Scarlet Witch

Seven Essential Scarlet Witch Stories to Read Before ‘WandaVision’

With the Disney Plus series on the horizon, check out this selection of Scarlet Witch comics to get you acquainted with the character.

Wanda Maximoff is one of Marvel’s most fascinating characters and one of the greatest Avengers of all time, which makes her upcoming Disney Plus series WandaVision so incredibly exciting. Over the course of nearly sixty years of comic book history, she has gone through quite a lot. She’s suffered tremendous loss, mental health crises, as well as moments of tremendous heroism and strength. Wanda began her career as a full-blown villain, serving alongside her brother Quicksilver in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in X-Men #4. She made a few more appearances before joining Captain America’s new team in Avengers #16 to atone for her past. She’s not only suffered tremendous heartache, but also had her entire world radically redefined several times, especially when Magneto was revealed to be her father and then revealed to not be her father in the more recent past. Wanda has seen tremendous ups and downs, but has nonetheless gone on to become one of the most powerful and most important Avengers in the comic’s decades-long history. 

Her trajectory in the films has more or less followed the template laid by her comic book counterpart. In Age of Ultron, she initially allied herself with Ultron before she and Quicksilver understood the devastation he was planning to unleash, with both of the twins siding with the Avengers in the movie’s third act. She has, at this point, both loved and lost Vision, and where the wonderfully weird-looking upcoming series could go is anyone’s guess. But it definitely has the opportunity to draw from decades of comic book history, and I’m sure it will, at least to some degree. There definitely appear to be clues in the trailers for WandaVision as for what stories might wind up being tackled either in this show or later on down the road.

With that in mind, there’s no better time to look back at Wanda’s long, wild, often fantastic and occasionally frustrating comic book history. Here are seven of the most essential stories to catch up on before WandaVision premieres.

Nights of Wundagore 

This storyline, which tracks roughly from Avengers #181-187, is appropriately bizarre and fantastic as only Marvel can do. It sees Wanda and Pietro first confront their past, as they meet the midwife who delivered them—a human/cow hybrid named Bova, created by the High Evolutionary as one of his many experiments at Wundagore. This is crucial for Scarlet Witch first learning (or beginning to learn, at least) where she comes from. Especially considering that, later on, the High Evolutionary takes credit for fathering both she and Quicksilver as well. Nights of Wundagore is also one of the earliest examples of the danger of Wanda’s powers going beyond her control. After all, even as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in those early X-Men issues, Wanda was always conscious of putting people in danger unnecessarily and made it clear that she did not want to seriously hurt or kill anyone. 

In this storyline, however, she is possessed by the demon Cthon, and so the Avengers find themselves facing off against a Scarlet Witch exploiting the full range of her power with no regard for the well-being of her teammates. 

West Coast Avengers 

You can start pretty much anywhere with Roger Stern and Bob Hall’s West Coast Avengers, because this was thankfully a team in which Scarlet Witch was a crucial, central member. She was, for the most part, the leader, alongside Vision. And that’s huge, considering the fact that this was the first Avengers spin-off ever. It was a lot of responsibility on Wanda’s shoulders, which made her success that much more admirable. It was a great show of growth for someone who initially joined the team as a reformed villain. 

This series gave us so many crucial Scarlet Witch stories so it’s hard to choose just one, but a standout would definitely Wanda’s pregnancy and the introduction of her twins, which would impact almost every major story featuring the Scarlet Witch up to the present day. Given that Wanda is clearly pregnant in the WandaVision teasers, brushing up on her children is a must. In this series, Wanda, who should not be able to have children, magically conceives them. Literally. They are brought to life via her hex powers, but are also imbued with the soul of the demon Mephisto. When this comes to light and they are destroyed, Scarlet Witch suffers a breakdown and becomes a danger to the team. While she recovers, this whole event and its aftermath lead to her separation from Vision. 

Scarlet Witch: Witches’ Road 

This recent solo series is fantastic and a great jumping on point for fans of the character. Despite being a mainstay Avenger who has been around since the early ‘60s, Wanda’s had very few solo outings of her own. This is the best of them, though, as it gives the Scarlet Witch a unique position in the Marvel Universe by basically turning her into Marvel’s John Constantine. While I recommend the whole series, you should at least definitely start with the first volume and go from there. 

In this solo book, Wanda basically becomes a magic detective, seeking out magical anomalies around the world and attempting to restore balance. Seeing her casually perform exorcisms is a highlight after years of largely skirting around the supernatural side of the character. It’s a comic that really digs into Wanda’s relationship with magic in a way that most series don’t, and absolutely recommended for that reason. 

The Vision and the Scarlet Witch 

The first Vision and Scarlet Witch miniseries is definitely worth reading before WandaVision as it seems to be what the series is most heavily drawing from, at least on the surface. This saw Wanda and Vision move out of the Avengers mansion and into their own house in the suburbs, to try and put some focus on their lives together over simply being Avengers. It’s an attempt to quiet things down, but of course turns out to be anything but. The first issue also takes place on Halloween, something that it clearly has in common with the upcoming show, which also sees the couple don their classic outfits as depicted here, albeit as Halloween costumes. 

This miniseries is also crucial because it sees Wanda and Pietro learn that Magneto is their father, something that comes as only a momentary shock, as neither they nor he seem all that surprised by it. While this was retconned in recent years, it was a huge part of their identities for decades, to the point that fans have basically just been waiting for it to be made official again. While it’s highly unlikely, it’s still possible—given that Marvel now has full use of the X-Men characters—that WandaVision could touch on this same revelation. 

Avengers: Disassembled & House of M

I’m combining these because Disassembled really serves as a prelude to House of M, and when people talk about the latter they often refer to events that actually happened in the former. It’s tough to describe stories that I don’t particularly love as essential, but these are the comics that most people are expecting WandaVision to draw from, by far. Most everyone going into this show is expecting it to at least begin building to what would basically be Wanda’s Dark Phoenix. And that’s by and large what these comics are. Even though The Dark Phoenix Saga was the best of its type, that kind of story still revolves around a woman being too powerful. They’re about strong, powerful women being punished for that, because they cannot be trusted to keep themselves in check. These qualities were never more blatant than in Disassembled and House of M. 

In short, these events take place after Wanda learns that she had children that she wished into existence and that her memory of her children was erased, leading to a mental breakdown. In Disassembled, she kills have the team, including Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Vision, and brings about the end of the team. In House of M, she remakes a reality in which Magneto has achieved his dream of mutant dominance, culminating in her famous line “No more mutants,” which leaves hundreds of thousands of mutants stripped of their powers. It’s an event that sees both the X-Men and the Avengers sitting in a room, talking about whether the Scarlet Witch is mentally fit to live. After the awe-inspiring displays of power, heroism and perseverance Wanda has shown in the MCU, it would be a shame to diminish that now to villainize one of their most prominent female characters. But there’s always the possibility that the these events could be reinvented in a way that keeps the core of her character intact without demonizing her. 

The Vision and the Scarlet Witch, vol. 2

The second Vision and the Scarlet Witch series lasted for twelve issues. It delved deeply into her mystical pregnancy, seeing Wanda give birth to her magically created twin sons. The characters resigned from the Avengers in order to give the book its own identity. Writer Steve Englehart mentioned his dismay at the fact that her children were killed off after he stopped writing the characters in a Women in Refrigerators post. 

Given the fact that Wanda’s sons eventually returned and became the Young Avengers Wiccan and Speed, their origin might be vital given Wanda’s apparent pregnancy in WandaVision and the fact that Marvel is clearly beginning to build toward assembling the Young Avengers on screen. 

Giant-Size Avengers #4

The Wedding of Vision and Scarlet Witch is one of the best Avengers stories overall, because it’s all about love and support among costumed heroes. Vision and Wanda have a unique, fascinating relationship. She’s a mutant witch and he’s an android, but their love for one another is very real. Maybe not every Avenger understood it, but they all came together to celebrate it. Over time, they came to have more in common than they’d initially imagined, both being the offspring of villains, with Vision being created by Ultron and Scarlet Witch eventually believing Magneto to be her father. This was the peak of their relationship, a reminder that love is unexpected, and weird and utterly unpredictable, and always at its best when those qualities are embraced. It’s a shame, given the immense love for both these characters on display in the pages of this issue, that the marriage did not last. 

When they hit their stride as a couple, Wanda and Vision completely brought out the best in one another. And even by this point, she had suffered enough heartache in her time as the Scarlet Witch that it was tremendous to have at least one event that felt like an absolute win. While clearly overshadowed by the now iconic marriage of Vision and Scarlet Witch, the issue also sees the wedding of Mantis and Swordsman.