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The Wild Comic Book Backstory Of Agatha Harkness, The Witch Behind It All On 'WandaVision'

Agatha Harkness may have made her MCU debut in WandaVision - complete with her own theme song - but fans of Marvel Comics have spent more than 50 years reading about the witch's two-faced ways. Similar to Scarlet Witch, Agatha Harkness's powers have changed and evolved over the years, but one thing's for sure: She's one of the most experienced magic users in the comics. Also, when it comes to Agatha Harkness, Mephisto and other mystical villains are rarely far behind.

In her first appearance (1970’s Fantastic Four #94), Harkness started out as a nanny for the FF with a dark, magical secret. Since then, she’s evolved into a supporting character for many mystical Marvel heroes, and the Scarlet Witch in particular. Whether it be the sudden appearance and disappearance of Wanda Maximoff’s children, her eventual mastery of chaos magic, or her tragic descent into madness, Agatha has been there for Scarlet Witch's entire journey. Dead or alive (and she’s been both with great regularity), Harkness has built a reputation as a generally benevolent individual with little more than a touch of moral ambiguity - a sharp contrast to the strong villainous undertones of Kathryn Hahn’s portrayal in the MCU. 

  • Harkness Had A WWII-Era Archnemesis Named Hilda von Hate

    As one of the most powerful sorceresses to ever live, Agatha Harkness developed her fair share of enemies over the centuries. Her first true archnemesis came in the wake of WWII in the form of an escaped war criminal and genuinely evil witch named Hilda von Hate, which is the sort of moniker that leaves one with few career options outside of evil witchery.

    Von Hate had been a member of the SS and used her magical abilities to perform arcane experiments on the prisoners in concentration camps, an endeavor she hoped to continue even after Germany’s defeat. Instead, however, Harkness and the Department of the Uncanny hunted her down and put an end to her malice for good, after which Agatha retired from active military duty.

  • Agatha Harkness First Showed Up As The Fantastic Four’s Nanny

    Though her character history stretches back thousands of years, Agatha Harkness didn’t make her actual on-page debut until 1970’s Fantastic Four #94. Having left active duty to become a governess for needy children, Harkness was hired by Reed and Susan Richards to take care of their young son Franklin while they were busy saving the world. At the time, they had no idea of her mystical might, but that wouldn’t stay a secret for long.

    Not only did Agatha prove more than capable of keeping Franklin safe from the FF’s many enemies, but she was also the first to recognize the young mutant’s nigh-unlimited potential. In time, Franklin Richards would become one of the most powerful beings in the entire Marvel Universe, and his early childhood education with “Auntie Agatha” played an important role. 

    In time, Harkness would reveal her own powers to the Fantastic Four, after which she was accepted as her true self with open arms - despite the Thing’s initial terror at sharing a home with a genuine witch.

  • Agatha Once Defeated The Entire Frightful Four By Herself, Earning Full-Time Employment In The Process

    The first time the Fantastic Four met Agatha Harkness, they visited her at her own ancient manor, intending on leaving Franklin Richards there for some babysitting. Unfortunately, the Frightful Four - consisting then of the Wizard, Sandman, Trapster, and Medusa - followed the heroes there hoping to take Franklin hostage.

    The usually bumbling quartet of villains somehow managed to incapacitate the entirety of the Fantastic Four, leaving Harkness and her cat Ebony the only things standing between them and Franklin. Against all expectations, Agatha handled the Frightful Four by herself, and with relative ease, using her magic to enlarge her cat until it was big enough to maul the Wizard, transfiguring Sandman into rock, and scaring the rest away with terrifying illusions. By the time the FF recovered and raced to the scene, they found Franklin asleep in Agatha’s arms - and from that point on, she became the family’s full-time governess. 

  • She Had A Trusty Black Cat Sidekick, Ebony (Until She Ate It To See The Future)

    Like many witches, Agatha Harkness had an animal companion, known as a “familiar,” in the form of a black cat named Ebony. Just like with Agatha, there was a great deal more to Ebony than met the eye.

    Whether through Agatha’s magic or some innate ability, Ebony possessed the ability to transform into a giant wildcat capable of batting supervillains around with her paws. She remained by Agatha’s side for decades (possibly centuries), before meeting a tragic yet necessary end. 

    The Wundagore Everbloom is a plant that allows one who consumes it to glimpse the future, but it is also fatal. Agatha had Ebony eat leaves from the plant, and then ate Ebony, allowing Agatha to see what was to come without perishing herself - an act that proved vital in preventing the Vision from accidentally committing great atrocities.