Wanda Maximoff became one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's most compelling lead characters in Disney Plus' WandaVision streaming series, which also set the stage for the current Multiverse-centric phase of the MCU.
In the original comic books, Scarlet Witch has been making waves in Marvel continuity for decades, both in her many years as one of the core members of the Avengers, and in her own solo adventures. In some ways, Wanda and her family tree have quietly taken root as the backbone of Marvel Comics' entire universe.
In the years since her debut in 1964's X-Men #4, Wanda has become one of the unsung building blocks of Marvel Comics, with her stories and relationships changing the nature of the Marvel Universe itself more than once.
If you're hungry for more Scarlet Witch after her star turn in WandaVision, ahead of her MCU return in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, this is the perfect time to read up on the best Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch comic book stories ever.
10. Giant-Size Avengers #4
People who know Wanda Maximoff through WandaVision undoubtedly understand how important the relationship of Scarlet Witch and Vision is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But their romance has had as much impact on the legacy of the Avengers and the Marvel Universe in comic books as it has on the MCU - if not even more.
Though their love began as what writer Roy Thomas once described as a "relationship of convenience" between a vulnerable young woman and an emotionally developing android, the courtship of Wanda and Vision quickly blossomed into the central soap opera of many late '60s and '70s Avengers comic books.
It all culminated in 1975's Giant-Size Avengers #4, written by Steve Englehart who would go on to write more Wanda and Vision comics (maybe a hint at some of the entries to come?), in which Vision and Scarlet Witch officially tie the knot - solidifying what may be the first sanctioned marriage between a witch and a robot in comic books.
Things aren't all hunky-dory though. Before they can be wed, Vision has to rescue Wanda from the realm of the dread Dormammu. And then their wedding - performed by none other than Immortus, one of Kang's many variants and part of the basis for the MCU adaptation of He Who Remains - is crashed by Kang himself.
Something tells us this may be a comic to start scouring the back issue bins for...
9. West Coast Avengers: Darker Than Scarlet
Following the events of the 1985-86 Vision and Scarlet Witch limited series (more on that later… hint hint) in which Wanda gives birth to her magically conceived twin sons William and Thomas, Avengers West Coast: Darker Than Scarlet brings about the first major downfall of Wanda Maximoff's time as an Avenger.
Just before 'Darker Than Scarlet,' another story, 'Visionquest,' put the greatest strain on Vision and Scarlet Witch's relationship yet, with Vision being subverted by an evil AI before being destroyed and rebuilt as an emotionless shell, effectively ending their relationship.
In the wake of Vision's destruction and rebuilding, Wanda and Vision's sons William and Thomas are revealed not to be human children at all but magical constructs created through the power of Mephisto. All of this coupled with years of manipulation by Immortus leads Wanda to have a psychological breakdown in which she turns against her team, channeling the same dark power that created her children.
Fortunately, the Avengers are able to rescue Wanda from the brink of madness and turn her back to the side of the heroes - but not before the first major crack in Wanda's heroism is revealed, setting the stage for her full-on villain turn in Avengers: Disassembled (more on that soon as well… keep reading).
8. Avengers #161
Thanks to her romance with the Vision, Wanda Maximoff has often run personally afoul of Ultron, the evil AI that created her synthezoid paramour. Over the years, Ultron has challenged the Avengers time and time again - but in many of his earliest attacks on the team, it was Wanda who was most instrumental in defeating him.
Case in point, Avengers #161. In this story, Ultron attacks and very nearly subdues the Avengers thanks to his nigh-indestructible body and his computer brain's ability to outthink and outmaneuver the Avengers' powers and strategies. All except for Wanda, that is.
In the issue's climactic scene, Wanda reaches out with her hex power, partially in desperation and partially in rage at what Ultron has done to her teammates, gripping the mad android in her random probability-altering abilities. Unable to compensate for the seemingly random nature of her powers, Ultron's system shuts down and the Avengers are saved.
Avengers #161 represents a significant upgrade in Scarlet Witch's powers and starts to solidify her place as one of the Avengers' big guns - to the point where Ultron's future attempts to destroy the Avengers almost always began with trying to take Wanda down before she could stop him.
7. Avengers: Disassembled/House of M
Call this Wanda Maximoff's 'Dark Phoenix' moment, if you will.
Following years of psychological manipulation by villains ranging from Immortus to Mephisto, to her own adoptive father Magneto, coupled with the deaths of her magically created twin sons, her estrangement from her husband Vision, and the stress of her increasing power levels, Wanda loses control and launches a reality-bending magical attack on the Avengers - even killing Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Hawkeye (Clint Barton), and Vision - in the story Avengers: Disassembled.
Things only escalate from there. As Wanda's responsibility for the attack is revealed, she warps reality itself around her to create the world known as House of M, where her adoptive father Magneto rules a dynasty of mutants, who are seen as superior to humans. But when the House of M reality comes crashing down, Wanda rejects mutantkind entirely, casting a simple spell - "No more mutants" - that wiped out the powers of all but 198 mutants, decimating their numbers entirely for years.
As with Jean Grey's villainous turn in 'The Dark Phoenix Saga,' Scarlet Witch's misdeeds have colored her legacy ever since - though without as much of the subsequent redemption and rejuvenation Jean has enjoyed.
Still, Avengers: Disassembled and House of M represent a cataclysmic one-two-punch in Wanda's history, telling a story that is almost as impactful as any that have ever been told with Scarlet Witch.
6. Avengers Origins: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver
Much like in the MCU, the comic book Wanda Maximoff began her career as the Scarlet Witch as a villain alongside her brother Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver, challenging the X-Men as part of their adoptive father Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. But Wanda and Pietro quickly defected from their villainous ways, joining the Avengers when many of the team's original members quit or went on hiatus.
In comic books, Wanda and Pietro's time as villains was short-lived, and their prior history wasn't largely explored until years later, through glimpses and scattered stories. But 2011's Avengers Origins: Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver takes a deeper dive into the histories of the titular heroes, showing their past and the lead-up to their time with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in a way that wasn't previously told on the page.
Wanda and Pietro's history is one of the most unlikely backbones of the Marvel Universe, with their simple origins growing from a throughline between the X-Men and Avengers to the saga of a family tree that has branches throughout Marvel Comics, and Avengers Origins: Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver presents a concise and engaging take on their earliest days.
5. Avengers: Nights of Wundagore
Wanda Maximoff's powers started out as a strange but fairly simple mutant ability to alter the probability of events around her in her favor, often in the least likely of ways. But over the years, her powers have evolved past her flair for chance to truly living up to her codename as the Scarlet Witch, with a mastery of the Marvel Comics version of 'Chaos Magic.'
Wanda's ascent to greater magical power took a huge leap forward in the story Avengers: Nights of Wundagore, which digs deep into Scarlet Witch's birth on the mystical Mount Wundagore, a liminal place inhabited by many strange beings, including the mad scientist the High Evolutionary, whose experiments are later revealed to be the actual source of Wanda's abilities, rather than a mutant X-gene.
Returning to Wundagore, Wanda learns of her connection to the ancient chaos deity Chthon, who imbued Wanda with a portion of his magic when her birth brought his attention to her probability-altering chaos powers.
Tying Wanda inextricably to the Darkhold, the same tome of evil magical power seen in WandaVision, Chthon and his servant Mordred cast a ritual on Wundagore to use Wanda's body as a conduit to bring Chthon to Earth - turning her against her teammates, though without her knowledge or will.
Wanda is eventually rescued, and using her sudden increase in magical potential, manages to defeat Chthon. 'Nights of Wundagore' is more than just a great, simple Avengers story, it's a critical moment in Wanda's history that has led to a whole corner of the Marvel Universe springing up around the Darkhold. Wanda will encounter the cursed book again in an upcoming event story titled simply Darkhold.
This is also the story that led to Wanda coming under the tutelage of Agatha Harkness, another major moment in her life.
4. Vision and Scarlet Witch (Vol. 2)
We hinted that you'd read more about Steve Englehart's work on this list, and now the foreshadowing has come to pass (this is how you know we're great writers). Around his time writing the pair in Avengers, Englehart penned a 12-issue Vision and Scarlet Witch limited series that took Vision and Wanda solo and defined many of the modern elements of their romance, and their individual identities.
Collected in Vision and Scarlet Witch: The Saga of Wanda and Vision (which also includes the pair's preceding 4-issue limited series and a few other key issues, including the aforementioned Giant-Size Avengers #4), Englehart's Vision and Scarlet Witch confronted the pair's respective family trees, including Vision's creator Ultron and 'brothers' Simon Williams/Wonder Man, whose brain patterns formed the basis of Vision's original personality, and Eric Williams/Grim reaper.
Secrets about Vision's past are revealed alongside the escalation of Wanda's magical power, ultimately culminating in Wanda's magically induced pregnancy, and the birth of Vision and Wanda's twin sons William and Thomas.
If there's one key comic book story that forms the basis of WandaVision, and which marks the central turning point of the lives of Wanda Maximoff and Vision, this is it.
3. Avengers: Assemble Vol. 1
Many of Wanda Maximoff's greatest adventures have been told in the pages of Avengers, and Kurt Busiek and George Perez's Avengers title, particularly the first 11 issues collected in Avengers: Assemble Vol. 1, may represent the pinnacle of Wanda's time with Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Busiek and Perez's Avengers followed the team's return from a pocket universe, and the initial arc wasted no time getting back to the team's business as usual. Kidnapping Wanda and tapping into her powers of chaos magic and reality manipulation, the villainous Morgan Le Fay transports every Avenger ever to that point into a Medieval world of her own making.
Wanda's power allows her to summon the spirit of Wonder Man, who had been dead for some time, allowing the Avengers to escape. Just a few issues later, under the guidance of Agatha Harkness, Wanda finally opens the door to her full potential as the Scarlet Witch, fully resurrecting Wonder Man back into true physical form.
The story is a perfect showcase not just of Wanda's place as the heart and soul of the Avengers for many years, but of the level of power she commands.
2. Avengers: The Children's Crusade
Wanda Maximoff's fall from grace in Avengers: Disassembled and House of M has never truly been reckoned with, even though most of her misdeeds, from killing Vision, Hawkeye, and Ant-Man, to eradicating the X-gene of most of mutantkind have since been undone. She hasn't even fully rejoined the Avengers, with her recent stints alongside the team marred by tension over her previous actions.
In fact, in all likelihood, her "No more mutants" spell is one of the direct motives for Scarlet Witch being murdered on Krakoa, leading to the upcoming Trial of Magneto limited series.
But Wanda's biggest redemption came in Avengers: The Children's Crusade, in which Young Avengers Wiccan and Speed - two young mutants who are the reborn souls of Wanda's sons Billy and Tommy - set out to find their mother, missing since the end of House of M.
In what ultimately amounts to a heartbreaking but beautifully crafted story, Billy and Tommy and their allies in the Young Avengers do indeed track down the Scarlet Witch, only to discover that she is in the clutches of Doctor Doom - who reveals he is behind many of the traumatic turns in Wanda's life as part of a plan to steal her reality-altering probability powers.
The Young Avengers rescue Wanda, but at the cost of Stature/Cassie Lang, whose life is essentially traded for that of her father Ant-Man/Scott Lang (they're both currently alive and well). While many fans may be awaiting a true redemption for the Scarlet Witch for some time to come, Young Avengers: The Children's Crusade represents Marvel's most substantial effort to put the pieces of her story back together.
1. Scarlet Witch by James Robinson
Despite being one of the most important members of the Avengers for decades, Wanda Maximoff has rarely taken a solo spotlight in comic books. However, one of her few solo titles from over the years is also perhaps the definitive story of Wanda Maximoff - away from the manipulation and abuse of others, using her power on her own terms.
James Robinson's Scarlet Witch kicked off in 2016, running for 15 issues (all collected in The Complete Scarlet Witch by James Robinson, along with follow-up one-shot Doctor Strange: The Last Days of Magic #1) follows Wanda on a quest around the Marvel Universe to repair her specific type of magic, defined as both Chaos Magic and "Witchcraft" in the story.
With each issue drawn by a different artist catered to the particular mythical nature of the story at hand, Scarlet Witch is an atmospheric, occult jaunt around the Marvel Universe told through a series of done-in-one tales that all build on each other.
Scarlet Witch by James Robinson represents one of the most intricate explorations of Wanda Maximoff as her own person, defined not by how others have manipulated her, but by how she manipulates reality itself through her own power.
Along with the often experimental and always engaging roster of artists and enough Marvel Comics history to hook new fans - but not so much inside information as to alienate casual readers - this title represents one of the best possible jumping on points for Scarlet Witch's comic book adventures.