WARNING: The following contains minor spoilers for WandaVision Episode 7, “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” which is now airing on Disney +.
Agatha Harkness is known for her connection to the Scarlet Witch. As an occasional mentor to Wanda Maxmimoff, Agatha played a vital role within the world of the Avengers in the comics and, as WandaVision Just revealed, she also secretly played a crucial role in the world of the Scarlet Witch.
While that might be her claim to fame today, Agatha was originally part of the Fantastic Four world when she became Franklin Richards’ nanny and played a formative role in shaping the character’s early days that has often been called Marvel’s strongest Omega-level mutant even if he doesn’t feel that way right now.
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In 1970 Fantastic four # 94, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Agatha Harkness was introduced as young Franklin’s caregiver. After Franklin’s birth, his parents, Reed Richards and Sue Storm, realized that their lives were too dangerous for a child. The Fantastic Four arranged to meet a possible Franklin nanny in upstate New York. Agatha had been retired for years at this time, but was unable to decline FF’s offer after realizing who the FF were. The team was invited to stay with Agatha at her home, where the Terrified Four ambushed the Marvel First Family.
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With the FF incapacitated, Agatha had to protect Franklin. Agatha used the magic at her disposal to scare the villains, tormenting them until the Fantastic Four broke free. When Reed and Sue saw that Franklin was safe with Agatha, they decided to hire her as their new nanny. At this time, the Fantastic Four were unaware of Agatha’s power, although they aroused their suspicions.
Agatha did not reveal her mystical abilities to the Fantastic Four until the 1971 decade. Fantastic four # 110 by Lee and John Buscema. Reed was trapped in the Negative Zone and threatened by Annihilus. As a result, Agatha arrived and used her magic to help Reed escape. During the remainder of her time with the Fantastic Four, Agatha kept the team aware of the dangers ahead, such as Overmind and Air-Walker.
Agatha also acted as a communication medium for the Fantastic Four, putting them in contact with important figures such as The Watcher and the President of the United States. Perhaps Agatha’s most important contribution to the team was helping Franklin control his new emerging powers, in Fantastic four # 140 by Gerry Conway and John Buscema.
Agatha’s training, Franklin, became especially helpful in the pages of Fantastic four # 150 by Conway and Rich Buckler. During this story, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the Inhumans were at the mercy of Ultron. In the midst of this climactic battle, Agatha teleported a comatose Franklin to the scene. Once there, Franklin woke up and used his powers to completely destroy Ultron.
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Of course, Agatha’s time with the Fantastic Four was not meant to last. In Fantastic four # 185, by Len Wein and George Perez, Agatha and Franklin were captured by New Salem residents. This city was run by Nicholas Scratch, Agatha’s evil son. Fortunately, the Fantastic Four arrived to defeat the group of supervillains known as the Salem Seven and convince New Salem that Scratch was trying to turn them against Agatha for their own purposes. Agatha banished Scratch to the dark realm, where he remained.
Unfortunately, in Vision and the Scarlet Witch # 3, by Steve Englehart and Richard Howell, Salem’s Seven returned to power. This sinister group burned Agatha at the stake and took over New Salem. In a battle between the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, and the Salem Seven, New Salem was decimated and its inhabitants disappeared. Wanda channeled the energies of New Salem, apparently causing her original pregnancy.
Agatha revealed otherwise, however, in Avengers West Coast # 51 by John Byrne. Upon returning alive and well, Agatha revealed that Wanda’s children were actually created through shards stolen from Mephisto. After the demon reabsorbs Wanda’s children into himself, Agatha completely removed the memory of The Scarlet Witch about her children. Agatha would continue to train Wanda to use her powers, even helping her resurrect Wonder Man in Avengers # 11, by Kurt Busiek and George Perez.
Although she was much more concerned about the Avengers in her later years, Agatha has remained on friendly terms with the Fantastic Four and many other Marvel heroes. In the past year Fantastic Four: Antithesis # 4, by Mark Waid and Neal Adams, Agatha returned to help bring Reed back to Earth when he possessed the power of Galactus, and recently helped Peggy Carter and the Daughters of Liberty in Captain America.
While Agatha has been a legitimate helper to figures throughout the Marvel Universe, her first purpose was to keep an eye on Franklin Richards, a task that put her in charge of a figure who is destined to be one of her greatest heroes and most powerful beings. . While Franklin’s story could last until the last embers of the Marvel Universe are quenched, Agatha Harkness was a big part of his beginning.
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