Monday

OMU: Scarlet Witch -- Part One

Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, has always been one of my favorite characters from the Original Marvel Universe, and she has a rich, complex, and often tragic history that rewards both chronological and psychological analysis. Her early years—both as a reluctant member of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and then as one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers—are marked by several large gaps during which her character was not used, and it occurred to me to wonder what she was doing “behind the scenes” during those times. The following chronology attempts to answer that question with common-sense speculations based on the available evidence, as well as giving a detailed look at her role in the stories in which she did appear, all told from her perspective.

Another question this chronology attempts to deal with is one I raised in my post on Sex in the Original Marvel Universe, which is why a beautiful, lively girl like Wanda would decide to get married to the Vision, an artificial man who was really just a glorified robot. Having sex with an android might be fun, as seen on an early episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but to get married to one, move to the suburbs, and try to start a family is another matter entirely. I pondered what could have driven Wanda to make such a bizarre choice of mate, and while looking through her early appearances in search of clues, I came across a panel from her first appearance, in Uncanny X-Men #4, which suddenly inspired an answer. The body language itself told the tale: the Scarlet Witch was sexually abused by Magneto during the time she was under his sway, and this trauma—which she kept secret from everyone, including her twin brother—left her with a pathological aversion to sex that only the Vision, by the very nature of his artificiality, was able to circumvent.

This is a very controversial theory, as I have learned from discussions with friends, but I am convinced it is a sound one. I’m satisfied to call it a theory and leave it at that; I’m not going to try to “prove” that this is what “actually” happened, but merely to support my theory with textual and subtextual evidence. I’m certainly not arguing that this is what Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, or any other writers or artists necessarily intended, either. The restrictive comic book censorship codes of the time forbade any dealing with healthy sexuality, let alone issues of sexual abuse, so this wouldn’t have been on the radar screen in the Marvel Bullpen. That said, I believe that authorial intent is irrelevant to literary analysis in any case.

However, such a crime would not be out of character for Magneto at this point in his life. He was often shown to be physically abusive toward the other members of his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and even tried to detonate a nuclear bomb just to kill the X-Men in one of his earliest appearances. Plus, as we learn much later, the Scarlet Witch bears a striking resemblance to Magneto’s long-dead wife, and in his insanity he might feel that she had somehow “returned” to him in this new guise, and from there he could justify using her to satisfy his lusts. Magneto, of course, eventually turned out to be Wanda’s father, which would make his abuse incestuous. However, neither character was aware of their relationship at the time. Magneto’s insanity would continue to grow until he was regressed to infancy by a powerful mutant, and later returned to adulthood via alien technology. After that, his madness seemed to abate and he began to rethink his ways and reform his behavior. Certainly he would then have come to feel remorse for what he had done to Wanda, which might have fuelled some of his attempts toward redemption.

The Scarlet Witch, for her part, exhibited a degree of mental instability over the years that would be consistent with an abuse survivor who never faced her trauma or got help. See issues of Avengers West Coast for numerous examples from the Original Marvel Universe, and even the more recent “Avengers Disassembled” storyline for a more modern exploration of her mental health. Whether my theories are correct or not, it is clear that Wanda had a much harder life than even most of Marvel’s super-villains, and yet she always fought to do what’s right and to protect others—the true measure of a hero.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Now, the long-awaited True History of the Scarlet Witch!


January 1945 – A silver-haired man known as Magnus and a gypsy named Magda escape from the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland. Magnus saves Magda’s life by killing a guard about to shoot her as the camp is being shut down by the retreating Nazis. The couple slips off into the woods, then moves south into the Carpathian Mountains. Within a few months, they are married.

May 1947 – Magda gives birth to their first child, a girl whom they name Anya.

June 1949 – Magnus and Magda are living in the Soviet Union when Magda becomes pregnant with twins. Initially, she decides to keep this information secret from her husband, due to their precarious financial situation.

August 1949 – As his mutant powers begin to manifest themselves, Magnus runs afoul of the Soviet authorities, who prevent him from rescuing Anya from the burning inn in which she is trapped. As his daughter’s blazing body plummets to the street, Magnus lashes out with his magnetic powers, killing everyone at the scene. Magda is horrified by what her husband has become, and, consumed by grief, terror, and despair, she flees into the night. Magnus goes into hiding to escape the secret police. Magda makes her way southwest into the Balkans, terrified that her husband will find her.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Robert Frank and Madeline Joyce have retired from their careers as the costumed adventurers known as the Whizzer and Miss America and gotten married. After giving birth to one radioactive baby, Madeline accidentally becomes pregnant again. During her first trimester, she begins to experience serious complications.

March 1950 – As her own pregnancy comes to term, Magda the Gypsy reaches the mysterious citadel of the High Evolutionary, located high on remote Wundagore Mountain in Transia. A super-evolved cow-woman named Bova acts as midwife, and Magda gives birth to twin babies, a girl and a boy, whom she names Wanda and Pietro. Outside the citadel, a supernatural war is raging between the High Evolutionary’s Knights of Wundagore and the demon Chthon, who is trapped within the mountain itself. Facing imminent defeat, Chthon senses the awesome latent power within the infant girl’s mutant body and imbues her with some of his energy, granting her great magical potential as well. Bova notices the baby briefly glows with the same eerie lights flashing in the night sky outside.

As soon as she is able, however, Magda leaves the children behind and flees into the night, never to be heard from again. Days later, Robert and Madeline Frank arrive at Wundagore Mountain, seeking a cure for Madeline’s illness from the High Evolutionary. Bova acts as midwife once again, but Madeline dies in childbirth, the result of her highly-radioactive mutant baby, which is stillborn. Hoping to make some good out of this tragedy, Bova offers Magda’s twins to the grief-stricken Robert Frank, but he leaves Wundagore as fast as his super-human speed can take him.

April 1950 – Realizing the twin babies need a human family to nurture them, the High Evolutionary takes them to a gypsy camp at the foot of the mountain and charges Django Maximoff and his wife Marya to raise them as their own. Having lost their own twin children, the couple agrees.

May 1956 – Magnus is volunteering at a psychiatric hospital for Holocaust survivors in Haifa, Israel when he meets Charles Xavier. As they get to know each other, Magnus begins to suspect that Xavier is a mutant like himself, and his suspicions are confirmed when the hospital is attacked by the terrorist group HYDRA. The HYDRA agents, led by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, are seeking a fortune in Nazi gold, and Magnus and Xavier follow them to Kenya to rescue their friend Gabrielle Haller, who knows the secret of the gold’s whereabouts. Using their mutant powers, Magnus and Xavier defeat Strucker and his men, and Magnus takes all the gold for himself. Seeing that the spirit of the Nazis lives on, Magnus begins to plot the overthrow of Homo sapiens in favor of mutants like himself.

August 1961 – Wanda reaches puberty at the age of 11, and along with the normal physiological changes, she faces another change as well: the first manifestations of her mutant power, the ability to alter probability fields. Initially unfocused and uncontrollable, Wanda’s power tends to cause accidents and disasters to take place. At first, she is merely considered a “jinx” by the other gypsies.

May 1962 – Pietro reaches puberty himself, and his own mutant power emerges, the power of super-speed. Pietro comes to believe that his power makes him better than normal people, whom he grows to distrust.

July 1962 – With his family facing starvation, Django Maximoff begins to steal food from the local villagers, who then attack the gypsy camp and burn it down. Pietro uses his super-speed to carry Wanda away, but before they realize it, they are lost hundreds of miles from home. In their panic, they assume the worst, that their parents were killed by the angry mob. Marya is indeed beaten to death, and Django believes Wanda and Pietro have perished as well. Devastated, he begins a solitary journey to the east. Meanwhile, the children decide they must try to keep their powers a secret as they scratch out a living in the forests and villages of Eastern Europe.

October 1962 – Magnus, now calling himself “Magneto,” initiates his plan to seize power for the race of Homo superior and subjugate normal humankind. He has begun constructing an enormous orbiting headquarters, dubbed Asteroid M. During construction, he attacks Cape Canaveral in Florida, but is driven off by the novice mutant taskforce called the X-Men. Magneto realizes that he, too, must form a group of mutants loyal to him to counter this mysterious group, and so he returns to Europe.

A few weeks later, Magneto happens upon the village where Wanda and Pietro are living. Wanda’s powers have run amok and she is causing houses to burst into flame, livestock to perish, and other disasters. The terrified villagers condemn her as a witch, and are about to attack her when Magneto sweeps to the rescue, using his magnetic powers to drive off the angry mob. Wanda swears she owes Magneto her life, and he extracts from her a promise to serve him. Pietro, terrified by these events, swears to go with Wanda to protect her, as any headstrong 12-year-old boy would do.

November 1962 – Magneto sets Wanda and Pietro up with luxurious quarters within his imposing fortress on an uncharted island in the Atlantic Ocean. He gives Wanda a beautiful costume: a pink silk leotard under a red satin bodysuit, with a wide red belt cinching her waist, elaborate red boots, long red gloves, a red headpiece and a flowing red cape, which she finds delightful. He also gives her a code-name, the Scarlet Witch, and encourages her to forget her “human” identity as Wanda Maximoff. Her brother Pietro he christens Quicksilver and gives him a green costume with a large silver lightning bolt across the chest. Struck by the resemblance between Wanda and his long-lost wife Magda, and driven by the growing madness in his brain, Magneto begins molesting Wanda in her room at night. Feeling frightened and helpless, Wanda keeps it a secret from her brother.

In the weeks to come, while continuing to work on Asteroid M, Magneto begins to teach the twins to read and speak English. Then he brings to the island two mutants he discovered in England, an ugly little sycophant he calls the Toad, and a gaunt, middle-aged man called Mastermind. Wanda finds the Toad disgusting and Mastermind sleazy. She relies more and more on Pietro to stand up for her, which he gladly does, intent on proving himself. Pietro convinces Wanda that they’ll only stay with Magneto a short while, and when they are able, they will return to Europe together and start a new life.

Magneto leaves Wanda and Pietro on the island with Toad and Mastermind while he goes off to commandeer a World War II era freighter from an American shipping company. When Mastermind makes lewd sexual comments about the Scarlet Witch, she loses her temper and a fight breaks out, with Quicksilver punching Mastermind out at high speed. Upon his return, Magneto is furious, and when Quicksilver threatens to take Wanda away with him, Magneto reminds her of the debt she owes him. As he touches her, Wanda cringes and agrees to remain. To drive the point home, Magneto molests her once again that very night.

December 1962 – A few days later, Magneto loads up his new team aboard the heavily-armed freighter and heads for South America, anchoring off the coast of the republic of Santo Marco. Magneto begins shelling the capital city, intent on conquering the tiny country. When Mastermind creates the illusion of a vast invading army, the government collapses and Magneto seizes power. Magneto and his followers move into the Presidential Palace, and over the next week, a real army is formed to supplement the illusory one. Soon, Magneto presides over a new dictatorship, although the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are filled with misgivings about the entire mission. As expected, the X-Men attack, but the Magneto is ready for them. Wanda is instrumental in capturing the Angel, using her hex power to cause the ceiling to collapse on top of him. However, the X-Men are able to regroup after Cyclops’ optic blasts destroy Magneto’s massive electric generator. Wanda and Pietro are shocked when they learn Magneto’s contingency plan is to detonate a nuclear bomb, destroying the X-Men and all of Santo Marco. As they flee the besieged palace, Wanda’s mind is filled with confusion and doubt, but Pietro takes matters into his own hands and deactivates the bomb, eluding capture by dint of his super-human speed. In the wake of this incident, Magneto’s group is dubbed “The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants” by the international news media.

Magneto finally completes work on Asteroid M, and moves his team of mutants to their new orbiting headquarters. Their accommodations aboard the high-tech orbiter are much less to Wanda’s liking, and she grows increasingly unhappy. Her fear of Magneto and his power over her grows, as he has taken her away from her village, her homeland, even now the earth itself. Also, as his frustration over the continuing interference of the X-Men builds, Magneto becomes more forceful, even more violent in his sexual impositions. For two weeks, Magneto searches for the X-Men’s secret headquarters, but to no avail. Finally, he sets a trap to flush the young heroes into the open. The gambit is successful, and the Angel is taken prisoner aboard Asteroid M and subjected to a brutal interrogation that sickens the Scarlet Witch. When the rest of the X-Men come to the rescue, Magneto is about to flush them out the airlock when Wanda uses her hex power to short out the control panel, in blatant defiance of Magneto’s will. Magneto is about to deliver his punishment on Wanda and Pietro both when the X-Men storm the control room. The force of the ensuing battle tears Asteroid M apart, and as it self-destructs, Magneto’s group returns to Earth in a magnetically controlled escape pod.

Realizing he needs to add some muscle to his team, Magneto decides to contact Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, a powerful mutant who has already battled the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. When the Sub-Mariner arrives at their island fortress, Magneto attempts to force the Scarlet Witch to seduce Namor to ensure his cooperation. Wanda is struck by the Sub-Mariner’s sexy physique, but as she approaches him, her hex power accidentally causes a device Namor is examining to discharge a massive bolt of electricity. Then, before any negotiations can begin, the X-Men attack. Magneto sends Quicksilver out to prevent Cyclops from destroying Magneto’s ultimate weapon, but he is captured by the X-Men. Witnessing the scene from the control bunker, Wanda panics and begs Magneto to rescue him. When Magneto rebuffs her angrily, the Sub-Mariner is incensed, and suddenly destroys the elaborate machinery. As Magneto attacks him, the X-Men burst into the bunker. Magneto, Toad, and Mastermind retreat deeper into the fortress, but the Scarlet Witch remains to demand the X-Men release her brother. When Professor X reveals Quicksilver to be under his mental control, Wanda fears Pietro has been turned into a zombie. However, the mysterious leader of the X-Men proves to be benevolent, and as soon as Pietro’s mind is released, Wanda begins to fear Magneto’s wrath. She has good reason, for, after the Sub-Mariner levels the fortress, Magneto turns his rage upon his subordinates, blasting Mastermind and the Toad with magnetic force. As they escape the island in a small aircraft, Magneto forces Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to join them. He grills the twins about the X-Men’s leader, but strangely, all Wanda can remember is that he was in a wheelchair.

January 1963 – The Mutant Brotherhood returns to New York, trying to track down the X-Men. Magneto sends his team into the city, but the X-Men chase them back to Pier 54. Meanwhile, Magneto has his hands full with Thor, who has discovered his submersible craft in Upper New York Bay. The X-Men chase Magneto off and Thor destroys the ship.

After this humiliating defeat, the Mutant Brotherhood goes into hiding while planning their next move. The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver join Magneto in his secret headquarters in midtown Manhattan. Mastermind returns to his derelict mansion in upstate New York, and, several weeks later, Magneto summons them all to meet there. The Scarlet Witch is the first to arrive, and Mastermind tries to convince her to become his lover. When she rejects him, he attempts to rape her. However, Magneto arrives and attacks Mastermind, subduing him violently. Quicksilver arrives as well, and threatens anyone who tries to harm his sister. Magneto ignores him and outlines his latest plan to defeat the X-Men. Still looking to add muscle to their group, they attempt to enlist an amnesiac Blob from his traveling carnival. At first he rebuffs them, but when Magneto accidentally restores the Blob’s memory, he agrees to aid them in destroying their common enemies. They set an elaborate trap in a factory Magneto owns in New Jersey and lure the X-Men there. Wanda and Pietro participate only half-heartedly in the battle, and when Magneto attempts to blow up the X-Men, and the Blob as well, with a barrage of missiles, the Scarlet Witch nearly becomes hysterical. Realizing he’s pushed Wanda and Pietro to the breaking point, Magneto decides to regroup, and the Brotherhood flees in a large hovercraft. Magneto decides to let things cool off for a little while.

February 1963 – Magneto continues educating Wanda and Pietro while they are living together in Manhattan. Pietro notices that Wanda is constantly on edge, and Magneto’s sudden restraint, even benevolence, makes her feel even more fearful and confused. Early in the month, finding Magneto gone for the day, Pietro decides their chance has come to escape, but Wanda continues to feel bound by her oath. They decide to seek out the advice of the world-famous Fantastic Four, and head across town to the Baxter Building. Mistaking Quicksilver’s sudden entrance into their headquarters as an attack, the Human Torch and the Thing, who are home alone, immediately fight back. Angry, Quicksilver welcomes the opportunity to pit his powers against theirs. The Scarlet Witch tries to break up the fight, but her hex goes awry and she herself is knocked unconscious. Pietro lashes out at the hot-headed heroes. However, the heat from the Human Torch’s flame soon revives her, and Wanda unleashes a powerful hex that takes the fight out of everyone. Convinced that humans will attack them no matter what they do, Wanda and Pietro return home, and a baffled Torch and Thing don’t bother trying to stop them.

March 1963 – Wanda and Pietro quietly celebrate their thirteenth birthday at Magneto’s headquarters in Manhattan. Although his sexual frustration is growing, Magneto has decided to refrain from molesting Wanda until he is more certain of their continued obedience. Pietro realizes that Wanda cannot take much more of Magneto and that they must leave his service soon.

April 1963 – Magneto has made contact with a powerful being calling himself the Stranger, and lures him to his Manhattan headquarters. Both Magneto and Mastermind attempt to demonstrate their awesome powers, but the Stranger is unimpressed, and discharges a blast of energy that wrecks the entire room. He then turns his power on Mastermind, transforming him into a living statue. Suddenly, the X-Men attack, and during the fight, Iceman encases Quicksilver in ice and snow, immobilizing him. The Scarlet Witch lashes out with her hex power, until Marvel Girl hits her with a telekinetic barrage of rubble and scrap metal. During the fray, the Stranger, Magneto, and the Toad suddenly vanish within an energy vortex. The battle ended, Cyclops frees Quicksilver from his icy prison. Wanda and Pietro announce they’re finished with Magneto, and will serve him no longer. Seeing the good in them, Cyclops asks them to join the X-Men and fight against Magneto and his kind. Wanda is tempted, but Pietro decides they have had enough of endless conflict and should return home to Europe. Cyclops decides to let them go. Soon after, Professor X contacts Wanda and Pietro telepathically to inform them that the Stranger has taken Magneto and the Toad off into outer space. With an overwhelming sense of relief, Wanda and Pietro travel to Switzerland for a much-needed rest in an isolated chalet owned by Magneto.

May 1963 – After only a few weeks, however, Pietro grows bored, and is excited to read in the newspaper that the Avengers are accepting applications for membership, and have already enlisted the reformed criminal called Hawkeye. Believing this to be a chance for Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to redeem themselves publicly, he convinces Wanda that they should contact the Avengers immediately. He dashes off a letter of introduction, and then makes preparations for their return to New York.

Upon their arrival, Wanda and Pietro are met by the millionaire industrialist Tony Stark, who publicly bankrolls the super-hero group, and after a brief photo-op, he conducts them to Avengers’ Mansion in his limousine. Then, Wanda and Pietro are given a long, intensive interview by Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp, in which they explain about Magneto and why they felt indebted to him, and how they had prevented him from killing on several occasions. However, Wanda keeps Magneto’s sexual abuse a secret. Satisfied, the Avengers accept their petition for membership. As the meeting winds down, Captain America and Rick Jones return from a mission. Wanda and Pietro are both struck by the jolly camaraderie that exists among the colorful adventurers. Cap is shocked by Iron Man’s announcement that he, Giant-Man, and the Wasp are leaving the ranks of the Avengers. However, Cap vows to stay on and lead the new team. A throng of reporters has gathered outside the mansion, and soon, Captain America appears with Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch to announce the change in membership. Wanda and Pietro are overwhelmed by the crowd’s positive response. They have suddenly gone from outlaws to celebrities.

That night, Wanda settles into her new quarters in Avengers’ Mansion, exhausted and overcome with emotion. In the next few days, she and Pietro receive official pardons for any and all crimes committed while in Magneto’s service from President John F. Kennedy. They also spend many hours in the mansion’s library, reviewing the Avengers’ files on their previous enemies, such as Loki; the Space Phantom; the Sub-Mariner and his Atlantean armies; the Lava Men; Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil: the Black Knight, the Melter, the Radioactive Man, the Executioner, and the Enchantress; Kang the Conqueror; Wonder Man; Immortus; the Mole Man; the Red Ghost; Count Nefaria; and the alien Kallusians; as well as other information they have gathered on menaces to world security. Captain America also gives them a tour of the Avengers’ extensive training facilities. Wanda quickly realizes she finds Captain America to be incredibly attractive.

After Rick Jones moves out of the mansion and returns to New Mexico, Captain America decides it is time for the new Avengers’ first mission: to track down the Hulk in hopes of persuading him to rejoin the team. They fly out to the New Mexico desert, only to fall into a trap set by the Mole Man. Although frightened by the Mole Man’s subterranean monsters, Wanda and Pietro battle valiantly. The outcome is inconclusive, but Wanda is thrilled that her first mission with the Avengers went so well. A few days later, Thor returns to the mansion after a lengthy absence, and is naturally surprised to find the roster so changed. Like the other Avengers before him, Thor decides to take inactive status for the time being.

June 1963 – When the Fantastic Four come under attack on the day of Susan Storm’s wedding to Reed Richards, the Avengers rush to their aid. While her teammates join the battle raging in the streets of Manhattan, the Scarlet Witch remains in the Baxter Building with the Invisible Girl and Alicia Masters, intent on using her mutant hex powers to protect the nervous bride and her blind bridesmaid. Here she meets the sorcerer Doctor Strange, who remains with the three young women inside the building. After the army of super-villains is defeated, the wedding goes ahead as planned. The next morning, Wanda and Pietro are appalled to learn of an anti-mutant riot in Manhattan the night before, of which they were unaware while attending Reed and Sue’s wedding reception.

For a while after this incident, things are quiet around Avengers’ Mansion. Wanda and Pietro receive their first Avenger’s stipend checks, and begin exploring the entertainments New York City has to offer. Wanda discovers the wonders of Broadway and becomes a regular theatergoer, even entertaining fantasies of being a famous actress herself. While attending a performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Wanda receives the Avengers’ call signal. Once the team is assembled, Captain America announces their next mission: to leave immediately for Communist North Vietnam to assist an underground group of freedom fighters. Although Wanda and Pietro are dubious, both Hawkeye and Captain America convince them that the Avengers should get involved. Upon arriving in North Vietnam, however, the heroes soon realize they have fallen into a trap. While the Scarlet Witch is held captive in a glass cell, the other Avengers are forced to fight a gigantic military strongman called the Commissar. During the fighting, Captain America deduces that the Commissar is really a robot, and the Scarlet Witch uses her hex power to expose the charade. The oppressed villagers hail her as their savior, as her teammates chuckle.

July 1963 – As the weeks pass relatively quietly, Pietro grows bored and restless, constantly yearning for action. Wanda, however, continues to explore the hedonistic delights available in New York, and takes to lounging around the mansion eating imported chocolates. She also spends her stipend checks on fine clothes and expensive jewelry, as well as evenings out on the town attending Broadway shows or concerts at the recently opened Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. One night, their boredom is alleviated when an intruder is caught in the mansion: the international criminal known as the Swordsman. However, the Swordsman escapes, and then Captain America reveals that he’s been trying to secure a position in Nick Fury’s new counter-espionage unit called S.H.I.E.L.D., which would necessitate him being an Avenger only part-time. Wanda is worried when she sees ambition lighting up the eyes of both Hawkeye and her brother Pietro. Captain America is then led into a trap by the Swordsman, but when the Avengers come to the rescue, the Swordsman suddenly vanishes into thin air. Tempers flare when the team returns to Avengers’ Mansion, but the arguments are interrupted by an image of Iron Man asking them to accept the Swordsman’s bid for membership. The Swordsman returns, and spends a week training with the suspicious heroes, until one night he is discovered planting a bomb in the main computer control panel. A battle ensues, but the Swordsman escapes once again.

August 1963 – The bickering among the Avengers continues, and Wanda’s schoolgirl crush on Captain America grows, which she finds both exhilarating and frightening. When the Avengers attack an illusory creature in the streets of the city, they are blamed for the property damage their “battle” has caused. The next day, they are again tricked into destroying a subway train, thereby shutting down an entire line of the subway system. Realizing they’re being made fools of, the Avengers argue amongst themselves again, and Wanda gets angry with Hawkeye for his insulting attitude toward Captain America. Cap soon discovers that their enemy is a super-strongman calling himself Power Man. When the Avengers track him to his mansion headquarters, they find themselves under arrest--for trespassing. Hawkeye and Quicksilver are also charged with assault, and Captain America must bail them out of jail. Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. declares the Avengers to be public menaces and orders the team to disband. The Avengers comply with the subsequent court order, and part with more arguments and recriminations.

Wanda and Pietro check into a posh hotel, but realize they need to find gainful employment as soon as possible to support their new lifestyles. While Pietro goes to a talent agent, Wanda auditions for a number of theatrical productions, but neither has any luck, since the discredited Avengers are now considered “box office poison.” However, they soon receive a telegram from a circus troupe asking them to join. The Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye are excited by the chance to perform for an audience, until they discover they have actually fallen in with the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime. When the Ringmaster reveals the troupe’s true intentions, a fight breaks out, and the Scarlet Witch takes on Princess Python. Cleverly, the Ringmaster summons the police, claiming the renegade Avengers are trying to rob the circus. The disgraced heroes flee the scene, and a citywide manhunt begins. Meanwhile, Captain America tracks Power Man to a hotel room, where he discovers the brains behind the plot to discredit the Avengers is none other than the Enchantress. After getting Power Man’s boastful confession on tape, Cap and the other Avengers fight him to a standstill. Disappointed, the Enchantress teleports away, and Power Man gives up. The Avengers are then cleared of all charges against them, but Captain America leaves the team in disgust. Realizing Cap is gone, Wanda is heartbroken.

The next night, the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye spring into action when they believe the mansion has come under attack, only to be quickly rendered unconscious. When they awaken, they find themselves transported to the distant future, prisoners of Kang the Conqueror. The Scarlet Witch summons all her hex power to break them out of their transparent prison cells, but the team soon becomes lost in the labyrinthine complex. Captured once again, Wanda is frustrated that her mutant power seems somewhat diminished. The tables turn after Captain America arrives on the scene, and the Avengers challenge Kang to combat. Kang, however, who is trying to force the lovely Princess Ravonna to marry him, orders his legions to attack the city. Kang escapes, and the Avengers realize they are in a state of total war. Captain America clearly relishes the opportunity to be back in combat, but the Scarlet Witch is primarily concerned for Pietro’s safety. Her worst fears are realized when Quicksilver goes missing in action, and she, Hawkeye, and Captain America are captured and dragged before Kang in shackles. However, Kang’s insistence on marrying Princess Ravonna causes his own troops to turn against him. Brilliantly, Kang releases the Avengers and enlists them to help him crush the rebellion in order to save the royal family. The Avengers agree, and sure enough, they and Kang are triumphant. True to his word, Kang sends the Avengers back to the 20th century, but as they are dematerializing, they witness Kang’s traitorous general seize a blaster and shoot down Princess Ravonna. Before they can react, the heroes find themselves back at Avengers’ Mansion.

September 1963 – Shortly after returning from the future, Wanda begins to question her attraction to Captain America, trying desperately to talk herself out of it. She does not quite realize it yet, but the abuse she suffered from Magneto has left her with a pathological aversion to sex. Then, she and Pietro are overjoyed when they receive a letter from Latveria purporting to be from a long-lost aunt. Hoping to learn the fate of their gypsy parents, the twins make arrangements to visit the tiny monarchy, located a few hundred miles north of Transia. Immediately upon their arrival in the capital city of Doomstadt, however, Wanda and Pietro, together with Steve Rogers and Clint Barton, are placed under arrest. Realizing they have fallen victim to a cruel trap set by the villainous dictator Doctor Doom, Wanda and Pietro are crushed with disappointment, and Wanda withdraws further into herself. The four Avengers battle Doctor Doom to a standstill in the heart of Castle Doom itself, and are soon on their way back to New York.

A week or so of training at Avengers’ Mansion confirms for Wanda that her mutant hex power is fading. Hoping it is merely due to exhaustion, Wanda does not tell her teammates of her concerns. Also, Wanda decides she could never have a relationship with Captain America, and her crush on him wanes. She also decides to stop wearing the waist-cinching red belt with her costume, giving her outfit a more streamlined look. Then, the Avengers receive a distress call from Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, who has been captured by the undersea marauder Attuma. The Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Captain America storm Attuma’s submarine headquarters, but the Wasp has already escaped. The Avengers have difficulty fighting in the aquatic environment and are captured. Quicksilver is flushed out into the open ocean, and the Scarlet Witch and Captain America are captured, shackled, and imprisoned. They manage to escape as Quicksilver and Hawkeye come to the rescue, and the Avengers defeat Attuma, destroy his headquarters, and return to the surface.

However, once they return to Avengers’ Mansion, the heroes learn from a worried Henry Pym that the Wasp never returned after she let him know that she had escaped from Attuma. Intent on joining the rescue mission, Pym reveals that he is the retired Avenger known as Giant-Man. Wanda produces a new costume for him that she had designed and made, one of a number of men’s costumes she had sewn over the summer as a relaxing hobby. Receiving instructions from the Wasp’s kidnapper, the enigmatic Collector, the five heroes invade the villain’s mountain fortress and rescue the Wasp. During the battle, Wanda realizes her power has become so weak that she can muster only one effective hex. Unfortunately, the Collector and his henchman, the Beetle, escape, and Henry Pym, now calling himself Goliath, collapses into a coma. The Avengers bring him back to the mansion for a medical examination. Pym recovers that night, but is stuck being ten feet tall.

The next evening, Wanda and Pietro receive a distress call from Captain America, who has been captured by the Swordsman and Power Man. Using a Stark Industries homing device, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch drive to a remote mansion on Long Island. They find Cap, only to be taken prisoner themselves. They are soon released by Hawkeye, Goliath, and the Wasp, but Wanda is frightened when she realizes her mutant powers are almost completely gone. She keeps out of the fight, and their enemies, led by the Communist spy called the Black Widow, escape.

Over the next couple of days, Wanda struggles with an agonizing decision, but realizes she has no choice. She reveals to her brother that she has lost her powers and that she must resign from the Avengers. Quicksilver admits that he’s felt his speed diminishing somewhat lately as well, and has the rather superstitious idea that if they return to their native land, their powers may be rejuvenated. Therefore, Wanda and Pietro take an official leave of absence from the Avengers, and are soon on a plane bound for Transia. They remain completely unaware that the true cause of Wanda’s power loss is the demon Chthon, who is hoping to lure her into studying magic. Returning to the tiny village at the foot of Wundagore Mountain where they spent their childhood, Wanda and Pietro are disappointed to learn that their gypsy tribe has long since moved on. They are completely unaware that Django Maximoff is still alive and currently living in distant Vladivostok. They check into the local inn, and the village soon becomes abuzz with the news that two of the world-famous Avengers, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, are vacationing among them.


Notes:

January 1945–August 1949 – The relationship between Wanda and Pietro’s biological parents, Magneto and Magda the Gypsy, is detailed in Classic X-Men #12. Although Anya may seem somewhat older in that story, we’re a bit hemmed in by the fact that Wanda and Pietro can really be born no later than 1950 to have reached puberty in time to join the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in Uncanny X-Men #4. The Whizzer and Miss America’s first baby, who would one day menace the Avengers as Nuklo, the Nuclear Nemesis, is introduced in Giant-Size Avengers #1, which also establishes that there was some connection between the Franks and Wanda & Pietro. Roy Thomas originally intended the Golden Age heroes to be the twins’ true parents, but later creators thought better of it. In Uncanny X-Men #62, Neal Adams showed that Magneto, without his helmet, bears a striking resemblance to Quicksilver, and Uncanny X-Men #125 established that Magda, introduced a month earlier in the pages of Avengers, was Magneto’s late wife, thus confirming that he was the twins’ real father. The characters themselves did not learn of their true relationship until the fourth and final issue of the first Vision and the Scarlet Witch limited series.

March–April 1950 – The birth of Wanda and Pietro was first revealed in flashback in Avengers #186. More detail of the events concerning Chthon and the Knights of Wundagore the night the twins were born was presented in the backup story in Uncanny X-Men Annual #12.

May 1956 – The fateful meeting of Magnus and Charles Xavier was chronicled in Uncanny X-Men #161.

August 1961–July 1962 – The twins’ childhood was shown in flashbacks in Avengers #182 and 185.

October 1962 – Magneto’s attack on Cape Canaveral was featured in Uncanny X-Men #1. His reason for taking over the Air Force base, which was never really made clear, was probably to get materials and technology for Asteroid M. His subsequent meeting with Wanda and Pietro is seen in flashback in Uncanny X-Men #4, with further details provided in Avengers #47. And yes, the twins are only 12 years old at this point, although, like the X-Men, they were originally thought to be somewhat older. I suppose they just look mature for their age, which is not hard to believe in Wanda’s case.

November 1962 – The Scarlet Witch makes her debut in Uncanny X-Men #4. As stated above, Magneto’s sexual abuse is my attempt to explain why she would eventually decide to get married to the android Vision. The fact that Magneto’s use of his mutant powers negatively impacted his own body was introduced in the second story in Classic X-Men #19, and that they were slowly driving him insane was finally explicitly explained in X-Men #2 (Nov. 1991).

December 1962 – The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants battle the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #4–6.

January 1963 – While Magneto has his hands full with Thor, the Scarlet Witch and her villainous teammates battle the X-Men once again in Journey Into Mystery #109, wherein Magneto refers to his team as the “Mutant Brotherhood.” Then, Mastermind tries to force himself on Wanda in Uncanny X-Men #7, which also features the battle with the Blob.

February 1963 – The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver meet the Human Torch and the Thing in Strange Tales #128.

April 1963 – Following the Stranger’s abduction of Magneto and the Toad, Wanda and Pietro finally quit the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in Uncanny X-Men #11.

May 1963 – The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver join the Avengers in Avengers #16 and go on their first mission in the following issue. Wanda meets Thor when he drops by in Journey Into Mystery #120.

June 1963 – The wedding of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Girl was presented in Fantastic Four Annual #3, in which the Scarlet Witch does not actually appear. Her behind-the-scenes presence was assumed until it was finally confirmed in Marvels #2 by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross. As seen in that issue, the anti-mutant riot follows in the wake of the televised debate between Charles Xavier and Bolivar Trask in Uncanny X-Men #14. Later, the Avengers head to North Vietnam—fictionalized as “Sin-Cong” in this story—in Avengers #18.

July 1963 – The Avengers encounter the Swordsman in Avengers #19–20.

August 1963 – The Enchantress and Power Man get the better of Cap’s Kooky Quartet in Avengers #21–22. Robert F. Wagner is not named in the story, but he was mayor of New York at the time. The trip to the future with Kang follows in the next two issues.

September 1963 – The Avengers’ battles with Doctor Doom, Attuma, the Collector, and the treacherous trio of the Black Widow, Swordsman, and Power Man occur in Avengers #25–29. Wanda makes her fateful decision, and she and Pietro begin their leave of absence, at the beginning of Avengers #30.


OMU Note: The final canonical appearance of the Scarlet Witch is in Avengers West Coast #74.




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