The Scarlet Witch: Where Do I Start?

1336036-scarThe Scarlet Witch sits in the crux between the two main families in the Marvel U: the Avengers and the X-Men. Between that, her short run as a villain under the watch of her father Magneto, and her sometimes erratic — and always unpredictable — powers make her a character in superhero comics you shouldn’t take your eye off of.

Created way back in in 1964’s X-Men #4 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee as the somewhat reticent villainous cohort (along with her brother Quicksilver) for her father Magneto, the mutant born Wanda Maximoff quickly changed sides and transitioned out of the X-Men corner of the Marvel U completely and became part of the Avengers during Captain America’s first recruitment drive. Through runs on Avengers, West Coast Avengers and Force Works (gulp!), Wanda’s shown herself to be one of the most nuanced and capricious characters at the House of Ideas. Whether you blame it on her parentage, her powers or the stress she’s under, the Scarlet Witch has been at both times Marvel heroes’ biggest allies and biggest foes.

Currently starring in Uncanny Avengers and scheduled to appear in both Avengers 2: Age of Ultron and X-Men: Days of Future Past, the Scarlet Witch is one of the key parts to the Avengers franchise as well as the extended family of X-Men in mutantkind. In this week’s Where Do I Start?, I cast the proverbial bones and pick out the essential texts to better know this Marvel mutant.

202824_20100610023512_largeEssential Classic X-Men, Vol. 1: Although she wouldn’t step into the spotlight properly until a little while later, this key Marvel text collects the first 24 issues of Uncanny X-Men cheaply and efficiently and includes the villainous debut and quick turn to be a hero alongside Quicksilver under the hand of Magneto. This is a classic Lee and Kirby joint, and it’s important to see Kirby’s rendition of Wanda here to see how good and how different it is from his other heroines. In addition, Wanda’s ties to Magneto and Quicksilver established here will come to follow (and sometimes haunt) her for her entire history.

Avengers: The Vision & The Scarlet Witch: Wanda’s first starring role comes in this four-issue series from 1982 by the awesome pairing of Bill Mantlo and a young Rick Leonardi as well as the 1975 wedding of the titular heroes in Giant-Size Avengers #4. It all starts when the Avengers couple take a leave of absence from the team and try to live a normal life in a small New Jersey town. They quickly find they’ve bringing their work home with them, as everyone from Dormammu to the Grim Reaper and more. In between all this, you can witness the birth of their twin sons Thomas and William, who go on to become Wiccan and Speed,  founding members of Young Avengers.

Avengers: Vision & The Scarlet Witch – A Year In The Life: After the surprising success of the first one, Marvel commissioned a second Vision & Wanda series — this time at a ginormous 12 issues by artist Roy Howell and writer Steve Englehart; the latter who wrote Wanda expertly in the Avengers years before.. The duo really knock it out of the park, especially in issue #2, hyping up the soap opera aspects of their relationships to sounding like a CBS Thursday night romcom about a mutant an android romance.

259612_20121109170001_largeAvengers Assemble, Vol. 1: If I could I’d recommend Busiek’s whole run on Avengers, but I try to limit Where Do I Start to five or six books top. So this inaugural collection of Busiek and George Perez’s epic run reconstitutes the Avengers after a brief hiatus during the calamitious “Heroes Reborn” event, and gives readers a throwback Silver age feel that is spot-on. Of special attention in this collection is the great Wanda/Wonder Man storyline, which really puts a head on the idea that Vision and Wonder Man are in some ways the same person, and how Wonder Man has some long unrequited feelings for Wanda. Also, punching.

The Avengers: Avengers Disassembled: Love it or hate it, Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch’s twist to make Scarlet Witch responsible for “No More Mutants” and House of M has become a fundamental part of her character and something that haunts her to this day as seen in Uncanny Avengers. This arc acts as a precursor to House of M as well as Bendis’ entire Avengers run afterward, as it showcases Wanda’s slow slide into madness and her assault on the Avengers. If you like this, buy House of M to see the follow-through but this one collects Wanda’s key descent.

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade: This recently concluded maxiseries by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung is a love letter to the Scarlet Witch, bringing her back from apparent death and making her the MacGuffin in a world-spanning story-arc that brings in the Avengers, the X-Men and even a goo-goo-eyed Doctor Doom. This acts as a build-up to Avengers vs. X-Men, but it works well on its own to see how much Scarlet Witch means to the Marvel U from her team mates, her fellow mutants, the world, and her two sons.



  1. Good list. I’ve really been enjoying Wanda in Uncanny Avengers.

    @Chris: Just a friendly observation. There are a couple of typos in the Vision/Wonder Man synopsis. Unless of course Diana the Amazon Princess made an appearance in Busiek’s Avengers. In which case I stand corrected 🙂

  2. *SIGH* Busiek’s run on Avengers was the last time I was given an Avengers book the way I wanted it. After he left, Avengers kind of waned, and Bendis finally turned it into something I no longer have any desire to read. I totally get why other people like it, and I do like a lot of his other work, but he does not write an Avengers book I have any desire to read.

    I loved how Scarlet Witch was portrayed in Busiek’s run, and also her relationship with Wonder Man was very interesting.

    I always liked the idea of Wanda eventually getting together with Nightcrawler. As mutant gypsy children, they certainly have a lot in common.

    • I agree completely. I use to collect the Avengers religiously and have every Avenger issue in my stash. Now my collection ends with Busiek’s run.

      There is so much negative baggage that seems to be attached to our heroes today. First Wanda and now Cyclops. It seems the writers today can’t tell an interesting story without corrupting one of the heroes anymore.

    • I agree. In the past when one of the good guys did something bad, it was shocking. It so rarely happened. Hank Pym’s fall from grace meant one thing when it happened. Today, it see,Pym’s like heroes are constantly using bad and it just has no impact.

  3. “Disassembled” is definitely key, but I think “House of M” should be given more prominence on this list. If you want to know why the mutant characters don’t like her, plus see the seeds for AvX sown, you need to read this series. And it’s good in it’s own right, so there’s that too.

  4. Fyi, Singer has confirmed that Scarlet Witch will not be in Days of Future Past. She will only be in Avengers 2

  5. I like to start from the bottom and work my way up, personally.

  6. I’m embarrassed that I’ve never read any of these stories. The one story featuring Wanda that I have read and love is John Byrne’s run on West Coast Avengers. While the story is mainly about a rebooted Vision, Scarlet Witch is prevalent as a villain. The way she violates Wonder Man is F*%$ing brutal! Unfortunately, as with most of his projects Byrne left the book and the story unfinished. Still, I enjoyed his take on Wanda for as long as it lasted.

  7. Was I the only one a little underwhelmed by Children’s Crusade? I liked the premise, and the art is fantastic, but it just seemed to drag on forever and some of the plot twists felt a little forced. Maybe I should read it again.

    • Dragged on? Forced plot twists? In today’s comics? Noooo!!!
      Seriously it’s why my reading stash went from 20+ to maybe 5 a month now. The plots are excruciating long and seemed unnecessarily dragged out. I refuse to read Hickman’s and Remender version of the Avengers for precisely that reason. I’m not even buying the Infinity mini series because it’s just the first step of a bigger plot that won’t be resolved for another few years apparently.

    • I’ll give you Hickman’s Avengers. Despite being a fan of his, I’m starting to feel that way myself. But you’re missing out on Remender’s. His plots have an overarching story, but there are really entertaining moments throughout.

    • Based on your recommendation I’ll probably give Remender a try again when it hits TPB if only to satisfy my Avengers fix. But I’m staying away from the Legion of Avengers.

      This guy sums up feelings for Hickman pretty well.

  8. What a coincidence ,I was recently talking with my cousin about which Scarlet Witch trades to buy and in what order. This is just what I needed!