SCARLET WITCH: Page 11 of 12

BIOGRAPHY - part 11

worlds lived and worlds died, and the Scarlet Witch chose to move on from the Unity Division. With so much of her past brought into question, Wanda reconnected with her training in witchcraft to find balance in her life. Mutant or Evolutionary-engineered mutate, Wanda’s powers still gave her a natural connection to magic, and she returned to her studies of the arcane. As she established a private apartment in Manhattan, Wanda communed with the spirit of Agatha Harkness, who remained her mentor despite Wanda being responsible for her death.  Although her witch’s magic improved with study, all magic had its price and Wanda began to feel its toll – her soul started to age prematurely, invisible to the human eye, but apparent to Wanda in mirrors. This seemed to represent Wanda’s own ebbing lifeline, for she was destined to die young with the life she lived. When she fought off a Sonneillon hate curse afflicting the city, though, the Scarlet Witch detected it was more than just her own magic that was ailing. Witchcraft itself was being menaced by some outside force, and it fell upon her to learn what was tampering with her chosen craft. [Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #1]

In her quest, the Scarlet Witch sought out Hekate, living in retirement on the Greek island of Santorini. The Goddess of Witches couldn’t provide Wanda with any answers, but she was on the right track. A low-level super-villain called Man-Bull was enchanted into a new Minotaur and attacked the island community. [Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #2] Next came a blight consuming Ireland, a magical plague making all the land of the Emerald Isle unfit for farming, mining or raising animals. Wanda located the center point of the spell and prepared to cast a healing hex to cancel out the dark enchantment. She was assaulted by the Sluagh (ghostly sinners who ride at night), but managed to defend herself and finish her hex, ending the blight. It became clearer than ever to Scarlet Witch that something (or someone) was deliberately targeting witchcraft, and fighting against her efforts to reverse it. To find the source, Wanda chose to travel the Witches’ Road with Agatha. [Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #3]

The Witches’ Road was a representational reality, born of magic and fate, accessible only to those who followed the craft. Walking those murky woods, Wanda encountered the last person she ever expected… the previous Scarlet Witch titleholder, her birth mother, Natalya Maximoff. Natalya had emerged from the past on the Road to aid Wanda in her quest, raising the questions about her origins Wanda had ignored since Counter-Earth. They only had a short time together before Natalya defeated an Irish Phooka monster (summoned to the Witches’ Road by a time-lost spell that only someone from another time could best) and faded back to her true era. Agatha confirmed she had known all along about Wanda’s true mother and had been blocked by fate from telling her. It startled Wanda that she had a greater connection to witchcraft in her family than she realized, that even the name “Scarlet Witch” she thought she had dreamed up had come from her own forgotten history.

Further down the Witches’ Road, Wanda and Agatha encountered Declan Dane, the Emerald Warlock and an old acquaintance of Agatha’s. Dane hailed from an ancient family of wizards in Ireland who were exiled by a rival coven calling themselves the Tuatha de Danaan. The nature of the banishment spell held that the Emerald Warlock couldn’t return to Ireland until the Tuatha and all their descendants died out, keeping him busy for centuries hunting down their seed. Dane stole power from others of the craft before finally wiping out all the bloodlines.

The plague was his way of seeking revenge on the land of Ireland for allowing his banishment in the first place. With the power available to him on the Road, the Emerald Warlock tried to kill the Scarlet Witch by rushing her destiny and aging her to death while sapping her power. Wanda outmaneuvered Declan, though, and cast an illusion to hide that she had reversed his spell and was draining him instead. Unable to finish his work, the Emerald Warlock fled the Witches’ Road, but promised the Scarlet Witch she had made an archenemy for herself now. [Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #4]

The Scarlet Witch remained active in the supernatural community. She frequently visited the Bar With No Doors and was among those assembled by Doctor Strange regularly to discuss the state of magical affairs. [Doctor Strange (4th series) #1] When the Emirikul ushered in the last days of magic, Wanda fought alongside Strange and many depowered mages until the science inquisition was defeated. [Doctor Strange (4th series) #6-10] She and her associates aided Magik in transporting the X-Mansion to Limbo, where it could act as a safe haven for mutant refugees running in fear of the Terrigen Mists and M-Pox (a small act of penance on Wanda’s part towards the greater guilt she still felt towards the mutant race). [Extraordinary X-Men #8]

Wanda also made time for her extended family. She met with Wiccan and encouraged him to practice the craft, adding true magic to his reality-warping powers if that’s what he wanted. She also oh so subtly hinted towards him and his fiancé Hulkling finally making plans for their wedding. [New Avengers (4th series) #11-12, Civil War II #1] Things weren’t as smooth with the Vision, though. His emotional subroutines had started acting up, and so Vision took the extreme step of deleting his emotional link to his past memories. Wanda was forced to watch as their connection died in his eyes right in front of her. [Avengers #0] Vision still desired a family, though, and finally used the brain wave patterns Wanda had gifted to him years ago when she was happy with Simon. He created a wife, Virginia, based on Wanda’s template, and children named Viv and Vin extrapolated from the two of them. [Vision (3rd series) #1]

Virginia inherited Wanda’s inherent mental instability, however, and was haunted by the ghost of memories from Wanda’s brain wave patterns. She killed the Grim Reaper in defense of her family and tried to hide his body, but was blackmailed by a neighbor. Virginia’s confrontation with the neighbor led to the accidental death of his son and Virginia putting the man in a coma. The Avengers used Vision’s brother Victor Mancha to spy on the family’s suspicious behavior, which only ended up causing Vin’s accidental death at Victor’s hands. A furious Vision was prepared to kill all the Avengers standing between him and killing Victor, even Wanda. In the end, though, Virginia killed Victor so Vision didn’t have to, then committed suicide. She left behind a confession claiming she altered her husband’s programming, removing his responsibility for the events so he could remain a hero and father to their daughter after she was gone. Wanda knew all of this because of her own foretelling of the future, and shared what information and comfort she could with Viv Vision. [Vision (3rd series) #11-12]

The Scarlet Witch continued with her own pursuits as well, cleansing a vineyard of wrongfully accused spirits, helping Peregrine of France reconnect with his dead wife’s spirit and fighting the Dark Tongji of the Hong Kong underworld alongside the Wu. [Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #5-7] In her downtime, Wanda also met weekly with a psychiatrist named Roland Grand in an effort to work through some of her problems. She confided in him how she was engineered by the High Evolutionary, had recently met the spirit of her real mother Natalya Maximoff and her quest to discover the root of the problems with witchcraft. Wanda complained a bit about how Agatha was holding back information from her about her true mother, and how Pietro and even the Avengers often tried to protect her as well, and hold her back from looking after herself.

Doctor Grand confronted Wanda about this assumption. Wanda had left the Avengers months ago, deliberately choosing to make her own way in the world. Despite this independence, she had held back from truly investigating her connection to Natalya. Drawing from their past sessions, Doctor Grand also pointed out her distant relationship with the twins, Wiccan and Speed, and how she had stopped actively following up with Rogue about extracting Simon from her mind. While the “mission to save witchcraft” may have seemed proactive at first, it was also an excuse Wanda was using to avoid other matters in her life she was scared to act upon. In the past, people might have been overprotective of her, but perhaps Wanda welcomed their interference as an excuse to avoid making tough decisions, and was now artificially recreating that interference. The Scarlet Witch appreciated this breakthrough Grand helped her achieve, so much that she felt a little bad revealing she knew he was actually the criminal hypnotist the Ringmaster trying to lure her into a scheme. [Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #8]

Before she could leave for eastern Europe to pick up her mother’s old trail, however, Wanda was accosted by Pietro. A new civil war had begun in the super-hero community between Iron Man and Captain Marvel over a NuHuman and his gift for predictive justice, and Quicksilver wanted to recruit the Scarlet Witch for Tony’s side. The arrogant and impatient Pietro expected Wanda to fall in line behind him, and refused to even listen to her discoveries about their mother. When Pietro slowed down enough to actually explain the stakes to Wanda, she also found she agreed with Carol. Augers and oracles were common in witchcraft, after all. Pietro started to lash out, and soon the twins were unearthing old grievances against each other, from the House of M all the way back to their childhood. The argument turned violent and Wanda dismissed Pietro from her home and her life. [Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #9]

In Serbia, Wanda picked up the trail of her mother and learned the circumstances that first led the High Evolutionary to her. She met Dasha Kolarov, a friend of her mother’s, and was astonished to learn Marya Maximoff had survived the burning of their wagon years ago, just before she and Pietro fled. Wanda was overjoyed to be reunited with her aunt, the woman she called mother as a child. Their talk was interrupted when witch-demons possessed Marya and Dasha, but the arriving Agatha Harkness helped Wanda cast a spell of exorcism. While her spirit was open to the experience, the ghost of Natalya possessed Marya for a moment to greet her daughter in person. Natalya directed Wanda back to the Witches’ Road in her quest to save witchcraft and, as a parting gift, removed the burns Marya had suffered from the wagon fire long ago. The Scarlet Witch and Agatha Harkness prepared themselves for the final confrontation on the Witches’ Road. [Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #11-12]

Wanda and Agatha spent weeks traveling on the Witches’ Road. The cause of witchcraft’s sickness hampered them along the way with trials and threats to force Wanda into using her magic, making her soul’s lifespan waste away. They eventually located Natalya, who finally explained that it was Chaos itself afflicting witchcraft. The embodiments of Chaos and Witchcraft had always existed in harmony, flaunting the science and laws of men, but now Chaos wanted to be ascendant over the craft. The three witches – Mother, Maiden, Crone – moved beyond the Road itself deeper into the dimension of the goddess of Witchcraft. Chaos’ Aimless Ones accosted Natalya and Agatha, while Wanda moved past them to confront Chaos itself.

The Scarlet Witch could not defeat Chaos on her own, or even once Agatha and Natalya joined her. The three witches rallied to form the Witches Three, a sacred binding of their powers together to attack as one, not as separate parts. This formation turned the tide, and Natalya accelerated their victory with a summoning hex that brought Quicksilver to their side. Pietro’s kinetic speed created a vortex that contained their hexes of order around Chaos, hastening his end. Wanda and Pietro reconciled in this moment, and Pietro earned a brief exchange with their mother before returning from whence he came. Although the Goddess was freed from Chaos’ sickness, she was not healed. To put her and the craft back on the right path, a sacrifice was needed and Natalya volunteered her own wayward soul. With a good-bye to her daughter, Natalya bonded with Witchcraft, sending Wanda and Agatha back to Earth. Moreover, the power of the Goddess restored Agatha to life and reset Wanda’s lifespan and the cost her witchcraft placed on her aging soul. [Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #13-14]

With the sickness afflicting witchcraft dealt with, Scarlet Witch began tying up loose ends. She and Agatha parted on good terms now that her mentor was alive again, although Wanda was suspicious Agatha still knew more about her unnamed father and her past than she said. Wanda conducted another exorcism and recognized the signs that the Emerald Warlock was active again, stealing power through bloodlines. Ultimately, though, Wanda found she had done enough to prove to herself she could stand on her own, and she was ready to reunite with her past comrades. The Scarlet Witch was ready to rejoin the Avengers. [Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #15]

Tragically, she did. Steve Rogers was revealed to be an imposter, a loyal Hydra operative from another timeline who had replaced the familiar Captain America. He wormed himself into the role of Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and instigated a series of crises that led the government to activate the Emergency Powers Act, ceding control of the country to him. Revealing his true colors, Rogers claimed the role of Hydra Supreme, imprisoning most of New York’s heroes behind a Darkforce dome before moving on to claim Washington D.C. Scarlet Witch and the remaining heroes opposed Rogers and Hydra in Washington, but the Captain’s Madame Hydra was a sorceress who was prepared for Wanda. Having arranged a pact with the Elder God, Madame Hydra opened the door for Chthon to possess Wanda, turning her against the heroes.

Hydra took control of America, imposing their will on the people. The possessed Scarlet Witch was recruited into Hydra’s Avengers, “heroes” of the fascist order under Rogers’ command. As before, an Elder God like Chthon could not fully inhabit Wanda’s soul – he only released her inner darkness guided by his commands. Chthon appreciated the chaos Hydra was sowing, and freely donated Wanda’s services to their cause. A computer virus had also reprogrammed Vision with Hydra’s influence, adding him to their Avengers. Disturbingly, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch renewed their romance while under the influence of outside forces. Wanda killed many people under the influence of Hydra, feeding Chthon’s desires for worship and power. In the final battle, Doctor Strange was released from the Darkforce dome and crafted an exorcism that restored the Scarlet Witch to her senses. [Secret Empire event]