Ever since Marvel introduced her in 1963, Scarlet Witch has been a staple in the world of comics. Her unique character, compelling origin story, and mystical powers make her a surprisingly noteworthy superhero in the current sea of X-Men, Avengers, and Inhumans. A lot of fans know Scarlet Witch from her on-screen persona, which debuted in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. Of course, the MCU only shows a little bit of Wanda’s full story. To get the full picture, you’ll have to pick up a few of her printed appearances.

Wanda Maximoff has starred in hundreds of issues but has jumped around when it comes to team loyalty. Because of this, it isn’t always easy to read Scarlet Witch’s story, unless you’re willing to pick up a few dozen omnibuses. If you want to read the evolution of Wanda’s character on a budget, here are some key issues and series to help you get on your way.

AVENGERS ORIGINS: SCARLET WITCH AND QUICKSILVER #1

Scarlet Witch
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Origin stories make superheroes. They tell us about a character’s motivations, dreams, and memories. They’re the perfect insight into why a character becomes a hero (or a villain). As readers, we need origin stories to understand the heroes we love.

For a long time, Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver had a half-formulated backstory. At first, they were just members of Magneto’s brotherhood. But, eventually, they realized that they were also Magneto’s children. The older comics don’t give us an up-close look at Wanda’s childhood, so in 2011 writer Sean McKeever tackled retelling Wanda and Pietro’s story in a modern climate. The result was AVENGERS ORIGINS: SCARLET WITCH AND QUICKSILVER, which finally gave readers the origin story they wanted. If you want to read about Scarlet Witch, but have no idea where to start, this is the issue for you.

UNCANNY X-MEN #4

Scarlet Witch
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

If you want to see Wanda’s real beginning in comics, check out UNCANNY X-MEN #4. Although the dialogue is extremely dated and Wanda comes across as a pitifully flat character, it does offer a look into what Stan Lee originally wanted from Scarlet Witch. The fact that we first see her as a villain, working for the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, makes her eventual transformation into a hero all the more dramatic.

AVENGERS #16

Scarlet Witch
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

This is where Scarlet Witch’s famous career with the Avengers begins. Once again, this issue isn’t necessarily paramount to understanding the modern Scarlet Witch, but it is a landmark event in her life as a hero. This turn from super villain to superhero defines her for decades.   

THE VISION AND SCARLET WITCH

Scarlet Witch
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

THE VISION AND SCARLET WITCH series had two volumes during the 1980s that helped foster Wanda and Vision’s relationship after their marriage in GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #4. Like a lot of the picks on this list, the dialogue is a little dated, but if you’re a fan of the Scarlet Witch and Vision pairing, these two runs are a must-read.

In the first volume, Wanda discovers that Magneto is her father. The revelation is difficult for her but in the end, it strengthens her relationship with Vision. In volume two, writer Steve Englehart takes Scarlet Witch to a different level by making her a mother. Somehow, Wanda becomes pregnant using magic and gives birth to twin boys. Even though shortly after the end of the series, the twins “die,” this arc becomes very relevant again in the 2000s.  

AVENGERS (1998) #10

Scarlet Witch
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Comics are complicated, so sometimes writers will give brief (or elongated) “recaps” to give readers the chance to catch up on what they missed in the past. In AVENGERS #10 from 1998, writer Kurt Busiek expands on Wanda’s past and present using her long-term magical mentor Agatha Harkness. Agatha quickly explains Wanda’s past, including her very early encounter with the demon Chthon. For those unfamiliar with that part of Wanda’s convoluted childhood, this issue is a good place to familiarize yourself.

AVENGERS #10 also delves into how Wanda’s powers work, which is a pretty controversial topic. Wanda wields chaos magic, thanks to the mark Chthon left on her as a baby. However, she’s also a mutant capable of energy projection like her father Magneto. Well, at this time he’s her father. In the twenty-first century, things get even more complicated.     

HOUSE OF M (2005)

Scarlet Witch
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Quite possibly one of the most emotional Marvel miniseries to date, HOUSE OF M shows readers a side of Wanda they’ve never seen before. The series is set soon after the AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED storyline, where Wanda has a mental breakdown and inadvertently kills Hawkeye and Vision. The X-Men and the Avengers are trying to decide what to do with her since her mental state had yet to improve with Charles Xavier’s psychic coaching. In order to keep his twin safe, Quicksilver encourages his sister to create a new reality, where all their friends are “happy.” This leads to a completely alien version of the world, where Magneto and his family reign supreme.

HOUSE OF M explores Wanda’s fragile mental health and her poor relationship with her powers. It also begins a long arc involving “M-Day” and the disappearance of many of Earth’s mutants, which then leads to numerous other important 21st century series, including AVENGERS VS. X-MEN. Even if you don’t consider yourself a huge Scarlet Witch fan, this series is a must-read.

AVENGERS: CHILDREN’S CRUSADE (2010)

Scarlet Witch
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Following the events of HOUSE OF M, AVENGERS: CHILDREN’S CRUSADE finds a memory-wiped Wanda bound and determined to marry her “one true love,” Dr. Doom. The miniseries prominently features Wanda’s “children,” Speed and Wiccan, who attempt to rescue their “mother” from Doom’s clutches.

Writer Allan Heinberg puts a strong focus on developing Wiccan’s relationship with Wanda and, in a larger sense, Wiccan’s relationship with the superhero world. He also explores how Wanda would act if placed in a world where she wasn’t praised and feared for her powers. This series has some great Scarlet Witch characterization and some important plot points for her development in the 21st century. At only nine issues, it’s a short and enjoyable read.  

VISION #7 (2015)

Scarlet Witch
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Tom King’s VISION is an excellent in-depth exploration into Vision’s character. It’s a great series that I highly recommend to anyone even slightly interested in comics. However, in regards to Wanda, the series doesn’t touch on her very much. It takes place years after her and Vision’s split. Still, there is one issue, VISION #7, that takes a break from the larger narrative to reflect on Wanda and Vision’s tumultuous marriage.

You don’t need to read VISION #1-6 to understand this issue, but you do need a little background knowledge on Wanda’s marriage since it’s more than just a recap. King doesn’t repeat what writers have said in the past. Instead, he gives Wanda and Vision’s marriage a new, jarring perspective for readers already familiar with this pairing. Out of all the picks on this list, VISION #7 might be the most honest interpretation of Wanda.   

SCARLET WITCH (2016)

Scarlet Witch
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Scarlet Witch had a solo series in 1994, but it hardly did the character justice. Her horrible leotard costume is enough of a reason not to read it. Thankfully, in 2016, writer James Robinson gave Wanda a new series that hoped to do more than just upset every female reader who came across it. SCARLET WITCH sees a Wanda who’s struggling with her magic. Using magic for years comes with a price, which is something Jason Aaron was simultaneously exploring in his DR. STRANGE series. Very seldom do readers get an in-depth look at Wanda’s magical abilities since more often writers choose to tackle her reality-altering powers (which are, I admit, pretty cool).

SCARLET WITCH takes on an edgier vibe than past series featuring Wanda, which might not be for everyone. But, if you’d like to learn more about Wanda’s magic (and her retconned past), this is a perfect read.  

Additional Reading

The world of Marvel comics is sprawling. This can be both a good and a bad thing. For new fans, it can seem pretty overwhelming. Going to a comic store and picking up an issue of UNCANNY AVENGERS with the Scarlet Witch on the cover doesn’t guarantee an easy, Wanda-focused read. The fact that this character even needs a reading guide proves that learning about her history is far from simple.

But, at the same time, the massive amount of Marvel comics that are out there make reading an on-going adventure. There are tons of series and issues that give even more insight into the Scarlet Witch. If you go through this guide and want some more Scarlet Witch picks try UNCANNY AVENGERS, AVENGERS VS. X-MEN, and AXIS. These series require a lot of pre-reading, so be prepared! The on-page Marvel universe awaits.

Show ComicsVerse some Love! Leave a Reply!