This week's Avengers & X-Men: Axis #7 has reshaped the history of the Marvel Universe with just a few panels, but here's the crazy part: the change makes sense! (In its own weird way.)
First off, there are spoilers here for a few panels of the latest issue of Marvel's current crossover, but you knew that already, right? That said, these are the few panels everyone's going to be talking about.
This post isn't about the storyline that has inverted the good and evil alignment of a few dozen heroes and villains - turning the X-Men into genocidal maniacs, Deadpool into a Zen pacifist and Iron Man into a drunken egomaniac (uh... so... did he invert or...?).
No, this is about the revelation that Scarlet Witch had when she accessed some dark magics she'd never have accessed if she were in her right mind:
So why is this such a big deal? Because the implication here is that despite over 30 years of comics and other media that have described Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch as Magneto's children - that might all have been a lie!
Now, before anyone cries foul, understand that this isn't the first time this has happened.
When Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were first introduced in 1964's (Uncanny) X-Men #4, they were good-hearted siblings who nevertheless worked for the terrorist leader Magneto. As it turns out, old Mags had rescued the powerful twins and basically blackmailed them into working for him.
It was eventually revealed that they were raised by magically inclined, but basically good, Gypsies named Django (the "d" is not exactly silent) and Marya Maximoff. They were given to the couple by the High Evolutionary (more on him in a bit). This is why they have the last name "Maximoff," but it was the High Evolutionary that told them to keep the names Wanda and Pietro.
This was relevant in 1974's Giant-Size Avengers #1 when the Whizzer told the story of how he and his wife Miss America met a cow-woman named Bova on a mountain.
To get this out of the way, yes, the Whizzer is a silly name, especially for someone wearing a yellow costume (the chicken-looking bird on his head didn't help), but ignoring the fact that he got his powers from an injection of mongoose blood for a moment, the Whizzer and Miss America were two of the biggest pre-Marvel stars, just after the Marvel Comics mainstays of Captain America, Namor the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch. Think of them as Marvel's version of the Flash and Wonder Woman, respectively.
By the 1950s, they had married and retired from the superhero game. However, there were complications with their second pregnancy (their first was a-whole-nother disaster). Their search for help led them to Wundagore Mountain in Eastern Europe where they met Bova, an uplifted cow that serves as the preeminent midwife of the Marvel Universe. The Whizzer waited outside. After the birth, he was told his wife was dead but that he could still be a father to the successfully born twins - which were to be named Pietro and Wanda. He freaked out and ran as fast as he could (which was pretty damn fast).
The Avengers learned all this much later, as the Whizzer was trying to make amends with his other son, Nuklo. Whizzer died just after relating his tale to the Scarlet Witch. Now the twins had a new sense of identity. They weren't just former terrorists-turned-Avengers, they were the legacies of two of World War II's greatest heroes!
Ah, but then questions were raised. Bova - who was created by the aforementioned High Evolutionary - told a different story to Quicksilver. In 1979's Avengers #185-186, Bova said the Whizzer's child was stillborn, and that their true mother was another woman named Magda, whose babies the High Evolutionary had saved.
See, the High Evolutionary is often painted as a villain - and he's certainly not quite sane - but he is a scientist, first and foremost. He saw the potential in the children, but he knew he was not the proper parent for them, so he sought out a replacement. Who better than a retired superhero? But when the Whizzer ran out on them, he recruited a nearby couple instead.
Magneto didn't learn any of this until 1983's Vision & Scarlet Witch #4. It was then that Bova told him the story of Magda and the twins, convincing the Master of Magnetism that his estranged wife was the mother of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. He immediately flew to the Moon (dang, it's that easy?) and introduced himself to the family - now including Scarlet Witch's husband the Synthozoid Vision, Quicksilver's wife, the Inhuman Crystal, and their daughter Luna.
From here on out it was basically accepted that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were Magneto's kids. (It wasn't until later that they addressed Polaris also being Magneto's daughter, and for that matter, what happened to her mother.)
Now this revelation is out the window - but hold the phone, you might interject, who could trick so many people for so long into thinking they were Magneto's kids?
Here're some suspects that have the means, and possibly the motive.
The High Evolutionary seems like a likely suspect, as he was clearly involved with their birth and eventual adoption, and it was his servant Bova (whom he may have killed in the recent New Warriors series) that gave the information to all of the relevant parties. As a century-old geneticist and genius capable of creating living worlds and modern gods, he's certainly capable of altering Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's DNA to fool even the most advanced mutant detection equipment and superscience paternity tests into believing Magneto was their father. However, for all his vaunted science, he's no sorcerer, so he could not trick Scarlet Witch's current spellcasting.
The next suspect may not have been linked to their birth (yet), but he's certainly linked to their unhappiness. Immortus, the time-traveler formerly known as Kang, formerly known as Scarlet Centurion, formerly known as Rama-Tut, formerly known as Kid Immortus, formerly known as Iron Lad, has been one of the Avengers' enemies - and allies - since the very beginning. Sure, he's actively messed with the modern world more than once, but his ultimate goal seems to be a prosperous timeline for the universe. He sits at the end of time and messes with the past to fix what's broken. As far as Immortus is concerned, that means keeping Scarlet Witch unhappy for the rest of her life.
See, he believes that Scarlet Witch will be the progenitor of a line of superhumans so powerful they could destroy all time and space. To prevent her from having kids, he altered the timeline of the original Human Torch to allow the Vision to be created, and arranged for the Vision and Scarlet Witch to fall in love - he even performed the wedding ceremony himself! Then, apparently due to the Scarlet Witch's ability to alter reality, she and the seemingly sterile synthozoid had twin boys. These boys were lost to them through a story that's too long to get into now (but apparently reborn as teenagers by other mothers and are currently active as the heroes Wiccan and Speed). To prevent Scarlet Witch from falling in love again, Immortus further messed with time so that the Scarlet Witch would question everything she ever believed: was the Vision really the same android as the Human Torch? Could he love her? Was she ever pregnant? So much mind messing.
Certainly, Immortus did it before, he could do it again.
The next suspect is as old as the Earth itself. The elder demon Chthon was formed when the Earth was, and he has hated all life that has ever sprung from it. He considers Mount Wundagore, where the twins were born and home to the High Evolutionary, to be his most sacred place.
He's possessed both twins at different times, as he feels they are the key to destroying everything worth destroying. He certainly has the ability to alter fate, reality and magic to make people believe what he wants, and if he drives Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver to him, all the better.
It's time to call a spade a spade. Scarlet Witch is a master of Chaos magic and can alter the probabilities of reality itself. She, a normal-shaped human being, should not be able to fly, so she does. A building should be able to stand for decades, so she can cause it to crumble to dust. Her biggest feat (although we later learned she had help) was depowering 99 percent of the world's mutants. The job has since been undone (thanks, Phoenix), but the potential is still there.
In Axis #7, she says "STRIKE DOWN MY FAMILY!" What better way to do that then to make sure it never existed? It's entirely possible that she dissolved her own family tree just by messing with probability.
So there ya go, a history of why it is plausible that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch aren't Magneto's kids and suspects in the game of "who's messing with Magneto today," but other questions still remain: Who are their real parents? Are they even mutants? Why would people (and entities) as powerful as Immortus, Chthon and the High Evolutionary care so much about what happens to them?
Time will tell.
And retcons may tell otherwise later on.