All The Weird Comic Book Storylines That Influenced 'WandaVision'
As the first Disney+ series starring members of the big-screen Avengers, WandaVision serves as a bold step for the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will impact the direction of the franchise for Phases yet to come, but what of WandaVision’s own influences? There's a large list of comics to be read before WandaVision to enhance one’s viewing experience, and they stand as a true testament to the decades-worth of source material that the series warps and transforms into a new MCU chapter.
Whether it be Wanda Maximoff and Vision’s relationship, their would-be children, potential villains, or their domestic bliss in general, all the elements present in WandaVision spring from the pages of classic Marvel Comics. But much like the Scarlet Witch, the creative minds at Marvel Studios take a pre-existing reality and alter it to match their desires, with audiences at home the lucky beneficiaries of their story-weaving magic.
‘Nights Of Wundagore’ Marked The First Time Wanda Maximoff Broke Bad
The Issues: Avengers #185-187 (1979) by Mark Gruenwald, Steven Grant, David Michelinie, and John Byrne
The “Nights of Wundagore” story arc, though relatively brief, contained a bevy of firsts for Wanda Maximoff and the Avengers. It marked the first time that she and twin brother Pietro truly looked into their origins, and what they discovered proved both disturbing and incredibly influential on Marvel storylines for decades to come. Traveling to Wundagore Mountain, the site of their birth, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver learned that they’d been raised in part by the New Men, anthropomorphic animals created by the High Evolutionary, though the exact nature of their parentage remained shrouded in mystery for many years thereafter.
The “Nights of Wundagore” era was also when Wanda began her witchy tutelage under Agatha Harkness after understanding that her powers were magical in nature, and it is there that the closest parallels to WandaVision are felt. Just as she came to reckon with her connection with Chaos Magic and the untold reality-altering potential it afforded her, the Scarlet Witch was possessed by the elder god Chthon and forced to kidnap the other Avengers in a plot to bring Chthron’s corporeal form back to the earthly plane. Fortunately, the sheer willpower of her teammates, along with the intervention of Pietro and the man they thought was their father, was enough to overwhelm Chthon this time.
Wanda exploring her abilities while holding others against their will and being strangely manipulated by Harkness and others? For a storyline that came out nearly a half-century before WandaVision hit the airwaves, the character-defining influence of “Nights of Wundagore” is still immense.
‘The Vision And The Scarlet Witch' Vol. 1 Found The Couple Settling Down In The New Jersey Suburbs
The Issues: The Vision and The Scarlet Witch Vol. 1 #1-4 (1982) by Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonardi
If there’s one comic book that can be identified as the single most direct influence on WandaVision’s aesthetic, it’s the titular couple’s first shared limited series, in which they decided to retire from their Avenging careers and settle down in the suburbs of Leonia, New Jersey (minutes away from Westview, for those keeping score at home). This time around, however, they didn’t have time to draw much more than some inquisitive glances from the neighbors and some light commentary on the prejudices of suburban life before they were off on Avengers-related adventures again.
After an encounter with a haunted housewarming gift from Captain America, The Vision and the Scarlet Witch Vol. 1 quickly moved away from its initial premise and got back right back into the exploration of Wanda Maximoff’s mysterious origins. A visit from yet another man believing himself to be her father, WWII-era hero The Whizzer, proved to be a red herring, but the question was raised again when Pietro Maximoff announced the impending birth of his own child with the Inhuman Crystal.
Magneto, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s former boss in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, appeared for the birth, but he wasn’t there to fight. Instead, the Master of Magnetism revealed himself as Wanda and Pietro’s true father, resulting in a heartwarming, if awkward, family moment - one that was only slightly tarnished by the further revelation some decades later that Magneto was actually not, in fact, their dad.
With ‘Vision And The Scarlet Witch' Vol. 2, The Neighbors And The Twins Arrived
The Issues: The Vision and The Scarlet Witch Vol .2 #1-12 (1985) by Steve Englehart and Richard Howell
The Vision and the Scarlet Witch’s second solo series last three times as long as their first, and it afforded the couple a real chance to settle into their new suburban lifestyle - just in time for Wanda Maximoff to become pregnant. News of the impending and presumably supernatural new arrival attracted the attention of some demonic enemies like The Lethal Legion and Salem’s Seven, though this time the action stayed close to the homefront.
Along the way, Wanda and Vision got to know their kooky neighbors, including two married stage magicians named Glamour and Illusion (names Wanda and Vision borrowed in WandaVision) that turned out to be real sorcerers in disguise. With a little help from their friends next door, and other allies like Doctor Strange, Wonder Man, and Magneto, the titular duo successfully gave birth to two seemingly healthy baby boys, Thomas and William Maximoff.
At the time, it was portrayed as a happy ending - though plenty questioned how exactly a synthezoid had procreated with a mutant - with only a few dark hints at the tragedy that was soon to unfold in its wake.
‘Vision Quest’ Ended With The Resurrection Of The Vision As A Colorless, Emotionless Husk
The Issues: West Coast Avengers #42-50 (1989) by John Byrne
Following the birth of their twins, Wanda Maximoff and the Vision enjoyed a few months of quiet parental bliss. Happy home lives are rarely the subject of interesting comic books, so something clearly had to give. The couple decided to move from New Jersey to California, joining up with Hawkeye’s splinter group of West Coast Avengers - though, for a time, even that cross-country change proved relatively peaceful.
That all changed with “Vision Quest,” a storyline that saw the US government confiscate and dismantle the Vision after he lost control of himself and attempted to take over every computer in the world. Wanda and her teammates were able to successfully recover and rebuild Vision, but Wonder Man, whose brain patterns had been used in Vision’s original construction, refused to let his personality be grafted onto the synthezoid again. The end result was a chalk-white, emotionless Vision much like the one that gave Wanda (and viewers) a shock on WandaVision, and the shift put a serious strain on his and Wanda’s relationship.
Though this new, quasi-resurrected version of Vision remained with the Scarlet Witch, and on the roster of the West Coast Avengers, he no longer felt any love for her or their two children. And while this was no doubt incredibly painful for Wanda, it still paled in comparison to the horrors that were to shortly follow.
The Dark Nature Of The Twins Was Revealed In ‘Fragments Of A Greater Darkness,’ And Pandemonium Ensued
The Issues: West Coast Avengers #51-52 (1989) by John Byrne
Not long after the “Vision Quest” - in fact, there are those who tack this story on to it as an epilogue - Master Pandemonium arrived on the West Coast scene to live up to his name in the “Fragments of a Greater Darkness” arc. Hot on the heels of yet another demonic possession of the Scarlet Witch coupled with the revelation that the still-emotionless Vision was not, as it turned out, built from the body of the original Human Torch, the West Coast Avengers were at their most vulnerable. It was about to get a lot worse.
Master Pandemonium revealed that his own master was the demon lord Mephisto, himself a Marvel Comics stand-in for the biblical devil, and that Mephisto had created Wanda and Vision’s medically impossible twins, making them more demonic extensions than actual children. Then, Master Pandemonium rather unceremoniously reabsorbed Thomas and William into himself and out of existence, wearing them around for a while on his hands in truly gruesome fashion before delivering them back to Mephisto.
The revelation devastated the entire team, but of course, none more so than Wanda Maximoff, who didn’t so much lose her children as learn that they had never existed. Her tragedy was made worse by the fact that the Vision still could not feel emotion, leading her into a complete and total mental breakdown.
That’s when her old mentor Agatha Harkness showed up and convinced everyone that the best way to proceed was to erase Wanda’s memories of her children, reasoning that the loss was just too overwhelming for her to otherwise handle. The spell worked, and everything slowly went back to normal, though Wanda and the Vision separated and joined different Avengers teams the very next issue. Wanda’s memories wouldn’t be gone for good, however, and when they returned, they would sow chaos across the entire Marvel Universe - probably not fantastic news for the post-WandaVision Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Wanda Attempted To Resurrect A Love Interest Under An Energy Dome In ‘…Always An Avenger!’
The Issues: Avengers Vol. 3 #10-11 (1998) by Kurt Busiek and George Perez
At first blush, this overwrought two-part saga from the late ‘90s seems divorced from the esoteric sensibilities of WandaVision, but the parallels stack up surprisingly well. “…Always An Avenger” started with Wanda Maximoff studying under Agatha Harkness in the hopes of using her abilities to bring Simon Williams, her former lover and the basis of Vision’s personality, back to life. But when the Grim Reaper and his Legion of the Unliving (complete with a zombified Wonder Man) joined the party, things escalated quickly.
To aid in his strike on the Avengers, the Grim Reaper created a dome of mystical energy over Central Park, trapping them inside. Fortunately, Wanda and Agatha were able to harness enough Chaos Magic to truly resurrect Simon, allowing him to step in and defeat Grim Reaper.
And though this particular tale ended on a pleasant note with Wanda and Simon reunited, like so much of Wanda's comic book life, it paved the way for further heartbreak down the road. It also featured the Scarlet Witch attempting to resurrect a deceased lover inside a mystical dome; an impressive level of correlation between it and WandaVision for a story that only lasted two issues. The Grim Reaper’s helmet also showed up as an Easter egg in “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience.”