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The Warbird and the Witch: Carol/Wanda (Free Month)

The Warbird and the Witch

Pairing: Carol Danvers/Wanda Maximoff
Fandom: The Avengers (Marvel Comics)
Warnings: This manifesto is heavy on scans, so dial-up users beware. It also briefly discusses the storyline in which Carol was raped, so please read with discretion.
Author's Note: In the last year or so, this pairing has gone from being a blip on my radar while reading Avengers comics to being my femslash OTP. This is my desperate bid to sway others to this pairing. Hope it works!




As a multishipper, I've supported many, many ships during my time in fandom. Carol/Wanda is the only ship where I've been asked why I ship them. I can understand why some comic fans don't see it; it's not an obvious pairing.

Despite the fact that Carol and Wanda met in a comic in 1978 and have served together on the Avengers off and on until 2004, they don't have many shippy moments. In those decades together, the reader was often told that Carol and Wanda were friends, but it wasn't often shown. Even when they are on the same team, they can go several issues without interacting. In fact, it is when things start going to hell in a hand basket that we see the strongest evidence of their feelings for each other.

It's not a pairing that's easily summed up, which is why I'm doing this manifesto. The only way to explain my complete love for Carol/Wanda is to show you how the few moments of tenderness and happiness between them - added to the deep devastation they are capable of causing each other - creates a picture of a gorgeous, tragic friendship that is mostly hidden off-panel.

So, who are these characters?

Wanda Maximoff
AKA The Scarlet Witch


Wanda is the daughter of Magneto, although she and her twin brother Pietro didn't know that the infamous mutant was their father for a very long time. Their mother Magda had hidden her pregnancy and fled from Magneto after she saw him use his powers to harm others. She took refuge on Mount Wundagore in the fictitious East European country of Transia, where the High Evolutionary gave her sanctuary. Unfortunately, Mount Wundagore was also the prison for the evil Elder God Chthon, and he influenced Wanda's mutant powers when she was born so that later he could posses her. Magda died not long after birth, and Wanda and Pietro were adopted and raised by a local Transian gypsy family.

Their childhood was happy, until a series of events caused them to believe that their adoptive parents were dead. They fled. Out in the world, they found that they were feared and hated for their strange powers - Pietro could run faster than a bullet, and Wanda... well, caused accidents. When they ran into Magneto, he recognized them as mutants and took them in. There Wanda learned to control her powers. She could create 'hex spheres' which basically affected the probability of something happening. Early on she mostly used this to jam weapons or cause things to fall onto her opponents. After run-ins with the X-Men, Wanda and Pietro left Magneto and reformed, joining the Avengers shortly after.

At first Wanda was a very passive character who was willing to let Pietro make the decisions for both of them. After some time on the Avengers, she started asserting herself. She fell in love with the android Vision; Pietro didn't approve but she pursued a relationship with the Vision anyway. A powerful witch named Agatha Harkness recognized latent power in Wanda and gave her lessons in witchcraft. In addition to her hex spheres, Wanda could now wield chaos magic.

Carol Danvers
AKA Ms. Marvel, Binary, and Warbird


Carol joined the air force shortly after high school when her father refused to send her to college. As a feminist, she strove to prove she was just as capable as any man, and she became a top pilot and eventually the security chief at a military base. When she got caught in the middle of an alien battle, an explosion fused her genes with that of a Kree warrior, giving her superhuman abilities and, for a while, a split personality. After being discharged from the Air Force, Carol fell back on her talent for writing, and became the editor of Woman magazine, a subsection of the Daily Bugle, where she clashed with J. Jonah Jameson. It didn't help her career that at that point she was suffering from headaches and blackouts, caused by her Kree warrior personality taking over and battling super villains.

Eventually her two personalities meshed, and Carol became aware of her powers. Carol is a very strong-willed character who tends to act quickly and decisively.

Their History

The first time they meet is absolutely adorable. Carol is in pursuit of a sea-dwelling villain who has kidnapped Namorita, and she comes to Avengers mansion for help. Unfortunately, she barges through the doors without knocking, which is a bad move in the superhero business. The Beast mistakes this for an attack, and things devolve into a fisticuff until Wanda steps in.



It doesn't take long for Wanda to trust Carol.



Very soon, Wanda is bringing Carol coffee and chatting her up. I love the way she's looking at Carol the middle panel.



So for awhile Carol teams up with the Avengers if they happen to cross paths. She doesn't officially join the team until Wanda takes a leave of absence and Carol fills in for her. Wanda comes back, of course, but she and Carol have little on-panel interaction. All the same, it's evident that they get along. Their personalities are pretty different, but unlike say, Janet van Dyne and Carol, they don't clash. Well, they don't clash over little things.

Which brings me to one of the creepiest Avengers issues ever, in which Carol has every reason to clash with the whole team. It starts out well enough, with Wanda and Carol walking on the beach together, talking. Wanda is flying back to the East coast soon, and Carol offers to help her pack. Then Carol collapses. After an examination, a doctor tells her she is three months pregnant. Carol is very distraught, as apparently there is no possible way she could be. To make things worse, her pregnancy is progressing paranormally fast. Wanda does her best to comfort her.

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In days a child is born, and Carol is appropriately not in a mood to be congratulated. The other Avengers are written as jerks at this point, acting like they expect her to be happily cuddling her new kid. The kid is still growing super fast, and very soon he is a full grown man. His name is Marcus, and he explains that he was trapped in a pocket dimension. One day he saw Carol, fell in love, and abducted her. He seduced her with help from a mind-control device, and devised a way to escape his dimension by creating a faux-pregnancy in Carol. His escape is causing time and space to break down, though, and he decides to return to Limbo to save earth.

Unexpectedly, Carol tells Marcus that she will go back with him, and tells the present Avengers (Iron Man and Thor) that she hasn't felt as close to anyone in a long time. She asks Iron Man to say goodbye to the others for her, and Thor opens a portal for them.

The creepiest part, you might have noticed, is that this was written as a happy ending. Luckily, some readers noticed mind control does not equal a consentual relationship and protested. When another writer took the reigns, he wrote a story in which Carol comes back and confronts the Avengers for letting her leave even after learning that Marcus had used mind control on her. On the one hand, this means that Carol's rape is acknowledged as a rape; on the other hand, it cemented the previous issue in canon rather than somehow retcon it, meaning that the Avengers really did fail on an epic level.

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Wanda is hit hardest by the revelation of their failure.

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Carol joins the X-Men and then, after gaining new powers and renaming herself Binary, joins a crew of space pirates called the Starjammers. In different comic books, Wanda goes through her own turmoils as she tries to have children with her husband, the Vision, using a combination of technology and magic. Things do not go well; the twin boys she has apparently are part of Chthon, and Should Not Exist. They are eventually magically destroyed, devastating Wanda. For a while her memories of her children are magically erased to spare her the pain, but eventually she comes to terms with it.

Fast forward many years, and Carol and Wanda both get caught up in an adventure that affects nearly everyone who ever was an Avenger. After the dust settles, both women stay with the team. Both women are dealing with tough issues; Wanda has seperated from the Vision, and Carol has been losing her Binary powers. She changes her name to Warbird, a reference to her past as an Air Force pilot.

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Wanda is able to talk to Carol about her fears, but Carol worries that she'll be off the team if they know she's not as powerful anymore, so she keeps her issues a secret. She self-medicates her stress with alcohol, which doesn't go well. Eventually her drinking gets out of hand and she gets called before the Avengers for a court-martial. She sits before them stiff and angry as they vote on her Avengers status. Tears spill from her eyes when it's Wanda's turn to vote.

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A disaster interrupts the proceedings, however, and Carol quits before she can be forced off the team. Wanda is desolate as she watches her go.

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A letter was printed a few issues later that noted that it was 'ironic' that Wanda cried over Carol, but not over Vision or Simon, who were her two possible love interests, and who had also given her good reasons to cry.

Wanda is the only one to try to contact Carol. In the next issue, we see her calling Carol's mother, only to find out that Carol has moved to the west coast. Carol joins AA and with Tony Stark's help remains sober. After fighting alongside the Avengers for a few chance team-ups, she is asked to rejoin.

Around this time, the Vision - Wanda's ex-husband - asks Carol out on a date.

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Is it just me, or was Wanda going to suggest something really fun before the Vision interrupted?

After realizing how awkward this might be, the Vision asks Wanda if she is okay with this. Wanda admits that it will be strange for her, but says that she has no claim on him anymore and that she is okay with him dating Carol. Carol does go out on one date with the Vision, but things never progress from there. Although this could be played for jealousy and tension between Carol and Wanda, it isn't - in fact the two women are very respectful and even protective of each other's feelings. Wanda is dating Simon Williams, AKA Wonder Man, around this time, and is understandably upset when he goes off to do some soul searching. A newer member of the Avengers wants to know why everyone is walking on eggshells around Wanda, and Carol is the one to defend Wanda's mood.

Around this time, Kang the Conquerer declares war on Earth. To make matters worse, his son looks and sounds like Marcus, which visibly puts Carol on edge. Kang's attacks spread the Avengers thin, and Wanda and Carol are on different continents for most of this saga. Carol is leading a team that has been charged with taking down a villain who is using Kang's attack as an opening to assert his own control over North America. This villain is very powerful, and Carol finds that she cannot subdue him, and is forced to kill him. She is very pragmatic about this decision while the war with Kang wages on, but once it is over she reveals her guilt to the Avengers and asks to be tried. This issue is set up to mirror her earlier court martial, but this one ends very differently. The Avengers find that her use of deadly force was justified, and may have saved billions of lives. Carol is genuinely surprised by this.



Of course things don't stay quiet for long. Soon enough, Wanda is being possessed by the embodiment of Chaos, forcing Carol to battle her in their nightgowns.

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And not too long later, terrorists have unleashed a red, poisonous, cloud of death over Midwest America, and Carol is rescuing an injured Wanda from deep inside the contaminated zone. You'll have to take my word that that's Carol holding Wanda.

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As soon as Wanda's recovered, she and Carol team up to use magic to contain the deadly cloud. Of course, it's a process that essentially burns off all of Wanda's clothes and leaves her naked. Oddly enough, that's never happened when Wanda's using her magic around any other Avengers.

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After the mess is cleaned up and the terrorists are brought to justice, Carol is offered a security job by the President himself, and accepts. Not long after that, the Avengers are torn apart by one of their own in the Avengers Disassembled story line. The culprit? Wanda. Apparently her chaos magic doesn't really exist, and every spell she has cast has actually rebuilt reality with her mutant probability powers. This constant rewriting of reality has driven her mad, and she snaps when reminded of her children. She causes a series of disasters that destroy Avengers mansion and kills several Avengers, including the Vision.

Carol finds it offensive that anyone would even suggest that Wanda was capable of this.



When faced with hard evidence, though, Carol is enraged. When the Avengers come face to face with Wanda, Carol is the one to confront her.

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Months later, when the dust has settled, the Avengers meet in the ruins of the mansion. Time has not eased Carol's feelings. She declares that she hates Wanda, only to have Pietro reply, "My sister loved you."

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This has a profound effect on Carol, and later, when the Avengers are toasting their absent members, she is the one to toast Wanda.

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Eventually the Avengers are reformed under the name the New Avengers, but Carol isn't part of this team. She does get called to a meeting of the New Avengers and the X-Men, however, when it's discovered that Wanda is still a threat. The meeting is called to determine if Wanda is too dangerous to be left alive. When Pietro hears them discussing the possibility of killing Wanda, he goes to her and convinces her to use her powers to create a safe world for them. And thus begins House of M. The universe is re-created in a flash of light so that mutants are now the majority, and Magnus rules the world. In this world's history, mutants were rounded up in concentration camps and brutally tortured by humans. Faced with this, Xavier sided with Magneto, and the two of them were able to overthrow governments and incite mutants around the world to fight back. Xavier was killed, and Magneto assumed control over basically the whole world.

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Even though Wanda created this world based on her brother's wishes, she made herself human. She lives a very sheltered life in the shadows while her father, brother, and half-sister rule and protect her. Because her family despises most humans, there are very few humans she'd have any reason to interact with. Carol is an exception - although we don't actually see them interact in House of M, it is easy to imagine Carol (as one of the few humans Magnus respects) working with or befriending Wanda.

As it is, Carol regains her memories of the real world, and helps the X-Men and Avengers take down the House of M. Wanda realizes that the new world is just as flawed as the real world, and tearfully whispers, "No more mutants," reseting the world as it was before, except with a greatly decreased mutant population. Now she is living in Transia, apparently without powers or memories of her life as an Avenger. Only a few people know that she is still alive.

Carol, meanwhile, was greatly affected by her experience in House of M.

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She got her own solo title, where she strove to be 'the best of the best', adopted a cat, fought villains, made mistakes, and eventually found peace in being the best she could be.

Wanda is set to come back in a future series, and from sneak peaks at the artwork, it looks like Carol will be around for the adventure. I can only hope that she and Wanda can find a way to be friends again.

So Why Should I Ship Them?

First and foremost, I feel that they have personalities that go really well together. Where Carol is impulsive, Wanda is a bit more careful. Where Wanda might use introspection, Carol might take action. They aren't opposites, but they're different enough to complement each other. They will approach conflicts in different ways, which always makes for the best Marvel Team-Ups.

Then there's their history. Their friendship has been through things that would brake most friendships, and yet they still end up caring about each other and comforting each other.
And as much as I have mixed feelings over the Bad Things that have happened to Carol and Wanda, I'll admit that the obstacles they've faced give a fanfic writer a lot to work with. That blend of camaraderie and angst has done wonders for other pairings I've seen.

There's the issue of sexual orientation. Neither woman has had a canon female love interest, but Marvel is way below the ten percent mark with queer characters, so I feel I'm due some bisexual heroes. I also feel that there is some groundwork. Wanda married an android - a male android, yes, but that still shows a proclivity for love outside social norms. Carol, on the other hand, has never really had any defining male love interests. She's certainly had her share of boyfriends, but I feel her most interesting relationships are with women. Of course there's nothing inherently queer about that, but I like the fact that Carol has HoYay with several other characters besides Wanda (although I like it when it's with Wanda the most).

I guess I just like seeing them together.
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The Fandom

There are very few fanworks for Carol/Wanda, or at least very few that I've discovered.

When The Lights Go On Again by elspethdixon and seanchai is probably the premiere fic for Carol/Wanda. Aliens have invaded Earth and conquered New York City. The Avengers are in hiding and waging a desperate guerrilla war. This is a very long and plot-filled fic. Carol/Wanda isn't the main focus, but it certainly has a large role.

Backwards and in High Heels by elspethdixon and seanchai is set at an Avengers Halloween party. Wanda is dressed as a flapper and Carol is in a fedora! They dance together and have delicious sexual tension.

I Never by elspethdixon and seanchai is primarily Steve/Tony, but has a mention of Carol/Wanda. After a difficult battle with Kang, the Avengers play I Never to stay awake for their press conference. "Is it a rule that all the questions in this game have to be about sex?" Steve asked, knowing he probably sounded ridiculously plaintive.

C12H22O11 (Or, The Science of Candy) by schmevil is actually Wanda/Vision, but the focus is on Wanda and Carol's banter as they face the perils of taste-testing homemade candy. Homemade candy made by Tony Stark. This is a very fun story.

Knights of the Breakfast Table by otherhazards is primarily Steve/Tony but has some background Carol/Wanda.

melancholise made me beautiful Carol/Wanda art for the help_haiti fundraiser.

I have written two fics for the pairing, here and here.




Updated July 2013
The last three years have seen some big changes for both Carol and Wanda. Wanda has been firmly re-established in the Marvel Universe and is currently active on the X-Men/Avengers hybrid team in the series Uncanny Avengers. Carol has had her own solo title called Captain Marvel for about a year now. There hasn't been much Carol/Wanda interaction, but there was one moment of wonderfully extreme bittersweet slashiness.

In AvX (Avengers vs. X-Men) #0--which was sort of a prelude issue--Wanda has just recently come back and is not a part of a team. Carol and Jess Drew come across Wanda, alone, battling MODOC. The three women team up to take down the baddie, and afterwards Carol tries to invite Wanda back to the Avengers mansion.



This does not go well, however, and Carol ends up whisking Wanda away in her arms. Yes, she flies away from the mansion while holding Wanda bridal-style.



Unfortunately, the rest of AvX did not deliver any Carol/Wanda.

Fandom Update

More fic has been written!

Unravelling by [personal profile] snowynight is an action-packed story set in a cool Matrix-y AU. Carol and Wanda are two legendary leaders of the resistance against The Computer. They're trying to save the world and keep their relationship strong.

On the Slopes of Mount Wundagore by [personal profile] muccamukk is summarized as Or, Five Times Carol Searched for Wanda (And One Time She Found Her). It manages to be both a canon-compliant missing scene fic and a fix-it fic and fantastic Carol characterization to boot.

And by jazzypom:
The Palest Ink is about Carol finding Wanda's diary immediately post-Disassembled. The difference between what Carol wants to find and what's actually written is sweet and sad and sometimes ominous.

If It Takes A Thousand Years, in which Carol searches for Wanda. It's a perfect blend of past and present.

Better Than Before is set after Children's Crusade, but written while it was still ongoing. Wanda remembers, but is she the same?

First-Hand Account, in which Wanda describes Christmas in Wundagore to Carol.

The Cartography of Magic, in which Carol discovers Hank McCoy knows Wanda's whereabouts.

Longing, which beautifully describes how Wanda affects Carol.

Comments

*hugs back* Thank you so much! There totally needs to be more Wanda/Carol, but I'm happy just knowing that there are more fans of the pairing around!
I do have fun pimping my favorite pairings. Even the really popular ones, but it is more satisfying when it's a rare pair ;-)

I haven't read any Ororo/Jean, as I mostly stick to Avengers and haven't read much X-Men, but it sounds like a pairing I could get behind. I should read more X-Men; I get the feeling they have more femslash than the Avengers corner of Marvel fandom...
That's a really cute picture of them!

Edited at 2010-05-15 12:55 am (UTC)
You wrote it!

I'll have to come back tomorrow (or maybe later tonight) and read it. But first I need to finish up a pile of German book reports for school. *weeps* Nevertheless, I can say right away that I see some fine recs there.

And damn, now I'll really have to write mine too. :P
Yes, you must write yours! I'm very curious, actually, so I'm looking forward to it.

Good luck with your school work!
I'm hoping to get on it soon. I can't believe it's halfway through May already and there's only one free month post. :(

I swear, my teachers are trying to kill me. I keep finding out I have a test the day before. =.=
And I completely forgot to say that this is a great manifesto. I love the scans and you employed very persuasive arguments. :P
Thanks! Yeah, it's strange that there aren't more free posts this year. Hope to see yours soon!
Oh my gosh, this is so wonderful! I'm so happy a manifesto for this pairing exists. <3
Thank you! I'm very happy to see that there are other fans of the pairing ;-)
I've been a fan ever since that scene where Wanda is trying to comfort Carol and puts her hand on her shoulder. It just clicked for me right there.
That is a fantastic scene - I feel bad that some of the best Carol/Wanda interaction is wrapped up in creepy context. I actually didn't read that issue until late in my obsession with this pairing; it was Red Zone that did it for me. ;-)
Yeah, I do wish the scene had happened under less creeptastic circumstances. D:
niiiice work :D
Thanks! It was a lot of fun to put together!

(Anonymous)

okay this is a late comment but...thanks so much. i only knew about marvel comics from the movie adaptations, and so i just clicked on this manifesto out of curiosity; and i was completely hooked. i've spent the past month reading the entire avengers backlog and i'm almost at the present (i'm in the late 90s, shouldn't take me too much longer--thank god for summer break) and i love these two and quite a few other pairings. but mostly i want to thank you for introducing me to comics. this has been amazing. :)
Wow, I feel pretty amazed that I introduced someone to comics. I feel like maybe I should be apologizing to you. ;-) It's amazing that you've gotten through so much of the Avengers in a month! To be honest, there are large chunks of Avengers comics I haven't read, although I am working on it. But hey, it sounds like you're almost to Avengers volume 3, which started in 1998, I think, and which is some of my favorite Avengers storytelling ever. You've got some great stuff to look forward to!

Thanks for leaving such a wonderful comment!
Very late comment here but I wanted to congratulate you on such a well thought out pairing - whilst I admit that Carol and Wanda have had some great scenes together it never occured to me for example that with House of M she'd made Carol into such a respectable position despite most of her species being under threat - which of course in turn set up umpteen issues of her own comic series. So well done for writing this - it's greatly set out and you know the history of these two characters well!

I'm thinking of trying to write the rather more canon (at least when it's not being erased by Satan) Spider-Man and Mary Jane as a pairing manifesto down the road and was incidently wondering if you know what's the best place for scans from comics (since you used several yourself)?
Thanks for commenting! To be honest, it took me a while to get on board with Carol/Wanda. It had crossed my mind while reading Avengers: Red Zone, but it wasn't until I started reading the fanfic When The Lights Go On Again that I realized they made an awesome couple. I'm happy you liked this manifesto!

I really hope you write one for Peter/MJ! They are an awesome couple! I haven't read very much Spider-Man, but I loved their relationship in Spider-Man: The Other. I'm afraid I can't be much help regarding the scans, though - almost everything I used here I scanned myself from either my comic collection or comics I checked out from the library. The only exceptions are the scans from the Marcus storyline, which I found on [community profile] scans_daily. You might have some luck there..? It's not a site for posting whole issues, and there's very little organization, but perhaps you'll find some good Peter/MJ panels under the Char: Mary Jane Watson tag.
That's ok - haven't read Red Zone yet (it's hard enough keeping up with current Avengers activity without zipping back to the past) but I'll try and do so at some point. Disassembled was awesome (if pretty sad for all concerned) though. I think the weirdest pairing I ever came to loving was actually Carol with the Shocker, which I got from the awesome fanfic Polarity over on the Spider-Man Section on Fanfiction.net. It might sound weird but the circumstances which start to bring them together really work!

I'll be doing Peter/MJ down the line as I am busy writing a Doctor Who Manifesto for the end of the month (Fifth Doctor/Nyssa) - it's an interesting pairing given it being canon and yet ultimately attempted to been undone by those at Marvel who wanted to youthify Spidey, yet pretty much failing and making one of my favourite heroes agree to a deal with evil incarnate. Anyhoo I'll be looking at each of them, their longggggggg history together, Peter's other three great loves (Betty Brant, Gwen Stacy and Felica Hardy/Black Cat) and how these relate to the Pete/MJ pairing and the like. Oh, and probably some rantings about One More Day - can't quite escape that.

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