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Scarlet Witch of the Avengers (Early version) (Marvel Comics)

Scarlet Witch

(Profile #1 - early)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This profile covers the early appearances of the Scarlet Witch up to Avengers volume 1, #44.

This issue was chosen as the breakpoint because the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver underwent notable changes in their previously established history and personality beginning with issue #45 that culminated with their rejoining Magneto (See “The Inexplicability of History” below for details).

Thus, Avengers #45 not only makes for a useful historical benchmark but also a metafictional one — it could be argued that neither character was the same character that had been previously depicted.

Because of these issues and to focus on the characters as depicted at the time in question, this profile has been developed with an emergent history approach.

In other words, it is based solely on appearances and data available at the time covered by the writeup itself and thus ignores later revelations such as the true parentage of Wanda and Pietro with the exception of issues discussed in the “Inexplicability” section below.


Background

  • Real Name: Wanda (Last Name Unrevealed)
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Pietro a.k.a. Quicksilver (brother)
  • Group Affiliation: Avengers, formerly the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
  • Base Of Operations: Avengers Mansion in NYC, formerly mobile
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 132 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Auburn


Powers and Abilities

By pointing a finger the Scarlet Witch could unleash her “hexes,” which caused inanimate objects to suffer damage as if they had been hit by an invisible blow.

At first these effects were fairly blunt, causing walls to shatter or circuitry to explode. Wanda quickly learned to be more subtle in her applications when desired, such as shutting down machinery by disabling internal components with no external sign of damage.

The Witch’s hexes had the same raw power as the X-Men’s Cyclops’s optic blasts did at that time, though their more limited applications and accuracy kept them from having the same broad utility as Cyclops’s power.

Wanda’s hexes were much less effective against living beings. While she could cause stone walls to crumble with a gesture, her best efforts against living targets did nothing more than knock them over or push them a few feet.

This appears to be an inherent limitation of her powers rather than a personal choice or subconscious restriction, as she did on occasion unleash hexes against inanimate objects with the calculated intent of inflicting serious collateral harm on people nearby. This would seem to be unnecessarily circuitous if she was capable of directly inflicting powerful attacks on them.

In fact, when the Scarlet Witch did use her hexes directly on a living person, it was at least on some occasions done as a deliberate attempt to stop them without risk of serious injury.

(While the Scarlet Witch’s hexes were depicted as only being capable of breaking things during the time period in question, there was one story that was an exception. In Strange Tales #128, Wanda used her hexes to cause a fire hose to entangle 2 security guards and later triggered a brief squall from storm clouds passing over the Baxter Building. These can be treated as Trick Powers based on her Energy Blast as well as precursors of the broader applications of her abilities that would appear in her later history.)

For a technical discussion of the evolution of Wanda’s abilities, see the “Developing Hexpertise” section in the Game Stats.


History

The Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver were mutants who grew up in a small village in the Balkan nation of Transia.

They were recruited into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants when Magneto saved Wanda from a mob of her fellow villagers, who sought to murder her based on the belief that her mutant power was some form of evil witchcraft.

The Scarlet Witch felt that she owed Magneto her service for saving her life even though she disagreed with his philosophy. Her brother Quicksilver likewise had doubts but would not leave his sister’s side.

Vintage Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) over a white background, from a pin-up page

The Brotherhood’s first public act was to take over the small nation of Santo Marco in South America. Mastermind’s illusions convinced the people of Santo Marco that Magneto had a massive army at his beck and call.

After their quick surrender Magneto recruited those same people, making the army real. Magneto’s army greatly resembled that of Nazi Germany in both behavior and dress, with the only notable difference being that their army patches featured an M instead of a swastika.

Alerted to Magneto’s plans, the X-Men traveled to Santo Marco, infiltrated Magneto’s headquarters there, and routed the Brotherhood.

Magneto attempted to enact a scorched earth policy by detonating a nuclear bomb and turning Santo Marco into a wasteland, but Quicksilver ran back and defused the bomb at the last moment before rejoining the Brotherhood as they took flight.

The X-Men soon confronted the Brotherhood again. This time their battlefield was Magneto’s orbital station, Asteroid M. During this fight Wanda and Pietro helped defend the Brotherhood against the X-Men but also actively interfered with Magneto’s attempts to murder the rival superteam, forcing the Brotherhood to end the fight by abandoning Asteroid M.

Subsequent encounters between the two groups made it clear to the X-Men that the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver served Magneto out of a perceived debt rather than agreement with his cause (indeed, they were in some ways more sympathetic to Xavier’s approach toward addressing anti-mutant prejudice), but the X-Men could not convince them to leave his service.

The twins even sought advice on their dilemma from the Fantastic Four, but a misunderstanding led to a fight with the Thing and the Human Torch that convinced the siblings that no one would help them.

After the fateful battle in which the alien scientist known as the Stranger took Magneto away from Earth for study, the mutant siblings realized that while Wanda may have owed Magneto her life, they both had repaid that debt many times over while risking themselves in his service.

Though Cyclops extended an invitation to them to join the X-Men, Wanda and Pietro decided to return to their homeland and forget the war between the mutant factions for the moment.

Avengers assemble !

Soon afterward as the siblings were vacationing at a Swiss chalet, Quicksilver read a newspaper announcement that the Avengers were looking for new members. Pietro saw this as an opportunity to demonstrate their good intentions without the confounding influence of their mutant origins being front and center.

The X-Men had already informed the authorities of Wanda’s and Pietro’s rejection of the Brotherhood and the 2 of them were welcomed into the Avengers with open arms. Wanda and Pietro reveled in being able to put their talents to positive uses and in the companionship of friendly caring people.

The early Scarlet Witch vs. the early X-Men

As members of the Avengers, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver aided the team in opposing numerous menaces, most notably the Mole Man, Doctor Doom, the Atlantean warlord Attuma, and the team of Avengers arch foes gathered by the brainwashed Black Widow. It was during that last conflict that the Scarlet Witch noticed her powers and her brother’s superspeed were fading.

The two of them took a leave of absence to return to their native village in the Balkans, theorizing that their unique abilities were tied to some quality of their homeland and could be restored by renewed exposure.

As it turned out, a scientist whose lab was housed in that same village was able to help them, applying a diathermatic treatment that not just restored but slightly increased their powers. This scientist recognized them as both the unfortunate exiles of the village that they had been but also as the famous Avengers they had become.

He was only the first of the village to offer Wanda and Pietro his help and kindness, as the rest of the village had also realized they had misjudged the mutant siblings and sought to make up for their previous poor treatment of them by welcoming the two home as heroes.

Transian and Manhattanite

For the next few weeks, Wanda and Pietro enjoyed the company of their fellow countrymen, including lavish gifts for Wanda such as a trained falcon to play with and the chance to borrow the President’s sports car and drive alongside Pietro as he ran along the mountain roads.

They were also telepathically contacted by Professor X, who once again invited them to join his team, but they declined as they planned to resume their duties with the Avengers.

Soon after Wanda and Pietro returned to the Avengers, Captain America took a leave of absence. While he was gone, the siblings became the glue that held the Avengers together.

While they did not assume a direct leadership role, the two of them worked together (with Quicksilver usually following the Witch’s lead) to smooth over disagreements between their teammates’ tempestuous natures and keep the group focused on their work.

Thanks in no small measure to Wanda’s and Pietro’s contributions, the Avengers defeated powerful foes such the Asgardian goddess known as the Enchantress and the ruthless alchemist Diablo. Captain America returned to the fold to find a well-integrated team that was able to foil a fiendish plot masterminded by the Mandarin.


The Inexplicability of History

Avengers #45 introduced substantial changes to the history and characters of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, the latter being most affected by the alterations. The villagers from whom Magneto had saved the siblings were now depicted as strangers to them, with Wanda’s accidental use of her powers happening by chance as the two passed through the area.

Pietro was constantly on the verge of violent outbursts because of the anti-mutant bigotry he continually encountered and Wanda’s confidence faltered as she became increasingly dependent on the decisions and guidance of others.

This was greatly at odds with previous depictions of the villagers as fellow townspeople of Wanda and Pietro and the welcome acceptance they had received from those villagers and the world at large after having demonstrated their good intentions.

Indeed, an extended subplot from previous issues featured the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver returning to their native village and being treated as beloved celebrities, partly as an apology from the villagers for their previous treatment of the twins.

Their character development was reversed, with the Scarlet Witch becoming even more uncertain and Pietro more tempestuous than in their first appearances with the Brotherhood.

While this profile simply ends before these changes are introduced, it is possible to rationalize these alterations.

It has been suggested that Magneto’s volatile and erratic personality over the years is the result of neurological imbalances caused by the mutant power surging through his body. A similar process may have had an adult onset in both Pietro and Wanda.

In support of this explanation, it should also be noted that the changes in the twins’ history were depicted as reminiscences by Quicksilver and thus may be explained as a delusional revision to his personal memory of the event.

The blatant prejudice that he suddenly seemed to be suffering might likewise be seen as Pietro interpreting his interactions with others in an increasingly negative light as his pathology deepened. This process could extend to the ever-worsening insanity that both characters later exhibited.

Exotic Cultures

Despite various flashbacks and even an extended visit to their homeland of Transia, little is known about Wanda’s and Pietro’s native culture. Transia is described only as a central European country though stories after the period covered by this writeup have described it as a former part of either Bulgaria or Romania, which would place it in eastern Europe.

Unlike later comics, their Transian village was explicitly stated to be their hometown rather than a place they had settled in or were passing through during their time with the Romani. It is possible that the village in question was Romani. The difficulty in identifying their native culture is further confused since their village was unnamed and the twins’ last names were also never given during this time.

Given the vague background information at the point covered in the writeup, their Languages very likely include Bulgarian and/or Romanian and possibly Romani as well. French and/or German are also highly likely as the siblings spent a considerable amount of time in Switzerland without any apparent communication problems. The Scarlet Witch was depicted as speaking French in later years.


Description

Wanda is a slender white female with broad shoulders and wavy shoulder-length hair. Her beauty is often noted by various male admirers, and likely became more prominent as she learned to express and carry herself with greater confidence.

The Scarlet Witch’s costume is a red one-piece bathing suit worn over a sheer pink body stocking, accessorized with red boots, gloves, and a large tiara.

While living with the Avengers, her personal attire tended toward comfortably loose blouses and tight leggings. When visiting her home village, she returned to the peasant dress of that place, mostly tunics and plain long dresses.

One of the illustrations shows a more modern version of her costume as a two-piece suit, but that was almost certainly a colouring mistake with her midriff being coloured pink instead of red.


Personality

Wanda is at heart a gentle and compassionate woman. This initially gave her a tendency to passively accede to the demands of more forceful personalities such as Magneto and Quicksilver.

This trend sometimes appeared more profound than it was due to Quicksilver’s tendency to “follow from the front” — Wanda would make a decision or suggestion and Pietro would not only agree but proceed to immediately act on it more vigorously than Wanda herself.

Despite the egos around her, or perhaps because of them, Wanda rapidly developed the confidence to speak her own mind, to make her own decisions, and to convince those same personalities to consider her ideas, most notably attempting to convince Magneto to temper his violent, tyrannical ways.

Her more peaceful nature made her reluctant to begin the battle anew by joining the Avengers, but the easy acceptance and comradeship of this new group, and by extension the general public, quickly confirmed to her that she had made the right decision.

As an orphan whose parentage is a mystery to her, family is very important to the Scarlet Witch. Indeed, seeing her brother or others she cares for in danger is the one thing that makes her willing to use her powers to their most dangerous extent. She tends to be more ruthless at such times and more likely to push her powers beyond their normal limits.

This also made it especially touching to her to be welcomed back into her home village, whose people had at one time attempted to burn her as a witch but now recognized her inherent good.

The combination of the positive influences of the Avengers and her renewed acceptance by her countrymen further bolstered Wanda’s confidence. This in turn encouraged her to be the voice of reason among the Avengers while Captain America was absent. Her combination of logic and compassion helped to calm and redirect conflicting and powerfully individualistic personalities such as Hawkeye and Hercules.

A core value for the Scarlet Witch is honor. Though she disagreed with Magneto’s goals and methods, she felt compelled to serve him after he saved her life from an angry mob. It was only after she felt that she had repaid this debt many times over that she finally left Magneto’s service.

She also tended to feel a strong immediate attraction to capable men of honorable or regal bearing, most notably Namor, Cyclops, and Captain America. However, Wanda did not let these feelings distract her from other priorities or otherwise unduly influence her.


Quotes

Mastermind: “Someday I may even decide that you are a worthy mate for Mastermind !”
Scarlet Witch: “How dare you speak to me that way ?? I’d sooner die than marry you !”
Quicksilver: “Wanda ! Don’t point your finger at him !! You know that always causes a disaster to occur !”
Scarlet Witch: “Do not concern yourself, Pietro ! I would not waste more than a trifle of my power on such as him !”

“You know that honor has always meant everything to our family ! And we have given our word to serve Magneto !”

“How different is (the Avengers’) comradeship from the fear and distrust of the evil mutants !”

(Interrupting Hawkeye and Hercules as they get into yet another argument during a mission) “STOP ! Stop it, both of you ! Two Avengers — and perhaps the entire world — are menaced by Diablo and the monstrous Dragon Man that he controls ! We must learn what Diablo’s plan is — and we can’t do that if we quarrel among ourselves !”


DC Universe History

The Scarlet Witch could have been one of the American Security Agency’s recruits for the Force of July, possibly even replacing Mayflower or Lady Liberty in which case she would have assumed that person’s identity in her initial appearances.

Much like Mayflower, Wanda would have been grateful to the ASA for giving her a home after the rejection she suffered from her fellow villagers. The Scarlet Witch’s character arc with the Brotherhood, including her departure because she felt her debt of honor had been satisfied, could be easily adapted to the Force of July.

Wanda and Pietro could have then been inducted into the Justice League during one of its recruitment drives, most likely Maxwell Lord’s creation of the JLI. When Batman began working with the JLI with lessening frequency, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver stepped in to provide the missing leadership and direction needed, keeping such disparate and expressive personalities as Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and Orion working together.

Their mental dissolution as described in “Inexplicability…” above would have contributed to the League’s collapse during the “Breakdowns” storyline and resulted in increasingly turbulent and problematic behavior as time went by.

As another approach, after Wanda accidentally burned a house due to poor control of her powers, she and her brother were arrested by the local police. At this same time, the Queen Bee was recruiting the Global Guardians for Bialya, so the local government offered their two captives mutants to the Guardians in exchange for some good publicity. Wanda and Pietro were offered a pardon if they joined the Guardians; Wanda accepted due to guilt, and Pietro, as ever, did it trying to protect her.

The Bialyan Global Guardians were then revealed as villains, fighting the JLI. But the twins’ hearts were in the right place, and they ultimately broke with Guardians to join the JLI (perhaps even freeing Beetle and Booster from Bialya’s jail in the process).

Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch first joined the JLI and then transferred to JL Europe when it was formed, with the two often working as translators for the rest of the group. In the JLE, Wanda meet the Silver Sorceress, who taught her the secrets of magic before being killed.

It is also possible that Ice replaces Crystal in Pietro’s heart, much to Guy Gardner’s ire.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Scarlet Witch

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Unwanted Power
Int: 04 Wil: 05 Min: 04 Occupation: Superhero, former terrorist
Inf: 06 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 011 HP: 040

Powers:
Energy Blast: 11, Stagger: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Energy Blast and Stagger are both Indirect — Their targets simply break or get knocked off balance with no visible cause (+3FC each)
  • Energy Blast and Stagger both require Wanda to make a gesture in order to use them (-1FC each)
  • Energy Blast can also be used directly and cannot be used indirectly if Wanda is using more than 09 APs of the Power ; Energy Blast exhibits a visible beam when fired directly and can be used to Block other Energy Blasts, the latter of which is not possible for indirect uses (+1FC total)
  • Energy Blast and Stagger cannot be used for Multi-Attacks (-1FC each)
  • Energy Blast has no AV (-1FC or -0FC depending on house rules)
  • Energy Blast does not affect living targets (-1FC)
  • Energy Blast cannot cause Knockback (-1FC)
  • Stagger does not affect nonliving targets(-1FC)
  • Opponents targeted by Stagger can add their APs of Density Increase or Joined to their RV

Skills:
Accuracy (Energy Blast): 07, Animal Handling: 04, Charisma (Persuasion)*: 06, Vehicles (Land)*: 03

Note:
Wanda initially demonstrated Animal Handling in her hobby as a falconer. Though she was not shown working with any other animals, her rustic background in tandem with her demonstrated abilities in this esoteric focus makes it likely that she is also familiar with applying that skill to more common livestock and pets.

Advantages:
Attractive, Local Hero (Transia)

Connections:
Avengers (High), Quicksilver (High), X-Men (Low)

Drawbacks:
None


Developing Hexpertise

During Wanda’s early appearances her hexes were not as powerful or accurate as they later would be. Her Energy Blast was only 09 APs and could only be used indirectly, her Accuracy was only 06 APs, and she only had 30 HPs during her time with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and her early service with the Avengers.

Her abilities rose to their current level after she resolved the Power Complication Subplot that resulted in her and Quicksilver’s first leave of absence from the Avengers. The treatment meant to restore Wanda’s and Pietro’s waning Powers actually enhanced them slightly, as was demonstrated in their first mission back with the Avengers against Ixar the Invincible.

Her transition from mutant terrorist to superhero was the result of personal growth. Her WILL and SPIRIT were only 04, her INFL only 03, and she had no Charisma Skill when she first joined the Brotherhood.She also had Mistrust and a CIA to honoring personal debts during her time with the Brotherhood, which was in fact the only reason she accepted membership with them.

As she became more confident and assertive in response to her increasing qualms against working with the Brotherhood, her WILL, INFL, and SPIRIT all increased by 1 AP.

This process culminated in the Scarlet Witch buying off her CIA and leaving the Brotherhood; she still valued honorable behavior, but would no longer accept obligations to commit acts against her beliefs simply to satisfy a perceived debt. Her Mistrust Drawback was bought off after leaving the Brotherhood.

Though Wanda was initially hesitant about joining the Avengers, their welcoming attitude and the chance to put her skills to more altruistic uses furthered her personal development. Her INFL rose another AP to 05 shortly after joining the Avengers.

After returning to her home village and coming to terms with her past, the Scarlet Witch gained confidence enough to partially step into a leadership role while Captain America was absent from the Avengers. Her INFL rose to its current 06 APs and she gained the Charisma (Persuasion) Subskill, which she used primarily to defuse antagonisms among her teammates and focus them on their work as Avengers.

While the Scarlet Witch was with the Brotherhood, she had a Low Connection to that group but no Connection to the Avengers or X-Men. The X-Men Connection replaced the Brotherhood one when she left the supervillain group and the Avengers Connection was acquired soon afterward when she joined that team. She did not have the Local Hero Advantage until her return to Transia.

By Roy Cowan

Source of Character: Marvel Comics

Helper(s): Capita Senyera, Marcello, Sébastien Andrivet.

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