What Has Happened to the Scarlet Witch's Powers Over the Years?

This is "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking," a feature spotlighting notable examples of retcons that don't fit into the framework of Abandoned an' Forsaked, which is specifically about stories that outright "overturn" older stories. There are many examples of "retroactive continuity" that do not actively abandon the works of the past. Some of them are minor, some of them are major, all of them are interesting enough to me that I figure that they are worth writing about.

Reader Ethan S. wanted to know what the deal was with the evolution of Scarlet Witch's powers over the years and how she gradually changed into being someone who could say "no more mutants" and, well, you know, there would suddenly be no more mutants.

When Scarlet Witch debuted in X-Men #4 (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Paul Reinman), her "hex powers" were incredibly ill-defined. She caused "bad luck" for people she did not like, but it seemed as though it was just marked by her making bad things happen for her enemy...

Like here, she just caused something bad to happen to the Angel...

This fits with the idea of her being a "witch" who is casting a spell on her enemy.

However, when she became a superhero (after initially being part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants), Stan Lee altered her powers slightly. By the way, as an aside, let me note that clearly Lee wasn't all that enamored with her power set, since when she joined the Avengers, while the other two members of the team, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch's brother, Quicksilver, both got scenes where they showed off their powers, Scarlet Witch got no such scene. Just a line about how, oh yeah, her hex powers are really neat, too.

In her first issue as a member of the Avengers, we see her hex powers in action, which has now been slightly altered to being her causing bad luck for her opponent...

That's not significantly different from "causing bad things to happen to her opponent," but it stresses the idea that her powers have to do with probabilities.

As you might have also noticed, Scarlet Witch's powers aren't very visually interesting. That's a problem in a visual medium like comic books, so in Avengers #21, artists Don Heck and Wallace Wood came up with the idea of visualizing Scarlet Witch's hexes as a "hex bolt"...

The problem there, of course, is that, well, what the heck does that mean? She just blasted the dude with, like, magic lightning! I guess the idea was that it only LOOKED like that, while in reality she just changed probabilities so that Hawkeye's arrows all fell out of his quiver or something like that?

However, the hex bolt was now here to stay, in all of its confusing glory.

In Avengers #128 (by Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema and Joe Staton), the Scarlet Witch began to study actual magic...

However, the biggest change in Scarlet Witch's power set did not happen until John Byrne took over writing duties on West Coast Avengers more than a decade later!

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