Perfect 10 is a series of essential recommendations that fully encapsulate a comic character – 10 desert island picks of runs, single issues, arcs, etc – curated by Comfort Food Comics.
- Scarlet Witch Vol. 1 #1-4: By Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, John Higgins, Mark McKenna, Kev Somers & Jim Novak. I love this one. DnA before they were cosmic Marvel all stars back in 1994. Hot take: DnA are Wanda’s best writers. This is the 2000 A.D. Scarlet Witch story. This is the dimensional magic D&D campaign with Wanda as the protagonist. This is the isekai manga starring Scarlet Witch and monstrously transformed members of the West Coast Avengers. Most of this one deals with the magic horror aspect of Wanda’s life which I still think is so vastly underdeveloped and DnA really try to realize some of that potential. Wanda learns she is a nexus being, an entity unique to their own dimensions that represent a certain type of magic, in her case Hex magic. Wanda has to go up against another dimension’s nexus being, Lore with the power of necromancy who, very deliberately, looks like Wanda and acts as a dark mirror of what she could be with her power unchecked. With Master Pandemonium as her servant she transforms the West Coast Avengers into fantasy monsters and plunges the Witch’s world into chaotic darkness. Lore attempts to destroy this reality like she has countless others but Wanda’s unique probability hex powers allows her the unique privilege of actually being able to hurt Lore and stop her once and for all. In actuality it’s DnA allowing Wanda to attack her baggage and past and allow her to move on mentally as a better character. This one is great for if you like Wanda knee deep in magical stuff instead of typical superhero or mutant adventures.
2. Avengers #185-187: By Mark Greunwald, Steven Grant, David Michelinie, John Byrne, Dan Green, Roger Slifer, John Costanza, Jim Novak & George Roussos. A very weird Avengers epic that ranks as one of my alltime favorite Earth’s Mightiest Heroes tales. This one essentially retcons the fact that The Whizzer was Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s father while establishing all of their usual origin with the High Evolutionary, Bova, a woman named Magda as well as the connection between the Elder God Chthon and Wanda. Modred the Mystic attacks Scarlet Witch on Wundagore Mountain which allows Chthon to possess Wanda. The rest of the story is most of the Avengers trying to figure out how to beat an Elder God powered Scarlet Witch, intent on destroying them and the world. We get a lot of development of the Darkhold and greater ties to the magic corners of the Marvel Universe as well, all centered around Wanda as the main link here. It’s everything a comic fan should eat up. Copious retcons and obscure references as three different creators try to iron out continuity and expand so much of the Marvel Universe lore all drawn by John Byrne, who is an awful person, but a very talented artist who numbers among the best for Wanda. This is the definitive journey into Wanda’s messy history.
3. Scarlet Witch Vol. 2 #1-15: By James Robinson, Vanesa Del Rey, Marco Rudy, Tula Lotay, Marguerite Sauvage, Annie Wu, Joelle Jones, Cory Petit & MANY more. This was Wanda’s first ongoing and it was a true delight. The focus of this book is on Wanda as a person and as a witch. This is the book about forward momentum and moving on. Most of it is spent with her as an occult detective a la John Constantine trying to repair witchcraft and find out her true origins. The best part about this series though is it finally gives her agency. She tells off her brother Pietro. She throws off the character assassination of House of M. She foregoes Avengers missions to focus on her life and her mental health. This is the absolute best comic for Wanda as a strong relatable woman finally having a handle on the insanity of her life. Rather than dwell on all the past stories that dominate the character, this gives us something new and fresh. It’s also by far the best comic for when you want Wanda involved in the magic world. Almost each issue could be considered it’s own episode of a larger overarching season, with just about every issue done by different artists so it’s a visual cornucopia as well. Just a really well planned and constructed series with wonderful characterization that tries it’s damndest to let Scarlet Witch do new things.
4. “Switch Witch” from Marvel Fanfare #6: By Mike Barr, Sandy Plunkett, P. Craig Russell, Petra Scotese & Jim Novak. Following up on a Marvel Team-Up issue, the evil sorcerer Xandu is out to get Spider-Man as well as revive his deceased lover/assistant Melinda. To do this, he uses the wand of Watoomb to steal the Scarlet Witch away and use her body as a soulless servant to eventually house Melinda’s revived soul, while placing Wanda’s soul in Melinda’s powerless body. It’s a good old case of body swapping!! Spidey is tricked into coming to Xandu’s dimension by the possessed body of Scarlet Witch and all manner of hijinx ensue as he teams with Wanda in Melinda’s body to combat Xandu. It’s all a big Freaky Friday story in a trippy magic dimension. The huge draw here is master P. Craig Russell inking Plunkett’s breakdowns. It’s some of the greatest comic art you’ll ever come across. Magic dimensions, Spidey and Wanda have rarely looked better than they do here.
5. Avengers – No Road Home : By Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub, Paco Medina, Sean Izaaske, Carlo Barberi & Many more. This is one of the greatest Avengers stories of all time but the reason it’s on this list is for the exceptional diversion the Scarlet Witch takes in the middle to the Hyborian Age with Conan the Barbarian. Wanda features as a prominent member of this ensemble story but she and Conan take the spotlight in Issue #6 as they team up and it’s as awesome as it sounds. All the Savage Sword action you could ever want but with the Scarlet Witch as a main character too. There’s even a little bit of romance between the two. It’s everything you’d expect with Wanda going to that setting and interacting with old Conan. She more than holds her own and is such a cool part of this whole grand story, not getting lost next to the appearance of Conan. They give her the proper respect and showcase she deserves.
6. “A Buddy In Scarlet” & “Marvel Witch” from X-Men First Class Vol. 2 #3 & 6: By Jeff Parker, Colleen Coover. Wanda has never been more adorable or charming as she is in these X-Men backup stories. These are meant to be set way back when Scarlet Witch first met the original five X-Men and was finding a better way in life. Parker gives her a cute accent and a silly naivete when it comes to modern western culture. To get over all this she hangs out with Jean Grey and they have delightful little outings and adventures foiling crime together. These are short and sweet but they really display Wanda’s definitive characterization as being a strong girl that cares so much dealing with an awful lot. You won’t find very many comics that are more entertaining or well made than these.
7. Force Works #1-15: By Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Tom Tenney, Dave Taylor, Jim Calafiore, Jim Cheung & many more. A lot of people will tell you Force Works is bad. I am here to set you straight. It’s not perfect but it’s good, it’s REAL GOOD! The art isn’t for everybody but DnA go HARD with new fresh ideas. This book is legitimately ahead of it’s time and I feel like a lot of the more famous comics of the 2000’s, the ones in the vein of The Authority, where a team of heroes tries to be a bit more pragmatic and handle things in a more proactive way, owes their existence to this book. Remember how I told you above that DnA are the best writers Wanda has ever had. Well this solidifies it. This book starts with Wonder Man dying instead of the Scarlet Witch in a refreshing twist of the loved one dies motivation trope. This was 1994 by the way. We then see the first and only time Scarlet Witch has led a team as she takes the mantle of leadership. Iron Man builds a machine called the Chaos computer that takes incoming information and harnesses Wanda’s probability hex powers to preemptively warn the team of upcoming major disasters so they can stop it before it ever happens. But it’s not just the imaginative and important use of her powers that makes this an alltime book for Wanda, it’s her amazing characterization as the team leader. While most teams like this tend to go grim or gritty with an uncaring leader, Wanda stays strong and shows her dedication to caring TOO MUCH about others as she makes the tough decisions in and out of the field. It’s progressive strong and smart material with Wanda as the main focus. Don’t believe the jokes, READ FORCE WORKS!
8. Vision and the Scarlet Witch Vol 2 (#1, West Coast Avengers Vol 2 #2, #2-12): By Steve Englehart, Richard Howell & many more. The CBS Sitcom of a year in the life of married couple Vizh & Wanda. I love this one because it’s charming, stupid fun in that zany Englehart manner. You get a veritable tour of the entire Marvel Universe all filtered through the life of the superhero couple as they are expecting children. Englehart has always been one of Wanda’s best writers. He tends to write her in a way where she is a self assured, strong confident woman who will take absolutely no shit from anyone and I respect that in old superhero comics. It’s not always perfect and is oft times corny but he attempts to write her in an empowering way. Another thing you can pick up on with his writing in this series is injecting some real life wiccan energy into Wanda celebrating pagan holidays and bringing up various terms or practices relating to it all. Englehart may not always write the best stuff, but you can feel the huge amount of effort he puts into every page. You get a very human Wanda, warts and all in a comic that tries to present them as an ordinary couple in the insane world they live in. My favorite issue is the quiet Thanksgiving dinner they try to throw wherein the guests of Namor, Captain America, Quicksilver, the Wasp, Dr. Strange, Crystal and more are very put off by Magneto also attending. This book is superhero hyperrealism at it’s charming finest.
9. Avengers #234: By Roger Stern, Al Milgrom, Joe Sinnott, Christie Scheele & Jim Novak. Roger Stern is the greatest avengers writer ever. Naturally, he’s also a very good writer for Wanda. I want to suggest everyone go read the entire run he does on Avengers because he does a lot of good character work and memorable moments with Wanda throughout but this is the standout issue that is just for her. Coming back to the team when Vision is hurt, the other members ask her to recount her history to new teammate Captain Marvel, and we get a really great recap of her entire life and all the various retcons and insanity she’s had to deal with. Stern does it in a very entertaining way and I appreciate him devoting almost an entire issue to let Wanda just talk about who she is and what she feels. (Note: GO READ ROGER STERN’S AVENGERS RUN) (Double Note: This story continues into Doctor Strange Vol 2 #60, which is good, but Wanda only partly factors into it and she soon drops out of the plot of the continuing story)
10. Avengers Vol. 3 #10-11: By Kurt Busiek, George Perez, Al Vey, Bob Wiacek, Tom Smith & Richard Starkings. Much like the last selection, Busiek is one of the alltime best Avengers writers and you should read his entire lengthy run as it’s absolutely CHOCK-FULL of great Scarlet Witch characterization, development and moments. But just like the Stern run, she is very much part of a huge ensemble cast that rotates focus arc to arc. In my mind this story always stands out as Wanda’s story for this run. A lot of it is the Grim Reaper and his Legion of the Unliving attacking the avengers but Wanda shines through as the main character as we see her visit her old mentor Agatha Harkness and reflect on her past and her powers as she discusses what she must do to bring back Wonder Man permanently. All of this wraps back around to the Legion of Unliving attack as Wonder Man gets conscripted into that. Wanda, through her own strong will of character does enough to stop the machinations of the Reaper and uses her powers to help bring Wonder Man back permanently and stop the Legion of Unliving. It’s an awesome highlight of Wanda’s powers as well as her tough as nails motivation and personality. She almost singlehandedly wins this one just by being that fucking cool. (Note: Just read all of Busiek’s Avengers. Wanda is a HUGE part of it and it’s just so enjoyable.)