As Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff has had a long and complicated history in Marvel’s comics. She has been a villain, one of the original Avengers, a mutant, and a powerful magic-user. She’s also now firmly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will be staring in her own miniseries.
With WandaVision hitting Disney+, it’s never been a better time to read Scarlet Witch comics. The following list is a mixture of classics, fan-favourites, and curiosities for your reading pleasure.
Avengers Origins: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver
Written by Sean McKeever. Art by Mirco Pierfederici.
This one-in-done story is a modern retelling of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s origin. It amalgamates her first appearance (1963’s X-Men #4) and her joining the Avengers (1965’s Avengers #16) with new sequences that tie everything into one cohesive story.
The story packs a lot into 30 pages. We get to see how her powers manifest, how she met Magneto, and explores her often complicated relationships with her family.
If you want to explore her early days, but don’t want to dive into Silver Age comics, then this story for you.
Bewitched, Bothered, and Dead!
Written by Steve Englehart. Art by Sal Buscema.
Agatha Harkness, former Fantastic Four nanny and powerful witch, has taken Wanda under her wing to train her in the magical arts. But before any lessons can get underway, the evil Necrodamus attacks the Avengers Mansion.
This 1974 story is a pivotal moment for Scarlet Witch and her power set. Instead of her “hex magic” mutant abilities, this take marked the transition to traditional magic use. Through doing this, it opened the door to growing Wanda as a character and a more versatile member of the Avengers.
As an added bonus, there’s some relationship drama with Vision and a potential love-triangle.
Nights of Wundagore
Written by Mark Gruenwald, Steven Grant, and David Michelinie. Art by John Byrne.
You thought you knew Scarlet Witch and her brother’s origins, well think again! Nights of Wundagore took what was established*, and retconned it. While it became more convoluted, it was far more interesting than before.
This is actually two stories, but the way they work off each and are told close together means I am counting it as one. The first part sees the superhero siblings kidnapped, while at the same time the Avengers are in the middle of a mandated downsizing. It’s a fun caper with magic, action, and team politics. It also sets up the second half of the story, which will see the pair go on a quest to uncover their past.
In the second half, we see them head to the fictional European nation of Transia to find out more about their parents and background. We find out more about their past, from their Romani heritage to some odd science fiction elements.
But it’s not all about discovering lost history. This tale gets to explore more of Wanda’s magical abilities too.
*Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were thought to be the children of Golden Age heroes The Whizzer and Miss America.
BONUS PICK: Check out Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1982 series) #4. It adds new wrinkles to Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s parentage mystery.
Written by Jo Duffy. Art by Kerry Gammil.
This team-up between Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange begins when a movie production accidentally summons a monster from another realm. Causing havoc in New York City, the pair of magical heroes run into each other and partner-up to save the day.
While this tale is brief at only six-pages, Duffy and Gammil pack in enough interesting points to make it worth your time. It’s a great showcase of Wanda’s powers and there’s a level of compassion to the stopping the threat that can be lacking in superhero comics.
Single Issues: Marvel Team-Up #125 (back-up story)
Trade Paperback: N/A
The Children’s Crusade
Written by Alan Heinberg. Art by Jim Cheung.
The mid-200s was rough for Scarlet Witch. Avengers: Disassembled and House of M* were a massive heel turn, which at the same time did a disservice to the character’s development. The Children’s Crusade is Wanda’s redemption story, which helps to reconcile the things that she has done.
It took her out of villain limbo, tying-up stories up stories that were weighing her down. As a result, she ends up in a much better place than what she started, allowing her to move on from it.
If that’s not enough, Jim Cheung is a phenomenal artist. His art works on a big scale, rending huge fights involving dozens of characters, but he’s also able to capture the small intimate moments too.
*I decided not to include Avengers: Disassembled and House of M on this list because they don’t do any favours for the character and are a bad representation of mental health.
About The Deaths Of Many Cats
Written by James Robinson. Art by Vanesa Del Rey.
While Scarlet Witch had been around for more than 50 years, she had never had her own ongoing solo comic until late 2015. This story kicks off the series, setting it up as a magical procedural where Wanda investigates why Witchcraft is broken.
This is a Scarlet Witch who is looking to atone for her past mistakes. By doing good deeds, she’s looking to atone from her sins. She also wants to move on from them so they don’t define her. As a result of this, Wanda is written as smart and confident in her abilities, who understands the risks in what she does and accepts them.
Vanesa Del Rey gives the comic a grimy elegance. She roams the city with an aura of grace, while the city around her is dark and comprised of rough lines. It’s a strong juxtaposition between her and the darkness of the magic she faces.
FURTHER READING: Check out the rest of the series if you like the premise of it. Each story, which range from 1-2 issues each, has a different artist that bring their own style. In total, this series ran for 15 issues and is collected over three trade paperback collections.
Shhh: A Whisper
Written by James Robinson. Art by Javier Pulido.
Wanda is summoned to Spain to help a Catholic Church that has a demon problem in their basement. The problem is, they are unable to perform an exorcism as anyone who speaks is possessed.
A big chunk of this issue is silent. But this is where the story excels with Spanish artist Javier Pulido using his master cartooning skills to communicate the story. Through his depiction of movement, facial expressions, body language, and the way scenes transition into one another, there is no need for any dialogue.
This issue explores the of the Catholic Church in Spain. It shows how superstition can create fear and how that out-weighs rational decision making.