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THE WITCHES OF NEW SALEM

Membership: Brutacus, Gazelle, Hydron, Reptilla, Thornn, Vakume, Vertigo, 657 unidentified members;
formerly Agatha Harkness, Nicholas Scratch

Purpose: To live their lives free of persecution from the outside world

Aliases: None

Affiliations: Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange), the Eliminator, the Fantastic Four (Human Torch/Johnny Storm, Invisible Girl/Sue Richards, Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards, Thing/Ben Grimm), Gabriel the Devil-Hunter, New Warriors (Justice/Vance Astrovik, Speedball/Robbie Baldwin), Franklin Richards;
formerly Agatha Harkness

Enemies: Agatha Harkness, Alicia Masters, Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff), Nicholas Scratch, Vision ("Victor Shade");
formerly the Fantastic Four (Human Torch/Johnny Storm, Invisible Girl/Sue Richards, Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards, Thing/Ben Grimm), Agatha Harkness, Franklin Richards

Base of Operations: New Salem, Colorado, USA

First Appearance: (behind-the-scenes): Fantastic Four I#181 (April, 1977)
(seen with faced obscured): Fantastic Four I#182 (May, 1977);
(fully seen and identified as witches): Fantastic Four I#185 (August, 1977)

History: (Fantastic Four I#186 (fb) - BTS) - Following their persecution in Salem, Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials, the surviving witches left humanity behind in favor of founding their own community hidden in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, which they called New Salem in an effort to never forget the persecution their kind had previously suffered.

(Fantastic Four I Annual#14 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, in an effort to hide themselves from the outside world, the suspicious Witches of New Salem mystically disguised the route into their Colorado community.

(Fantastic Four I#186 (fb) - BTS) - Centuries later, after the Witches of New Salem swore to never involve themselves with mortal men again, the New Salem Witch leader Agatha Harkness decided to leave the other Witches of New Salem to return to a life among normal men, an act seen as deserting her own people.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#9 - BTS) - The Witches of New Salem's numbers eventually grew to encompass 666 members.

(Vision & the Scarlet Witch II#3 (fb) - BTS) - During her time as the Scarlet Witch's mentor, Agatha Harkness informed Scarlet Witch that she came from a village housing the Witches of New Salem.

(Fantastic Four I#181 - BTS) - The Witches of New Salem, still feeling as if Agatha Harkness was a traitor, pursued Agatha who, sensing she was being pursued, kidnapped Franklin Richards in hopes that he could help in warding off the Witches.

(Fantastic Four I#182) - The Witches invaded Agatha Harkness' Whisper Hill home and after telling Franklin that "bad men" were after her and had been for years, Agatha sensed the Witches and saw their shadows atop her staircase. When Franklin admitted that he didn't see anything, Agatha explained that the Witches were nonetheless there and she fought back with a blast of magical fire that revealed the Witches' presence. One of the Witches managed to absorb the fire into the palm of his hand and Agatha prepared to protect Franklin, only to be stopped by one of the Witches' guns, which projected restraints meant to stop Agatha from casting any further spells. The Fantastic Four's Invisible Girl and her friend Alicia Masters arrived soon after, seeking Franklin from Agatha's custody, only to witness the Witches of New Salem teleport away with the captive Franklin and Agatha.

(Fantastic Four I#184 - BTS) - Invisible Girl related the story of Franklin and Agatha being kidnapped by the Witches of New Salem to Mr. Fantastic. When Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl and the Thing subsequently investigated Agatha Harkness' Whisper Hills home, they found an injured Human Torch and the Witches of New Salem's Eliminator robot, who proclaimed that he had been programmed to eliminate all evidence that Agatha Harkness had ever lived among the "primitive" mortals, including killing those who considered Harkness a friend. During his battle with the Fantastic Four, the Eliminator proclaimed that his masters would deal with Franklin Richards in their own way but the Fantastic Four eventually tricked the Eliminator in self-destructing, causing an explosion that destroyed Agatha Harkness' Whisper Hills home.

(Fantastic Four I#185) - Having tracked the Eliminator's origins to Colorado, the Fantastic Four found the Witches' New Salem town among the Rocky Mountains there and decided to investigate. The Fantastic Four (in civilian guises) were soon met by the Witches' leader, Nicholas Scratch, who introduced himself as mayor as several of the New Salem witches cautiously watched the strangers to their town while keeping up the facade of being everyday townsfolk. As Scratch spoke with Reed and Sue Richards, and Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm split up to look around town, Agatha Harkness watched from her window as the Witch guarding her room warned her to keep Franklin Richards quiet. Agatha responded that if it were olden times, the witch would not dare speak to her in such a way but the witch merely replied that they would never know. When Agatha soon acted to keep the Fantastic Four from leaving New Salem by generating a wall of flame to bar their exit, the New Salem townsfolk revealed themselves as witches and announced that their ruse had failed. The Witches of New Salem then explained that the Fantastic Four could now never leave New Salem since they knew of their existence. Unsure of what to do with the Fantastic Four, the Witches of New Salem cleared the way for Nicholas Scratch, who revealed himself as the "Most High" of the Witches and announced that he would do as he pleased with the Fantastic Four as long as he held Franklin Richards captive. The Witches of New Salem then watched as the Fantastic Four jumped into action to rescue Franklin, only to met by stone gargoyles mystically animated by Nicholas Scratch. The Fantastic Four made quick work of the gargoyles, however, and Scratch halted their animation in favor of beginning the final phase of his plan to stop the Fantastic Four. Ordering the Witches to begin the phase, Scratch had the Witches of New Salem join hands and combine their mystic forces to force the Thing to uncontrollably pummel first himself then Mr. Fantastic. After all but the Thing had been defeated, the Thing turned towards the Witches and prepared to battle all of the Witches alone but Scratch knocked the Thing unconscious using his Satan-Staff. Scratch then stood over the downed Thing and proclaimed the Fantastic Four fools to think they could stand against an entire town ruled by witches.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#9 - Salem's Seven entry - BTS) - The Witches of New Salem's leader, Nicholas Scratch, specially selected seven Witches of New Salem to become the superhuman Salem's Seven to act against the Fantastic Four.

(Fantastic Four I#186) - After the Fantastic Four were placed in a cell alongside Agatha Harkness and Franklin Richards, Nicholas Scratch and a New Salem witch acting as a bailiff appeared, proclaiming that Agatha had been found guilty of treason against New Salem and that the punishment was public execution. Agatha reluctantly went with them, assuring the Fantastic Four that the Witches of New Salem were doing what must be done and Scratch promised to return to pass sentence on the Fantastic Four following Agatha's death. Scratch and the bailiff witch then led Agatha up a set of stairs, where Agatha asked Scratch why he was sentencing her to death. Scratch replied that it was what Agatha deserved for deserting the Witches of New Salem and she would pay the price for her desire to leave the Witches. Once above ground, as the other Witches of New Salem watched, Nicholas Scratch announced that Agatha had been tried by the other Witches and was found guilty of revealing the secret of the Witches' very existence. As Agatha insisted the law against New Salem Witches fraternizing with the rest of humanity was archaic, the Fantastic Four escaped their cell by defeating the Witch guard but they were soon met by a group of New Salem Witches who had been given superhuman powers as the Salem's Seven to counteract the Fantastic Four. Following a fierce battle, the Salem's Seven were depowered when the spell granting their powers was canceled due to the then-artificial nature of Mr. Fantastic's abilities and the Fantastic Four arrived to save Agatha moments before a group of New Salem Witches executed her. Despite Agatha's pleading to not interfere, Mr. Fantastic asked the Witches of New Salem to hear him out and proceeded to announce that never in his time knowing Agatha did Agatha betray the trust of the Witches of New Salem by revealing their existence. When Mr. Fantastic suggested that it was actually Nicholas Scratch himself that had revealed their existence by kidnapping Franklin Richards and thereby leading the unknowing Fantastic Four there in the first place, Scratch denied the accusations but attacked one of the New Salem Witches when he wished to hear more of what Mr. Fantastic had to say. Upon seeing Scratch attack one of their own, the Witches of New Salem realized the truth that it was Scratch who had betrayed them and they joined their magical might together to cast the Spell of Eternal Banishment. The spell was soon completed and Scratch was banished, begging Agatha to help him as he disappeared, and the Fantastic Four were given a sincere apology from the Witches of New Salem and allowed to leave. As the Fantastic Four departed, they noticed that the entire town of New Salem seemed to vanish and Agatha confirmed that the Witches of New Salem had gone to a better place, where the memories of the past could be healed. She then admitted that she wished the Witches well.

(Fantastic Four I Annual#14 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, the Witches of New Salem returned their community to the Colorado Rocky Mountains and Agatha Harkness began taking annual trips to visit her former home.

(Fantastic Four I#223 (fb) - BTS) - Under Agatha Harkness' leadership, the Witches of New Salem lived peacefully, no longer hating humanity.

(Fantastic Four I Annual#14) - After inviting the Fantastic Four to join her on her annual sojourn to New Salem and the FF had trouble locating New Salem in its original location, Agatha explained that the Witches of New Salem had long since disguised the route leading into their town and the Fantastic Four soon found themselves right in the middle of town, where several Witches of New Salem greeted them, unaware that the Salem's Seven had remained loyal to Nicholas Scratch and were attempting to summon him back. As several of the Witches (as well as non-Witch New Salem residents like a succubus) greeted the Fantastic Four, Agatha revealed that the Witches of New Salem would be honored to have the Fantastic Four as their guests for their annual Ceremony of Renewal. Later that night, the Witches of New Salem gathered together for the Ceremony of Renewal and Agatha Harkness herself began the Ceremony, with the Witches of New Salem joining their mystic power with Agatha to cleanse and renew their own magical power through her. Unfortunately, Salem's Seven chose that moment to act and they absorbed the combined power from Agatha Harkness to return Nicholas Scratch from his banishment. As Scratch announced his plans to destroy humanity, he restored Salem's Seven's powers and left the other Witches of New Salem in a trance-like state as he used their stolen power. When Scratch defeated the Fantastic Four in front of the entranced Witches, Franklin Richards ran for his life and eventually made his way to the equally entranced Agatha Harkness, unconsciously using his own mutant powers to restore Agatha and the frozen Witches. The Witches of New Salem quickly realized their entranced state had been caused by the revived Nicholas Scratch and, after learning that Scratch had absconded with the Fantastic Four, Agatha and Franklin returned to New York to find Scratch preparing to destroy humanity. After saving the Fantastic Four, Agatha used boosted power from Franklin Richards to return Salem's Seven back to New Salem and once again banish Scratch, removing everyone in New York's memories of the event.

(Fantastic Four I#222 (fb) - BTS) - From his extradimensional banishment, Nicholas Scratch thought about how he had attempted to destroy humanity in favor of letting his fellow Witches of New Salem rule Earth.

(Fantastic Four I#223) - When Nicholas Scratch took possession of Franklin Richards' body, the Fantastic Four, Agatha Harkness and their ally Gabriel the Devil-Hunter traveled to New Salem, where two of the Witches of New Salem guarded the cell housing the Salem's Seven. As the FF entered New Salem, the two Witches did not notice the energy signature of the FF's arrival. Inside New Salem, the captive Salem's Seven monologued about their previous defeat at the Fantastic Four's hands and Hydron remarked that the Witches of New Salem had become weak under Agatha Harkness' leadership and that they no longer hated humanity. Feeling as if the other Witches of New Salem would not aid them, the Salem's Seven bemoaned how the other Witches had imprisoned them following Nicholas Scratch's earlier attempt to destroy humanity. When the Salem's Seven planned to somehow enslave the Witches of New Salem and use their combined power, Nicholas Scratch took possession of Brutacus and informed the Salem's Seven that the Fantastic Four had arrived in New Salem with Franklin Richards, whom Scratch now controlled. Ordering the Salem's Seven to escape, Scratch took possession of the two Witch guards outside to allow the Seven's escape. Scratch then took leave of the Witch guards after warning the Salem's Seven of Gabriel the Devil-Hunter and the Seven made quick work of the now-confused guards. On orders from Scratch, the Salem's Seven then opted to prevent the other Witches of New Salem from interfering in Scratch's plan by knocking the Witches of New Salem unconscious using a combination of Vakume and Vertigo's powers. Agatha Harkness subsequently revealed New Salem with a spell and when she did so, the Fantastic Four and their allies found the unconscious Witches of New Salem and Nicholas Scratch revealed that the fallen Witches were part of his doing. Eventually, the Fantastic Four were captured and Agatha Harkness telepathically convinced Scratch to give up his plan and when Scratch released Franklin, Scratch was returned to New Salem and the fallen Witches of New Salem were revived. As the Fantastic Four subsequently prepared to leave New Salem, Agatha decided to remain in New Salem to lead the Witches of New Salem and watch over both Scratch and the Salem's Seven.

(Vision & the Scarlet Witch II#3 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, the Salem's Seven escaped captivity and ultimately turned Agatha Harkness' magic against her, restoring their mystic powers. Salem's Seven member Vertigo was soon acclaimed as the new leader of the 666 Witches of New Salem and convinced the Witches to burn Agatha at the stake.

(Vision & the Scarlet Witch II#3) - Several of the Witches of New Salem, alongside the Salem's Seven, bound Agatha Harkness in ropes that prevented her from magically fighting back and they burned Agatha at the stake. As she seemingly died, Agatha cursed the Witches of New Salem and the Salem's Seven worried that Agatha might possess enough power to carry out her curse but Vertigo assured them that the Witches of New Salem were now supreme among the witches of the world and that Agatha was dead. When Vision and Scarlet Witch subsequently discovered the hidden New Salem community, the Salem's Seven attacked them and Scarlet Witch recognized the name "New Salem" from stories Agatha Harkness had once told her about the Witches of New Salem. After the Salem's Seven defeated Vision and Scarlet Witch, Vertigo invited Scarlet Witch to leave humanity behind and join the coven of the Salem Seven's as part of the Witches of New Salem but Scarlet Witch refused despite Vertigo's remarking that it would be an opportune time since the Feast of Lammas was set to begin soon. When Vertigo revealed that the Witches' first sacrifice during the Feast would be their sister Gazelle, who remarked that Agatha Harkness used to lead the Witches of New Salem, Scarlet Witch thought that perhaps Agatha had led her to New Salem but Vertigo, sensing Scarlet Witch's thoughts, revealed that the Witches of New Salem had killed Agatha. Announcing that they had turned Agatha's magics back to restore the Salem's Seven's powers, Vertigo then proclaimed herself queen of the Witches of New Salem and again invited Scarlet Witch to join them. Scarlet Witch again refused and when the Salem's Seven left, Scarlet Witch wondered why Gazelle was not more helpful but Gazelle replied that she was proud to die for her people and that while it was true that Vertigo was consolidating her power as leader of the Witches of New Salem, Gazelle was happy to die appeasing her winter god. After hearing Scarlet Witch's loving words towards her husband Vision, Gazelle realized that Scarlet Witch need not die and agreed to aid in their plan, and the following morning, the Salem's Seven came to acquire Gazelle, knocking out Scarlet Witch and bringing them before the Witches of New Salem. As the Witches of New Salem watched, however, Vision absorbed energy from the sun and broke free, prompting Vertigo to fight back by absorbing the combined magical power of the Witches of New Salem. Vision was nonetheless victorious and as Vertigo lay defeated, she lost control of the combined Witches' power, causing it to blast freely throughout New Salem as the Witches of New Salem ran for their lives. In an effort to save lives, Scarlet Witch used Agatha Harkness' teachings to absorb the combined mystic power and channel it into the Rocky Mountains themselves, thereby grounding the power.

(New Warriors IV#1 (fb) - BTS) - With the Salem's Seven still leading the Witches of New Salem, the town began allowing anyone born of magic to live there and the Witches began living alongside several different magical beings, with Sorcerer Supreme Dr. Strange even occasionally sending beings to New Salem.

(New Warriors IV#1) - Several Witches of New Salem walked the streets of New Salem as the New Warriors mended ways with the Salem's Seven, whom they had earlier fought when Speedball misunderstood Brutacus' intentions. While Speedball played video games with Brutacus, Vertigo showed Justice around New Salem with some of the Witches of New Salem walking around unnoticingly.

(New Warriors IV#2) - When agents of the High Evolutionary attacked Justice in New Salem, several bystanding Witches of  New Salem ran for safety as Justice and the Salem's Seven's Vertigo battled the agents. The Witches of New Salem then watched in shock when the agents suddenly teleported away.

(New Warriors IV#12) - After the High Evolutionary activated a weapon that weaponized the genetic code of anyone greater than a baseline human, several of the Witches of New Salem fell to the ground in pain alongside other superhumanly powerful beings all over Earth.

Comments: Created by Bill Mantlo, Len Wein, Jim Shooter, Archie Goodwin, Sal Buscema and Joe Sinnott.

While the Witches of New Salem were not seen or even mentioned in Fantastic Four I#181, the Official Marvel Index to the Fantastic Four I#11 established that they were pursuing Agatha in that issue.

Profile by Proto-Man.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Witches of New Salem have no known connections to:


images: (without ads)
Fantastic Four I#185, p10, pan6 (the assembled Witches of New Salem, main image)
Fantastic Four I#185, p11, pan2 (headshots of the various Witches)
Fantastic Four I#185, p11, pan3 (Nicholas Scratch leading the Witches of New Salem)
Fantastic Four I Annual#14, p7-8, pan2 (large group of Witches of New Salem greeting the Fantastic Four as they arrived in New Salem)


Appearances:
Fantastic Four I#181 (April, 1977) - Roy Thomas (writer, editor), Ron Wilson, Joe Sinnott (art)
Fantastic Four I#182 (May, 1977) - Bill Mantlo (script), Len Wein, Jim Shooter (plot), Archie Goodwin (plot, editor), Sal Buscema, Joe Sinnott (art)
Fantastic Four I#184 (July, 1977) - Len Wein (writer, editor), George Perez (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks)
Fantastic Four I#185 (August, 1977) - Len Wein (writer, editor), George Perez, Joe Sinnott (art)
Fantastic Four I#186 (September, 1977) - Len Wein (writer, editor), George Perez, Joe Sinnott (art)
Fantastic Four I Annual#14 (December, 1979) - Marv Wolfman (co-plot, script, editor), George Perez (co-plot, pencils), Pablo Marcos (inks)
Fantastic Four I#222 (September, 1980) - Doug Moench (writer), Bill Sienkiewicz, Joe Sinnott (art), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Fantastic Four I#223 (October, 1980) - Doug Moench (writer), Bill Sienkiewicz, Joe Sinnott (art), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#9 (September, 1983) - Mark Gruenwald (head writer, designer, editor), Eliot R. Brown (tech writer, typesetter), Peter Sanderson, Mark Leber, Danny Fingeroth (writers), June Brigman (Salem's Seven pencils), Josef Rubinstein (inks)
Vision  & the Scarlet Witch II#3 (December, 1985) - Steve Englehart (writer), Richard Howell (pencils), Jim Mooney (inks), Jim Salicrup (editor)
New Warriors V#1 (April, 2014) - Christopher Yost (writer), Marcus To (art), Sana Amanat (editor)
New Warriors V#2 (May, 2014) - Christopher Yost (writer), Marcus To (art), Sana Amanat (editor)
New Warriors V#12 (January, 2015) - Christopher Yost, Erik Burnham (writers), Marcus To (art), Devin Lewis (editor)


First Posted: 10/22/2018
Last updated: 10/22/2018

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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