SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for "Uncanny Avengers" #18, on sale now.
Fresh off their victory against the Hand and their mission to resurrect the Hulk as a member of their evil ninja organization, Rogue and the remnants of the Avengers Unity Squad still have the threat of the Red Skull to contend with. The Skull has been scheming against the team for a while now, and "Uncanny Avengers" #18 finally sees the villain make his move against the team.
The issue from Gerry Duggan and Kevin Libranda starts out with a scene longtime X-readers will be familiar with: "Uncanny X-Men" #171, the issue in which Rogue joins the team despite her history as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
The flashback is revealed to be Rogue's dream, one that transforms into a nightmare when the Red Skull steps in, cuts out Professor Xavier's brain -- and begins to eat it. Rogue startles herself awake, and we learn that the Red Skull has been using his newfound telepathy (which he has because he has Xavier's brain in his head) to attack Rogue during her sleep. Otherwise, the psychic defenses Xavier taught Rogue years ago have rendered her almost immune to the Red Skull's interference. Rogue's the key to Red Skull's plan, as he believes controlling her will give him enough power to pull off his still mysterious endgame.
Still, Red Skull does have Quicksilver in his thrall. Red Skull triggers his control over Quicksilver and the speedster quickly takes out his teammates Doctor Voodoo, Human Torch, Synapse and Wasp.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Unity Squad -- Deadpool, Cable and Rogue -- are holed up in their Manhattan headquarters. There, Cable realizes that Rogue's bad dreams are actually Red Skull knocking on her brain's door.
After getting a distress call from the Wasp, the trio prepares for an attack from a speedster. Their defenses aren't enough, and the mind-controlled Quicksilver breaks in and quickly disables Cable's cybernetic arm. Quicksilver intends to stab Rogue with a syringe, but Deadpool throws himself in its path.
Red Skull tells Rogue that he's waiting for her at the old Avengers mansion and then makes Quicksilver speed away. Deadpool and Rogue begin to plan their next move. Rogue tells Deadpool to stay put while she goes and attempts to rescue their captured teammates. She also gives Wade Wilson a mission: "Find Gambit and Magneto."
Deadpool replies: "You want me to form a team... of your former boyfriends?"
Rogue, who has grown surprisingly close to Deadpool over this run, reveals that she has faith that Wade will come through for her. She even compares this incident to a classic X-Men story.
Upon arriving at Avengers Mansion, however, Rogue finds herself affected by Red Skull's telepathic tricks. She almost kills Human Torch, who Red Skull had mentally disguised as himself. But before the Skull can make his final move, his (or rather Xavier's) brain gets blown out...
...except not really. Rogue thinks she sees Deadpool, smoking gun in hand, across the street waving from a rooftop. From Rogue's POV, Wade's disobeyed her and sniped Red Skull, thus stopping the threat. In reality, the last page reveals that Skull's assassination was a mental trick devised by the villain himself. He wasn't shot in the head, and now -- mentally disguised as Xavier -- the Red Skull has Rogue in his thrall.
At the end of "Uncanny Avengers" #18, Red Skull has everything he's been fighting for. The members of the Unity Squad are his prisoners, Rogue and Quicksilver are under his control, and only Deadpool remains unaccounted for. Of course Deadpool's also on a mission: get backup. The solicit text for March's "Uncanny" #21 even teases that Wade might succeed in this mission: "Rogue’s gambit works. When the Red Skull gains the upper hand, Deadpool gets help from a few pals." But in the meantime, the heroes will have to survive the mental horrors the Red Skull has waiting for them.
"Uncanny Avengers" #19 arrives in stores on January 11, 2017.