Why Vision and Scarlet Witch Have Been Sidelined in Marvel Comics

Despite being two of the longest-serving Avengers, and formerly key players in some of Marvel Comics’ biggest events, both Vision and the Scarlet Witch have nearly faded into the background in recent years. With the recent success of WandaVision on Disney Plus, readers have been left wondering why neither member of this now-A-List couple is being prominently featured in any ongoing Marvel title.

Following their introductions into the Marvel Cinematic Universe during Avengers: Age of Ultron, both Wanda and Vision were given their first solo ongoing series. Vision starred in a seminal 12-issue maxi-series from creative team Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, while James Robinson and various artists attempted to reinvent the character of Wanda Maximoff in 2016’s Scarlet Witch.

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In 2021, at the height of both character’s popularity with the mainstream, non-comic reading audience, not only do both Vision and Scarlet Witch lack their own ongoing titles, but neither has been featured in the main Avengers title since 2017. There is no simple reason as to why neither Avenger is getting the spotlight they deserve. Rather, a number of factors—both on the page and off—have led to their lack of starring roles in the comics. 

Forgotten Origins

Vision and Scarlet witch wedding

Compared to their MCU counterparts, the histories of both Scarlet Witch and the Vision are long, convoluted, and often retroactively altered to suit whichever story they’re currently appearing in. Wanda Maximoff first appeared in The X-Men #4, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. She was initially portrayed as a reluctant member of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants alongside her twin brother, Pietro AKA Quicksilver. It wouldn’t be until after years of membership on the Avengers that Marvel would reveal that Magneto was the true father of Wanda and Pietro.

The Vision, created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema in The Avengers #57 was introduced as the morally-conflicted offspring of Ultron, an android who possessed the brain patterns of the hero Wonder Man. Years after his first appearance, Vision would learn that his artificial body once belonged to the Golden Age Human Torch, the first superhero published by Marvel Comics in 1939.

While both serving on the Avengers from the late ‘60s throughout the ‘70s, Wanda and Vision found themselves drawn toward one another due in part to their shared experiences. Both recognized that they had been manipulated by villains posing as father figures, and both felt that their outsider status—as a mutant and an android—set them apart from the rest of the human race.

Related: Marvel’s Most Dangerous Avenger Reveals His First Murder

Messy Family History

White Vision Scarlet Witch Marvel Comics

Their blossoming relationship resonated with readers, and the couple would eventually star in two mini-series entitled The Vision and the Scarlet Witch in 1982 and 1985. The second series introduced the children of Wanda and Vision, twins Tommy and Billy, who were magically conceived with Wanda’s reality-warping hex powers. Not long after, Vision was rebooted as an emotionless husk, and the two called off their marriage. 

The story of Tommy and Billy initially ends tragically in the pages of West Coast Avengers, after the boys are lost to a villain known as Master Pandemonium. Rather than deal with the fallout of the tragic loss, Wanda’s memories of her children are instead erased by the sorceress Agatha Harkness. 

This planted the seed for Avengers Disassembled, a controversial storyline in which, after Wanda regains the memories of her lost children, she loses control of her powers and sets off a chain of events that killed longtime Avengers members Hawkeye, Ant-Man, and Vision himself. Avengers Disassembled concluded with a mentally and emotionally broken Wanda being carried off by her father in the hopes of recovery. Instead, Wanda would be manipulated by Quicksilver into creating the House of M reality, an alternate world in which her family sat atop the ruling class of homo superior. The storyline ended with Wanda casting a spell that caused 99% of mutants to lose their X-gene.

Tragedy After Tragedy

House of M

Since House of M, Wanda has been considered one of the great enemies of mutant-kind, and has become something of a boogeyman within the community. Fully recovered, and attempting to atone for her actions as a member of the mutant-led Avengers Unity Squad, Wanda would ultimately learn that not only was she not genetically a mutant, but also that Magneto was never her father in the first place. Since then, Wanda has discovered that her “Scarlet Witch” powers and persona are part of a larger legacy tied to the mystical corner of the Marvel Universe.

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A teenage version of the Vision was introduced within the pages of Young Avengers, and began a relationship with fellow teammate and daughter of Ant-Man, Cassie Lang. Also on the team were the teenaged versions of Tommy and Billy Maximoff, fully resurrected and acting as the superheroes now known as Speed and Wiccan. This version of the Vision didn’t last long, and eventually, the original android was rebuilt and brought back to life with his mind and personality completely intact. Since his resurrection, Vision has served on and off with the Avengers.

In an attempt to carve out a new life for himself, Vision would build and program an artificial family and move to the suburbs of Virginia. After a series of horrific tragedies, Vision’s artificial wife and son were killed, and he was left as a single father for a traumatized teenage daughter, Viv.  

Failure to Launch New Titles

The Vision Family Tree

While apart from one another, these characters have suffered death and resurrection, mental and emotional trauma, and the loss of family and loved ones. So many of Scarlet Witch and Vision’s most iconic storylines center on pain and grief. It’s easy to imagine writers and artists wanting to avoid revisiting these subjects and struggling to conceive of an angle that would move these characters forward without completely ignoring their pasts.

Throughout their histories in the comics, both Wanda and Vision have lost their initial defining pathos as characters. The retcon of Wanda’s mutant status, and her subsequent estrangement from her father and brother, has been met with antipathy from longtime readers and fans. While she has carved out a new identity for herself among Marvel’s mystical heroes in the pages of titles such as Strange Academy, little has been done to differentiate her status from the likes of Doctor Strange and Brother Voodoo.

Related: WandaVision Can’t Show Vision and Scarlet Witch’s Most Awkward Moment

Wanda was set to star in a 2020 miniseries entitled Darkhold by writer Steve Orlando and artist Cian TormeyDarkhold would have explored Wanda’s connection to Marvel mysticism, but due to delays caused by COVID-19, the series was removed from Marvel’s publishing scheduled and a new release date has yet to have been announced. For Vision, the 2015 Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta series casts a long shadow, not only on the character but also on his publication status. In 2018, Marvel Comics canceled a six-issue sequel series, from creative team Chelsea Cain, Marc Mohan and Aud Koch after four issues were already completed.

A New Generation Has Taken Over 

Wiccan Young Avengers Cover

Vision’s artificial daughter, Viv, has consistently appeared in the series The Champions, as a member of Marvel’s premier teenage superhero team. In the book, she has been exploring the relationship between her innate humanity and her android body, much like Vision himself did in his earliest appearances. The teenage Tommy and Billy have remained fan-favorite characters since their first appearances in Young Avengers, especially within the LGBTQ+ community. Billy, in particular, has starred in a number of stories centered on themes of family, romance, and the potential for near-omnipotent power.

While Vision and the Scarlet Witch may be currently floundering as characters, their children have inherited their parents’ legacy as young, well-rounded, nuanced characters attempting to find their place in the world in spite of their histories and unconventional origins. Fraught, melodramatic familial bonds and relationships are a major part of the reason behind these characters’ initial popularity. Since Vision and Scarlet Witch have been separated from one another, the Avengers, and their family trees, neither character has been able to stand on their own in a lasting, meaningful way.

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