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Who is Agatha Harkness? The WandaVision villain’s comic book history explained

This week’s WandaVision episode 7 reveals some dark truths about what’s going on in Westview, and introduces a surprise (but somewhat expected) Marvel Comics character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Spoilers ahead for WandaVision episode 7

WandaVision episode 7 reveals that nosey neighbor Agnes is actually Marvel Comics witch Agatha Harkness in disguise. And what’s more, she’s been manipulating the events in Westview since the start of the show, having been faking being one of the brainwashed residents of the illusory New Jersey town since the beginning (she even admits she killed Sparky! Very evil, not very nice).

Though Agatha Harkness’s comic book history doesn’t exactly reflect her outwardly villainous nature in WandaVision, her connections to the Scarlet Witch and the magical history of Marvel Comics may shed light on numerous mysteries from WandaVision – from Wanda’s plight to Vision’s resurrection, to the nature of twins Billy and Tommy, and even the (sort of) return of Pietro Maximoff.

Who is Agatha Harkness

Agatha Harkness greets the Fantastic Four at the door of her creepy mansion. 
Image: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby/Marvel Comics

In comic books, Agatha Harkness is the very picture of an old lady with a witchy secret – but the truth about Agatha’s nature is even weirder than it appears from the outside.

Though she looks like an elderly woman (and technically she is), Agatha is even older, having lived since the time before the sinking of Atlantis tens of thousands of years in Marvel’s past. Prolonging her life through magical means by way of her primal, often darkly influenced witchcraft, Harkness has lived countless lifetimes, constantly honing her abilities.

In the 1700s, Harkness settled in Salem, Massachusetts, starting a witch coven that became the targets of the Salem Witch Trials in the Marvel Universe’s version of those historical events – an occurrence that Harkness later described as a “culling” of the weaker practitioners from her coven, showing the dark side that Harkness has occasionally displayed, despite being a usual ally to Marvel’s heroes.

Agatha’s history is rife with attempts to form new covens and consolidate power among women in her circle. Following the Salem Witch Trials, during the American Revolutionary War, Harkness even formed a group known as the Daughters of Liberty who she trained in the magical arts – a practice she would continue at least through World War II when she was recruited by the U.S. Army to help take down Nazi sorcerers.

Oddly enough, as in WandaVision, Agatha has an unseen husband who plays a key role in her history. Little is known about her long-dead husband – including his name, which may have been Harkness. They had one son, named Nicholas Scratch (more on him momentarily), who has been a key part of many of Agatha’s stories over the years.

The rest of Agatha’s family is somewhat mysterious. Weirdly, she’s been shown to have connections to a French magical dynasty known as Clan D’Arqness, which has a penchant for summoning demons.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Agatha Harkness came into contact with the modern Marvel Universe in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #94, when Reed and Sue Richards contacted Harkness, who had spent most of the mid-to-late 20th century as a governess for children, to watch over their son Franklin. Though she initially hesitated, Harkness became Franklin’s permanent governess.

Harkness often watched over Franklin while the Fantastic Four were on missions, which often led her to get involved in their adventures, eventually leading her to help Franklin control and harness his own burgeoning superpowers.

It’s as Franklin’s governess, alongside the Fantastic Four, that Harkness first met Wanda Maximoff. During an adventure in which Vision and Scarlet Witch faced off with a group of demonic entities known as Salem’s Seven (in Vision & Scarlet Witch Vol. 2 #3), led by Harkness’s son Nicholas Scratch who was technically the demons’ father, Scratch managed to capture and actually kill Agatha by burning her at the stake. 

However, her astral form survived, and recognizing the magic potential in Wanda Maximoff thanks to her connections to the ancient Marvel deity of chaos Chthon, she became a mentor to Wanda. When Salem’s Seven used their own magical abilities to duel Wanda, she absorbed a large portion of Harkness’s magical power to defeat them.

Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes was revealed to be Agatha Harkness in ‘WandaVision’ Episode 7.

Later, Wanda used this power to create her twin sons William and Thomas, though they were ultimately revealed to be the products of the demon Mephisto, who was channeling his own dark magic through Harkness’s witchcraft.Advertisement

Harkness later returned to life and continued her mentorship of Wanda and other Marvel magic users, even sequestering and protecting Wanda after she created the House of M reality and cause the mutant decimation.

In one interesting twist – especially considering her role in WandaVision – Harkness was the narrator of Tom King and Gabriel Walta’s Vision limited series, which lends some influence to WandaVision.

Harkness has died and returned to life several times since first being burned by Salem’s Seven, with her fate apparently being directly entwined with Wanda’s. She’s currently alive, though she’s rarely been seen for the last few years.

Agatha Harkness in the MCU

mage: Marvel Studios

In the MCU, Agatha Harkness’s history is much more obscure, thanks to only having a few minutes of the reveal of her true nature onscreen in WandaVision episode 7.

Unlike Marvel Comics, MCU Agatha appears to be more directly villainous, even antagonistic to Wanda, apparently manipulating her actions in Westview and even taking a special interest in Billy and Tommy, who have a strange connection to the power of Agatha Harkness in comics.

Agatha’s basement is its own treasure trove of mysteries, from the strange artifacts found in the cavernous, magical space, to the myriad hallways marked with different arcane symbols.

Given the WandaVision commercial for Nexus (“Because the world doesn’t revolve around you!”) and the reality-warping nature of WandaVision, there’s some potential that the basement is connected to Marvel’s Nexus of Realities, a place where the worlds in its Multiverse touch – especially considering the viney, plantlike overgrowth in the basement, which bears some visual similarity to certain versions of the comic book Nexus.

(Image credit: Marvel Studios / Disney+)

Then there’s Nicholas Scratch, Harkness’s son who shares a name with an American folkloric nickname for the Christian devil (oddly enough, Nicholas Scratch was also the name of a devilish character on Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina).

Though he hasn’t specifically appeared in WandaVision, the reveal that Agatha Harkness is behind the return of Pietro Maximoff, who appears to be an ally of Agatha’s, calls into question whether the recast “Pietro” may actually be Nicholas Scratch. If so, Pietro secretly being a dark sorcerer may play into the pervasive rumors that Evan Peters could be revealed as Mephisto, especially considering that in comics, Scratch and Mephisto made a deal for power.

Weirdly, there’s another possibility for Pietro’s true identity. Could it be Agatha’s bunny?

As much as that may seem a stretch, in comic books, Agatha Harkness has a familiar named Ebony, a black cat that can shapeshift into a large black panther among other forms. Could that be an offbeat explanation for Pietro’s “recasting?”

At this point, there are far more questions about what Agatha Harkness’s presence in WandaVision means for both the show and the MCU, but the implications around Agatha’s part in what’s happening in Westview, and S.W.O.R.D. director Tyler Hayward’s apparent mission to revive the Vision, it’s possible that Harkness could have a massive impact on the future of the MCU – all the way up to the upcoming sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which will follow up on threads from WandaVision.

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