Who Is Agatha Harkness?
Learn the complete comics history of this mystic equal in might to Scarlet Witch!
Have you tried Marvel Unlimited yet? It’s your all-access pass to over 28,000 Marvel comics, available at your fingertips. Sign up now to get 50% off your first month.
Agatha Harkness may be a lot of things, but inherently evil is not one of them. Sure, she does things that may make you raise an eyebrow (or at first glance project villainous energy), but upon taking an in-depth look, it’s not that black and white. Agatha is the witchy chaotic neutral doing what she can to keep things from going from “worse,” to “Franklin Richards destroying the entire universe-level” bad. In a place like Marvel’s Earth-616 where different instances of Multiverse renewals have triggered some eight various incarnations, Agatha Harkness is required to keep mystical forces in balance. Read about her history on Marvel Unlimited now!
FRANKLIN RICHARDS AND THE FANTASTIC FOUR
Agatha Harkness first appeared in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #94. Fantastic Four members Reed and Sue Richards needed someone to look after their newborn son Franklin, and none other than Agatha came out of retirement to do just that. Despite the Thing’s concerns regarding her occult origins, Agatha proved right away that she was far more than a babysitter. She defeated the likes of the Frightful Four without breaking a sweat or waking a sleeping infant. No one else could do that, like no one else could be left in charge of so powerful a baby.
Agatha’s involvement with the FF extends well beyond being a babysitter who should have charged them multiple times with extended care fees. Agatha’s witchcraft was most helpful, even with a scientific mind like Reed Richards present. In fact, her spells are what saved Mister Fantastic when he got stuck in the Negative Zone. She was also the one to convince Sue Richards to reach out to Doctor Doom to help with Overmind. Agatha also located Princess Crystal of the Inhumans for a lovesick Johnny Storm to save!
And, when the time came, Agatha was the one to warn the Richards of the great danger that their son was in thanks to Annihilus. Through the use of magic, Agatha swiftly got the team back to the Baxter Building so that Reed Richards could render Franklin comatose before he destroyed an entire solar system. Yet another noteworthy achievement was when Agatha ushered her young ward to safety when Ultron attacked the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the Inhumans. Subsequently, her actions are what led to Franklin single-handedly destroying this robotic menace. You’re welcome.
SON OF A WITCH: NICHOLAS SCRATCH
It doesn’t help her reputation that Agatha often does things without explanation, but she’s usually pressed for time, and her reasons are almost always valid. However, in the instance of her son, Nicholas Scratch, her actions were a tad selfish. After kidnapping Franklin abruptly without parental permission, Agatha used the child to help take down the leader of New Salem, a witch-warlock community she left years prior. Her son Nicholas was left in charge of this “mages-only” hotspot, and unfortunately he grew into somewhat of a despotic ruler.
After involving the Fantastic Four in her affairs, Agatha was the one to do what no mother would happily do: She let her son be banished to the “Dark Realm,” as he intended to do harm to the world of man. When Nicholas tried to reanimate himself via a Franklin Richards possession, Agatha once again did what had to be done so that she could keep the FF and the rest of the world safe. It’s in this moment that Agatha is a mother who wishes she could have done better by her own child. Perhaps that is why she atones for her shortcomings by helping overpowered people like Franklin and Wanda Maximoff.
THE SYNTHEZOID, THE SCARLET WITCH, AND THE TEACHER
Agatha stayed booked and busy for a while following her care of Franklin. She went where she was needed, even if those in need didn’t realize it yet! Case in point: Her next gig as a powerful protector and tutor to the reality-altering Scarlet Witch. Agatha taught Wanda Maximoff the ways of mysticism, given that Wanda’s powers invoke chaos magic and hexes. Now, things get pretty messy when it comes to Agatha’s involvement here, but ultimately, she always did what she felt was best for Wanda, and the two formed a close familial bond.
Agatha’s reach continued when the then-married Scarlet Witch and Vision became embroiled in a battle against the Super Villain mages of Salem’s Seven. The newlyweds’ visit to New Salem turned disastrous once the unhinged Vertigo drew in the entire community’s magical energies, all but decimating the town. Wanda managed to capture some of this excess and funnel it away, but there was nowhere safe for this incredible amount of power to go... until Agatha’s astral form encouraged Wanda to channel the magic elsewhere. Finally, it looked like Wanda and Vizh were on the path to creating the family they so desperately wanted. And things were good. Until they weren’t.
In what is one of the saddest stories in Scarlet Witch canon, Wanda’s children were absorbed by the villainous Master Pandemonium as he thought that the twins were pieces of his soul. They were not. Instead, they were actually pieces of Mephisto, a demonic hell-lord who claimed Billy and Tommy as his own. The only way that Agatha could save the Avengers from Mephisto was through Wanda, ultimately via the destruction of her children. In an objectively terrible move, Agatha sealed off the twins’ from Wanda’s memory, wiping out their existence yet sparing her the agony of grief. It was the best that Agatha could do given how late she learned of the twins’ true nature. Although, she later restored those memories once Immortus’s actual plans regarding Wanda were revealed to all.
[RELATED: The Comics History of Billy and Tommy]
FOR THE LOVE OF A DAUGHTER SHE NEVER HAD
Despite how it plays out on the page, Agatha does love Wanda like a daughter. She was on hand to help Scarlet Witch when another Nexus being, Lore, came for her, leading Wanda to be born anew. Agatha also offered her support to both Doctor Strange and Wanda with matters of the Darkhold, a mystical grimoire of vast power. And lastly, when magic started disappearing from the universe and subsequently killing Wanda every time she used her abilities, Agatha’s ghost was by her side as a guide and mentor to figure out just what was going on.
But the great Harkness did not stay a ghost for much longer. Agatha teamed up with Wanda and the spirit of her biological mother, Natalya Maximoff, against Chaos, a physical being that was the cause of the disrupted magic. The sprits of Agatha and Natalya channeled their power through Wanda and, after her brother Quicksilver arrived, managed to defeat Chaos permanently. Unfortunately, this gravely wounded the Goddess of Witchcraft. Natalya sacrificed herself to maintain mystical order and, in doing so, brought Agatha back to life! Although Agatha noted that her and Wanda's paths are forever entwined, Agatha chose to take some "me time" to enjoy life again, choosing to visit a nude beach because why not.
Complicated, devoted, and sometimes quite ruthless, Agatha Harkness offers magical solutions that no one else can conjure. Now, head over to Marvel Unlimited to read these stories for yourself!
Follow Marvel Unlimited on Twitter and Facebook to stay tuned in to weekly announcements, articles, and more, all at @MarvelUnlimited. Follow us today to join the conversation with thousands of fellow fans, and let us know what you’re reading!
The Hype Box
Can’t-miss news and updates from across the Marvel Universe!
Meet Kahhori, The Newest Super Hero in Marvel Studios’ ‘What If…?’