6 Scarlet Witch-Centric Comics Worth Catching Up On Before Her New Solo Series Begins
Revisit The Magic!
Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, has been an icon of the Marvel universe ever since her first introduction in a 1963 X-Men comic. As a one time Mutant, sometime Avenger, master of Chaos Magic, reality warper, former wife of The Vision, Mother of Wiccan and Speed, and the Nexus being of Earth-616, Wanda has her magical fingers in quite a lot of pies. The Scarlet Witch has been the central force behind some of the most memorable Marvel stories of all time, including 'Avengers Disassembled' and 'House of M', as well as more recent favourites like 'Young Avengers: The Children's Crusade', and the popular 2016 'Scarlet Witch' solo run.
The Scarlet Witch's popularity has grown since her debut in the Marvel Cinematic universe in 2015, and has skyrocketed further with the character's increased prominence in Phase Four, with a lead role in the Disney Plus series WandaVision, and a villain turn in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, aided by the brilliant performance of actress Elizabeth Olsen. With this growing popularity, it seemed only a matter of time before Wanda would earn another solo comic. In January 2023, the new Scarlet Witch solo comic arrives. The series will see Wanda open a special Magic Shop, seeking to use her gifts to help others, until a troubled customer forces her away from the shop into a new adventure.
For any newer comic readers, let's take a look at the stories worth catching up on before the new series arrives.
1. Avengers Disassembled
The seeds of the story that became 'Avengers Disassembled' were sewn many years earlier, following the deaths of Wanda Maximoff's twin sons, Tommy and Billy, when their souls were absorbed by Mephisto. Claiming that it will be better for Wanda to be spared the pain of that loss, her mentor Agatha Harkness blocks her memories of the twins' existence, and over time, the other Avengers forget as well. Unfortunately, this ultimately proved to be a poor decision, leading to one of the darkest periods of the Scarlet Witch's history.
When 'Avengers Disassembled' opens, Wanda has regained her memories of her lost children. Horrified at having forgotten them, Wanda kills Agatha in a mad rage. Also placing blame on the Avengers, Wanda eventually goes on a rampage that leaves multiple heroes, including Scott Lang, Clint Barton, and Wanda's former husband, Vision, dead. Doctor Strange manages to incapacitate Wanda, and she is taken away by Magneto, then believed to be her Father, on the promise that she will receive help. The remaining Avengers, devastated by the events, briefly disband.
2. House of M
Following the events of 'Avengers Disassembled', Magneto and Quicksilver take Wanda to Professor Charles Xavier in search of help. Unfortunately, Wanda fails to make progress in her sessions with Xavier, and when this news reaches the remnants of the Avengers, the heroes find themselves facing a difficult choice regarding the Scarlet Witch's future. Is she too dangerous to be allowed to live? This question leads into 'House of M'.
Before the heroes can reach a conclusion on Wanda's fate, the world is suddenly altered, giving everyone what they believe they want most: Peter Parker is married and has a child with Gwen Stacy, Carol Danvers becomes the world's most beloved superhero, and Magneto leads the world as a Mutant utopia, with Mutants as Earth's dominant species. Wanda herself is the lone 'human' member of Magneto's household, hiding away behind closed doors with her restored children.
A small band of heroes recover their memories and make a stand against Magneto, whom they believe responsible for the changed world, until the Scarlet Witch reveals herself. Blaming mutant superiority for the failure of her perfect world, Wanda utters the iconic line:
"No more Mutants."
While the world is restored mostly to what it was, the vast majority of Earth's Mutants are depowered, deeply impacting the Marvel universe for years to come.
3. Young Avengers: The Children's Crusade
With the Avengers left broken after 'Avengers Disassembled', a team of new teenage heroes, dubbing themselves the Young Avengers, step up to to take their place. In 'Young Avengers: The Children's Crusade', Young Avenger Billy Kaplan, aka Wiccan, has come to believe that he and teammate Tommy Shepherd (Speed), are the reincarnated children of the Scarlet Witch, who has been missing since 'House of M'. Billy leads the team on a search for the Scarlet Witch, eventually ending up in Latveria, where they discover an amnesiac Wanda about to marry Doctor Doom.
Wanda soon regains her memories, at which point she confirms Wiccan's suspicions about he and Speed's parentage. It is then revealed that the events of 'Disassembled' and 'House of M' were, at least in part, manipulated by Doom. With Wiccan's help, the Scarlet Witch is able to cast a spell to reverse the mass depowering of Mutants, beginning a long redemption arc for the character.
4. Scarlet Witch (2016)
In the aftermath of all the above stories, Wanda Maximoff is left wracked with guilt from her actions, despite her mental instability and manipulation at the hands of Doctor Doom having rendered them not entirely her fault. Her guilt isn't helped by the fact that the ghost of her former mentor Agatha Harkness, whom Wanda had murdered in 'Avengers Disassembled', takes up permanent residence in Wanda's home. Thankfully, Wanda gets a chance at redemption in the 2016 'Scarlet Witch' solo series. After discovering that something is amiss with the world's witchcraft, Wanda, accompanied by Agatha's ghost, embarks on a globetrotting adventure to fix it.
Aside from Wanda's quest to fix witchcraft, the story becomes a deep-dive character study, exploring Wanda's origins, including the reveal that the Scarlet Witch is not just a codename, but a mantle inherited from her biological Mother, her sometimes unhealthy relationship with her brother Pietro, and her complicated feelings about her reincarnated children. By the end of the series Wanda has made peace with herself, and after a long self-imposed exile, finally rejoins the Avengers.
5. Darkhold (2021)
In the Marvel Comics universe, Wanda Maximoff has a long, often unpleasant history with the Elder God Chthon, creator of the ancient book of evil magic known as the Darkhold. In Chthon's eyes, Wanda was born to be his vessel on Earth, and many of the darkest acts in the Scarlet Witch's history have been attributed to the Darkhold's influence. Wanda has had to fight this influence repeatedly, and refers to the book, and Chthon, as ruining her life.
Wanda faces a pivotal, do-or-die confrontation with Chthon during the 2021 'Darkhold' event. When Doctor Doom digs up the long-buried original copy of the Darkhold in the arrogant, misguided belief that he can control it's power, it falls upon the Scarlet Witch to stop Chthon from using the book as a pathway to Earth. Accompanied by a group of Marvel's greatest heroes, named in a prophecy as the Darkhold Defenders, Wanda ventures into Chthon's realm to thwart his escape. She ultimately manages to best the Elder God by absorbing the Darkhold into herself, taking control of Chthon's power.
6. Trial of Magneto
Following Wanda's mass depowering of Mutants in 'House of M', an event known as M-Day, the Scarlet Witch became a divisive figure in the Mutant community. Wanda's hope of redeeming herself in the eyes of mutant-kind, which began back in 'Children's Crusade', is finally realised in the 'Trial of Magneto' event. Shortly after arriving in the new Mutant nation of Krakoa to visit Magneto, whom she once believed to be her Father, and whom still views her as a daughter, Wanda Maximoff is found dead. Due to the manner of her death, strangulation via human magnetism, Magneto is named prime suspect, and put on trial for Wanda's murder. However, all is not as it seems, especially when Wanda seemingly turns up alive and well, minus parts of her memory, shortly afterwards.
It is eventually revealed that Magneto did kill Wanda, but it was at Wanda's own insistence, and never intended for her to remain dead. On Krakoa, a process has been created to resurrect any mutant who dies before their time, using a scan from the mutant-tracking machine Cerebro. Wanda, as an apology for M-Day, wishes to expand the process to extend to Mutants who died before the scans became routine, but to do so, she must die and go through the resurrection process herself. Bringing Magneto in on the plan was her reason for visiting Krakoa in the first place. After testing the expanded process by resurrecting the long-dead mutant Thunderbird, the Scarlet Witch is redeemed in the eyes of mutant-kind, and finally at peace..
.. At least until her new solo series begins in 2023.
I don't generally read comments but and delighted to learn that Marvel has a witch among its heroes. Great round up and drew me in from the start. Thanks for sharing. I have posted a review of your article and others in my weekly roundup of the best on Vocal. You will see it at: https://vocal.media/journal/this-week-s-reviews-five You might also be interested in an article I wrote about how to write convincing witchy stories: https://vocal.media/journal/writing-witches-and-witchery A couple of my witchy stories too: 1) https://vocal.media/fiction/dark-clouds-gather-part-one 2) https://vocal.media/fiction/learning-to-fly-nqbng70qhw If you get a chance to read any of these, please let me know what you think. Thanks and best wishes, Ray