Witches are a staple of the Halloween season, and have been a part of pop culture since “pop culture” was just sharing campfire stories. They appear in books, movies, television… and comic books. But who are comicdom’s witchiest witches? And by that, we mean witches that they follow at least a few of the most well known traditional witch tropes we celebrate during Halloween: Flying on broomsticks, pointed hats, casting spells, bubbly cauldrons, the works. We’ve boiled it down to nine ladies who fulfill our criteria.
And for the purposes of this list, no comic book witches that first appeared in other media appear. Apologies to Buffy’s Willow Rosenberg and the witches of the Land of Oz. We now present to you nine of the comic book medium’s most witchiest witches of all time, beginning with one who got her start nearly a century ago!
The Sea Hag
King Features Syndicate
Nowadays, witches in pop culture are usually portrayed in a stereotypically sexy way. But once upon a time, they were almost always shown as the withered old hags of folk tales. In the Popeye comic strip, one of his most frequent foils was one such witch—an old decrepit woman who called herself the Sea Hag. She referred to herself as “the last witch on Earth,” and sailed around on a pirate ship causing trouble. She fell head over heels for Popeye, but the spinach loving sailor man only had eyes for his Olive Oyl. Enraged, the Sea Hag spent years using every magical trick in the book on old Popeye. But his moral code never allowed him to hit a lady, so the Sea Hag kept coming back to cause trouble again and again.
Chalk this one up to another “old lady and her cat” witch stereotype. Introduced in the pages of Fantastic Four as the nanny of Reed and Sue Richard’s son Franklin, she later revealed herself to be a powerful witch who originally came from Salem (because of course). She had a black cat who was always at her side, but which could turn into a ferocious black panther when trouble arose. It was Agatha who tutored the Scarlet Witch and instructed her on how to become a true sorceress. But she was also killed by her during the Avengers Disassembled storyline. Luckily, she got better, and continues to spread her witchy wisdom across the Marvel universe.
One of Wonder Woman‘s greatest villains, this witch originated in Greek mythology as the enchantress made famous by Homer’s Odyssey. Although she first first fought Diana Prince back in 1949, she more or less vanished from Wonder Woman’s comics for decades. But starting in the ’80s, she became one of Diana’s primary antagonists. Modern writers gave her a history of conflict with the Amazons, making her and Wonder Woman perfect rivals. Much like Luthor and Superman, her villainy is rooted in jealousy in part. In one story, she even became her own version of Wonder Woman!
Here’s a character who has two distinct iterations at the big two. Marvel’s Enchantress came first, appearing in 1964. Amora was an ancient Asgardian who had honed many magical powers aside from her own innate Asgardian abilities. She became a thorn in the side of Thor’s for decades. She fought not only the Odinson, but also the Avengers. Her powers range from the typical glamour spells to those resurrecting the dead.
DC Comics introduced their own Enchantress two years later. June Moon was a more stereotypical looking witch, complete with pointed hat and broom. And like her Marvel counterpart, she loved the color green. Her classic ’60s origin story was very of its time. June Moon went to a costume party in an old castle dressed as a witch, when a mystical being inside said castle granted her real magical abilities, because reasons. We’ve seen more medieval, almost demonic versions of the Enchantress in later years—specifically in Suicide Squad—but June Moon’s original incarnation is her most “witchy.” And still the best one.
Wendy the Good Little Witch
This witch was aimed at a much younger audience than most of the more well known superhero characters, but nevertheless is a pop culture icon. For decades, she’s been a part of the Harvey Comics universe, along with characters like Caspar the Friendly Ghost and Hot Stuff. She fits almost all the traditional witch tropes, and even has a hoodie that looks like a witch’s hat. Although not around as much these days as her ’60s heyday, she nevertheless held her own title for decades. Thus making her one of comics’ longest running witch characters.
Every big superhero team needs their resident magic user, and the Justice League’s is Zatanna. Although she poses as a top hat-wearing stage magician, Zatanna is actually a powerful sorceress in reality. Like her famous father Zatara, her incantations are of a very specific kind. as she has to say the words of what she desires backwards for the spell to work. As a member of a magical branch of humanity called the Homo Magi, her mystical abilities have been a great asset to the League over the years.
The Scarlet Witch
She’s maybe the most famous superhero with the word “Witch” as part of her name. But did you know she wasn’t originally a real witch at all? When she was introduced in 1964’s X-Men #4, as a character who had the mutant power to project “hexes.” Basically, she could make bad stuff happen at random moments. But in the ’70s, Wanda discovered that she could use her powers to tap into Chaos magic, and became a true sorceress. She became powerful enough that she once altered all of reality itself in House of M.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch
The most famous witch in comics isn’t from Marvel or DC, but from Archie Comics. Sabrina the Teenage Witch is known in the mainstream mostly due to her various popular TV series, but she started out by causing all kinds of magical mischief on the printed page. She first appeared in a 1962 issue of Archie, but was so popular she soon gained her own long running series. A half mortal, Sabrina lives in the town of Greendale with her equally witchy aunts, and mostly got into wholesome hijinks. That is, until the modern reboot The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina took things down a a darker path. But whether it’s old school Sabrina or her more modern counterpart, she’s long been comics’ most high profile and iconic witch.
Featured Image: DC Comics / Archie Comics / Marvel Comics