X-Factor #10, released in June, the X-Men find the dead body of the Scarlet Witch, located in the aftermath of the Hellfire Gala event. Wanda's death is seen as quite mysterious for many of the mutants on Krakoa; the Scarlet Witch is incredibly powerful and is not easily surprised. The mutants in charge of the resulting investigation conclude that Wanda must have been murdered by someone whom she trusted; further evidence of metal manipulation found at the scene of the crime point to Magneto being the culprit. But in X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #2, the X-Men are shocked when Wanda reappears, seemingly no worse for wear - and without any logical explanation.

Related: Doctor Strange Finally Explains What 'Sorcerer Supreme' Actually Means

"I'm really moved that you all came to help me," Wanda says to a stunned crowd of X-Men and Avengers. "But really, everything is all right. I just want to put all this behind me...and let things get back to normal." This surreal moment and Wanda's rather flippant dismissal of her own death can only be matched by a similar panel in Death of Doctor Strange #1. Upon finding Strange dead with a knife buried in his chest, his gathered friends (and even some enemies) are surprised when Doctor Strange reappears minutes after his own passing. It's a younger Strange from an earlier time in his life - but the laws of comic book death are still followed. Younger or no, it's still Doctor Strange reappearing, despite his dead body lying in front of him.

Not so long ago, the phenomenon of superheroes routinely returning from the dead wasn't nearly as widespread. When the Flash (Barry Allen) died in 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths, the death was meant to be permanent (Barry finally returned in 2008). Since then, any death of a major hero is treated as an extended vacation by the fandom, because their eventual return is nigh-inevitable. In the case of Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch, Marvel has apparently given up on convincing readers that these characters are truly dead. The main hook of these stories is the mystery surrounding the deaths, rather than the deaths themselves.

At the very least, this strategy is an effective method to drive the conversation away from the inevitability of a superhero's resurrection in comics. Killing two popular characters immediately before the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would seem an odd business move, to say the least. But Marvel clearly knows the fans will never believe that Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch are truly dead - and thus, by design, the stories don't convince readers in the slightest.

Next: Marvel's Most Powerful Being Will Never Make it to the MCU

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