With the Red Skull defeated and the Unity squad (mostly) intact, Rogue is left to pick up the pieces – specifically the piece of Xavier’s brain that made the Skull a telepathic monster. When Captain HydrAmerica shows up to confiscate the biological WMD, how will Rogue react?
Uncanny Avengers #22 Review
This month’s outing for the Avengers Unity Squad picks up right where the last issue ended, with Rogue rushing an unconscious Red Skull into emergency brain surgery to remove the bits of Charles Xavier’s mind that granted the vermillion villain his telepathic powers. It’s the culmination of a plot point that tracks all the way back to the first issue of the first Uncanny Avengers series in 2012. It’s an important milestone in the Marvel universe, especially considering all the madness that has been going on with the build to the whole Secret Empire – and yet it sort of arrives with a thud. It should be a monumental moment when the enemy’s biggest gun gets taken out, but this issue deals with the aftermath in a rather detached way.
Nowhere is this more blatant than the reactions of the Avengers who, despite the ordeals they’ve just been through, are cracking jokes about the whole thing. Like, I get that most of these characters have been through some shit in their day (Wasp in particular), but the only one seemingly reacting in a normal and logical (for him) way is Deadpool. In the last issue our boy, Wade was beaten into a pile of red mush by a mind-controlled Rogue and left so injured that – despite his healing factor – he’s seen walking with a cane for much of this issue. Wilson still manages to crack a joke here and there (him saving that bottle of scotch for whenever Wolverine comes back is particularly great), but they all show some degree of ennui or other emotional baggage. Compare that with Brother Voodoo’s light hearted jokes despite the familial ordeal he experienced in the past few weeks, and it just seems off that Deadpool is the only character dealing with the emotional weight.
More confusing is his interaction with Rogue near the end of the issue. I can understand Rogue feeling bad about what she did to him while under the Skulls’ control, but why would they hardcore makeout? Rogue asking Wade if he hates her for what she’s done before grabbing and kissing him is also problematic to me. Rogue is historically written as a strong independent women, confident in her actions and able to detach her emotions when she needs to make a difficult but smart decision. I guess that’s also juxtaposed with her being treated as a fanboy sex object. I don’t want to imply that strong women can’t be sex positive, and someone who spent most of her life unable to touch anyone else without killing them may have fewer hang ups than most about physical affection, but as someone who’s been reading the character for most of my life, her sudden interest in Wilson feels off. Her relationships with Gambit and Magneto were developed and contextual, but this dalliance with Deadpool feels like the throwaway line about her sexual relationship with the Sentry several years back. It didn’t add anything to the character, it didn’t play into a storyline, it was just thrown out there to prop up the legacy of a male character – and that’s what this feels like.
Moving past that rant, her passionate embrace of Deadpool weakens Rogue enough to bring out the semi-corporeal form of Wonder Man in case you forgot that plot point from a billion years ago. The appears to be the launching point for our next arc, which is something I’m not terribly excited about.
More exciting, however, is the appearance of Captain America, who attempts to confiscate the remaining portion of Xavier’s brains for what would almost assuredly be some nefarious purpose. Rogue, literally holding a box containing a chunk of her father-figure’s brain, is not willing to have the U.S. government take custody of what is not only a literal piece of her mentor but a very dangerous weapon and opts to have the Human Torch destroy it instead. While it’s a smart move and definitely makes sense for Rogue, I think the most interesting aspect of it is the effect this will have on the forthcoming Secret Empire event. With Skull’s connection to Xavier’s psychic powers severed, his grasp on Rogers and Kobik should create an environment ripe for revolutions.
This is a bit of a bland issue. I’m not terribly fond of the character development on Rogue or the regression of the others, and could care less about Wonder Man’s return. The bits with Rogers and the Skull are interesting enough and the art – like always – is top notch, but this felt like padding the story rather than adding anything meaningful to it.