Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #25

Issue Date: 
December 2014
Story Title: 
The Low Road

Rick Remender (writer), Daniel Acuna (artist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Paul Renaud (cover artist), Khoi Pham & Frank D’Amato (variant cover artists), Tom Brevoort & Daniel Ketchum (editors), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

On Genosha, the Red Skull has put Rogue, Havok and the Scarlet Witch under his control, and prattles about his plan in a cryptic manner, while warning Magneto to bow to him and in turn he will spare the Scarlet Witch’s mind. Magneto resists, but the Red Skull forces him down and stands on his head - so Magneto responds by magnetically ripping Ahab’s spear from his hand and shoving it against the Red Skull. This releases the heroes’ from his hold, and a battle against the S-Men and Ahab begins. During the battle, the Scarlet Witch thinks at length about her complicated relationship with Magneto, before they are both tossed near a building, and inside it, they find several prisoners hooked up to machines. Magneto tries to convince the Scarlet Witch that they must kill the Red Skull and his men. Rogue battles against Ahab, who takes her down. Magneto and the Scarlet Witch confront the S-Men, and Wanda believes that she is the one thing in the world that Magneto loves enough to change for - but when he seemingly kills the S-Men by squashing them under metal debris, so grows concerned - and Magneto traps her in metal bonds so that she is kept out of his way, as he marches over to the Red Skull, and starts to kick and punch him. Wanda urges her father to stop, but Magneto is relentless. The Red Skull berates Magneto, who then lifts up a pile of bricks and slams them down on the Red Skull’s face, to the horror of the Scarlet Witch and Havok. Rogue soon joins her teammates, and is shocked by Magneto’s actions. However, a blast of energy rises from the Red Skull’s body, knocking Wanda, Havok and Magneto aside, Rogue looks up at the creature that is born from the Red Skull’s form - the Red Onslaught!

Full Summary: 

Genosha, where the rain beats down over a sprawling mutant prison. The Red Skull stands with his second in command, the mutant hating Ahab, and several of the S-Men - Dancing Water, Goat-Faced Girl, Fei Lian, the Insect and Mzee. With stolen telepathic power at his command, the Red Skull announces that the devilish thing about other people is that they refuse to conform to the wishes of their betters - but, fortunately for him, those days are past, and the world will now bend entirely to his whims. ‘Genetic pigs, polluting our world, will be relegated to their appropriate stations - servants of man’. The Red Skull declares, adding that the world is guided by one hand - his. ‘And a fine new hand it is’ he grins. As Magneto stands nearby, the Red Skull tells him that it is curious that he continues to live in that helmet to guard against telepathic intrusion so long after Xavier’s demise. ‘It doesn’t take a mind reader to know why it frightens you so, Magnus. It is not the evil that might be uncovered within - it is the emptiness’.

The Red Skull steps towards three powerful mutants who stand mesmerized against a building. Rogue. The Scarlet Witch. Havok. The Red Skull looks into the eyes of Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch and tells Magneto ‘A willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve your means. Including the gross manipulation of your own daughter. Tsk tsk. Oh, dear, she despises you, Magnus’. The Red Skull reveals that Wanda’s hatred is one that matches his own. ‘Used by her father. Driven mad for his purpose. If only she knew how important she truly is. Shaper of reality. Key to opening my Eternal Reich. And, oh - the glorious world we will create’. The Red Skull turns back to Magneto and tells him that it will, in fact, take little persuasion, for the population is indifferent to the date of the downtrodden and marginalized - an eminently exploitable aspect of the human condition, as they both well know.

‘That makes you angry? Almost as much as my ghoulish excavation of Xavier’s gifts, I’d wager’ the Red Skull remarks. He stares Magneto in the face, telling him that he doesn’t need telepathy to bring him to his knees. ‘You will do so willingly’ the Red Skull announces. ‘To ensure the safety of the daughter you have so mistreated’. The Red Skull adds that he doesn’t need to ease Wanda’s mind to use her, as he could just as easily leave her intact if so motivated - perhaps by a sign of respect. ‘Bow to me in reverence… and I will spare her mind’ the Red Skull declares. Magneto narrows his eyes in response, before dropping to his knees. ‘There now, little pig. Down, down into the mud whence you came’ the Red Skull grins, before he puts a foot to Magneto’s head and forces him into the mud. ‘Now swear to serve me! Swear it!’ the Red Skull shouts. Magneto grits his teeth, and replies ‘I swear… I will kill you’ and with that, a confused Ahab is forced to release his harpoon, thanks to Magneto’s control over metal, the harpoon is flung from Ahab’s hand and slams into the Red Skull’s face, breaking several of his teeth, knocking him back, and freeing Rogue, Wanda and Alex “Havok” Summers from his psychic hold.

‘Skull’s down - now’s our chance - assemble on their asses!’ Rogue exclaims as she, Havok, Wanda and Magneto prepare to face Ahab, Dancing Water, Mzee, Goat-Faced girl, Fei Lian and the Insect. ‘You love playing warden so much, Ahab… I’m sure you’ll love a good prison riot!’ Rogue declares as she uses the ionic energy of Wonder Man inside her form to punch Ahab backwards so hard that he goes right through the outer wall of one of the prison buildings, smashing into it. As Havok unleashes a blast of energy at Mzee, the tortoise-like mutant calls out to Goat-Faced Girl, telling her to neutralize Havok’s demon gifts. The Goat-Faced Girl stands near Havok, and her eyes flash as she does as requested. Havok finds himself powerless, as Dancing Water approaches him, telling him that it is a shame what he has done to his face - ‘But fitting that the corruption inside you is laid bare for all to see - ugliness we S-Men will expose in all mutants!’ Dancing Water declares as she traps Havok in a bubble of water, and tosses him towards Rogue.

‘No. You will die. As all Nazi filth dies’ Magneto declares as he uses his control over metal to drop a large beam down on Dancing Water and Goat-Faced Girl - the impact sends them flying into the air. As Wanda kicks the Insect in the face, knocking him back, she recalls that she hasn’t been in her father’s presence for some time - a conscious choice, that is, for the longer they are apart, the easier it is to forget the effects his rage has on her. Suddenly: ‘Prepare not! The living wind of Fei Lian seeks blood!’ Fei Lian exclaims. Wanda and Magneto turn to Fei Lian as Wanda thinks that there is a damage done to a child that can never been undone - anger buried so deep in the soil that it will forever grow thorny vines that entangle the soul. Wanda decides that her father’s rage, though understandable - is impossible to forgive. She and Magneto are knocked backwards by Fei Lian’s winds, and they land near the opening to the building that was created when Ahab was blasted backwards.

Magneto helps Wanda to her feet, as Wanda tells herself that the Red Skull and his S-Men have committed unspeakable atrocities - familiar to her father in ways she cannot imagine, so they must stand trial before the world - to show that justice can prevail. Wanda knows that is not how her father would solve this - he would slaughter them for their crimes. ‘Fall back! We must find help. Other X-Men within the -’ Wanda begins as she and Magneto enter the building as the S-Men walk towards them. Suddenly, they come to a stop, ‘Dear God…’ Wanda utters, wide-eyed, thinking to herself ‘And the part that terrifies me the most… is that I want to help him do it’. What the two powerful mutants see are several mutants strapped to chairs, cables connected to their brains. ‘Do you see now? See that you struggle in vain?’ This is what they do to our people, Wanda! And so long as they draw breath…there can be no unity!’ Magneto exclaims.

Back outside, the rain continues to beat down, as Ahab has returned, and harpoon in his hand he stands before Rogue, whose fists glow with ionic energy. ‘Looky there, Rogue. Got yourself some powers, huh? Whose goods are you stealing now, little succubus? What poor bastard did you drink up?’ Ahab asks. Rogue lunges forward, attempting to punch him, but he dodges her. ‘Oh - hit a nerve, did I?’ Ahab calls out, before tapping Rogue’s chin with his harpoon, and telling her ‘Future I come from - the suffering I brought upon you, love - I know you intimately’. Rogue rubs her face, as Ahab tells her that he knows how to make her scream, knows all the right buttons to push. ‘The hurt I brought on your little freak family? Deary, if you only knew. And the best part -?’ Ahab asks as he ducks when Rogue attempts to kick him in the face. ‘- Now I get to do it all over again’ Ahab exclaims as Rogue hit’s the ground, and he holds his harpoon to her body.

As Mzee, the Insect, Fei Lian, Goat-Faced Girl and Dancing Water approach the building where Wanda and Magneto are, Wanda reminds herself that for years she sought her father’s approval, his love - so desperately in need of a family, of some normalcy, she became something she wasn’t. Time and time again, she returned to that poisoned well - expecting a different outcome. ‘This kill is for Mzee’ the tortoise-like mutant declares, rubbing his fist. ‘Plenty of this monster to go around’ the Insect points out. ‘Monster?’ Magneto shouts, sending scraps of meta flying about, knocking the S-Men backwards. He and Wanda levitate into the air, ‘No. You face the devil himself’ Magneto warns the S-Men, and as Wanda hovers alongside him, she admits that his anger terrifies her. Several scraps of metal are embedded into the Goat-Faced Girl, while Mzee, Dancing Water, Fei Lian and Insect get to their feet. Magneto and Wanda drop down amongst them, and Magneto tells the S-Men that he has suffered his entire life because of their kind of unrepentant bigots. ‘Your delusions of martyrdom - indulging in your base sadism’ Magneto adds.

Wanda thinks that her father harbors a hatred that burns so brightly that it sears everything around it. She is reverted to a frightened, nervous child in its presence - desperate to calm him - to soothe the battered child within - to be the one thing in this world that he loves Fe Lian releases a burst of wind towards Wanda, but Wanda casts a simple hex sphere to counter the attack. She looks at Magneto, who raises his arms overhead, ‘You racists have overreached! I am no helpless child - no feeble old man. I AM MAGNETO!’ he roars, as more and more metal scraps start to hover in the air. ‘What are you doing?’ Wanda asks her father. ‘Erasing this horror, the only way one can -’ Magneto replies, as the shards and scraps of metal are flung towards Mzee, Dancing Water, Fei Lian and the Insect. ‘Permanently!’ Magneto declares. ‘No!’ Wanda exclaims - but as Magneto clasps his hands together, the metal all slams into the S-Men, squashing them.

‘Damn you…’ Wanda calls out to her father, who responds by trapping Wanda in some metal bands so that she cannot raise her hands. ‘I am damned. So let the stains cover me’ Magneto tells Wanda. He walks towards the Red Skull, who has started to sit up. ‘The beast will have his blood…’ the Red Skull calls out. ‘Magneto! Xavier could still be -’ Havok shouts. ‘Charles Xavier is dead’ Magneto responds, casting Havok away with a magnetic shove. ‘It is time to bury him’ Magneto announces, kicking the Red Skull in the head. The Red Skull falls backwards and looks up at Magneto, who remarks ‘I know how my filthy mutant abilities upset you, Schmidt’. ‘You can’t imagine’ the Red Skull responds. ‘Don’t worry - you’ll die pure. No magnetism. Just fists’ Magneto declares as he starts to punch the Red Skull in the face, gritting his teeth, the rain continues to beat down around them.

‘The demon takes hold’ Wanda tells herself, before calling out ‘Stop!’ as Magneto kneels over Red Skull and continues to punch him. ‘This - is for - Charles!’ Magneto shouts as his fist meets the Red Skull’s face, blow after blow. ‘He’s lost to it’ Wanda knows. She tells herself that Magneto doesn’t care enough to try to stop himself - and doesn’t love her enough to listen. ‘Enough! This is not for Charles! This is for you!’ Wanda exclaims as a burst of hex energy frees her from the restraints Magneto trapped her in. The Red Skull’s bloodied face, part of his red skull missing, looks up and asks ‘Did you think you were his friend, Magnus? I can tell you with all certainty - Charles never loved you!’

Magneto turns and walks away from the Red Skull, who calls out ‘He pitied you! A confused man who let his damage define him… incapable of rising above the dirt’. Wanda knows that Magneto tried to be better for Charles, tried for the X-Men - but never for her - and each attempt at sainthood made it all the worse. Magneto goes over to the rubble created by Ahab being flung through the building wall, and picks up several bricks. The Red Skull tells him that Xavier’s greatest fear was that he would die, leaving his X-Men to Magneto’s inept leadership. ‘NO!’ Havok shouts, as Magneto stands over the Red Skull, the bricks raised overhead. ‘He knew that they would become disjointed! Splintering into clans - warring over ideology! Constantly failing! Just like you, Magnus!’ the Red Skull declares. ‘Each glimmer of hope causing all that much more pain…when, once again…he fails me’ Wanda thinks to herself, as the Red Skull utters ‘Just like -’ but is interrupted when Magneto throws the bricks down on the Red Skull’s face - squashing it, blood splatters out from under the bricks. ‘No…’ Wanda utters as she and a solemn Havok rush over.

The Red Skull’s body lies motionless, bricks and blood getting wet and muddy as the rain continues to fall. Havok hangs his head, and Wanda brushes her hair back, before they look up as Rogue drops down - wide eyed, she turns to her ex-lover, Magneto, and frowns. ‘What have you done?’ Rogue asks, turning away and covering her mouth. ‘I did what had to be done, Anna Marie. Killed evil incarnate’ Magneto explains. He puts his hand on Rogue’s shoulder and tells her ‘By ending this now, I’ve saved countless lives -’ but Rogue interrupts, ‘You - after all your words - you’re no better than him’ she snaps, pushing Magneto’s hand away. Suddenly, a red burst of energy rises from the bricks, and a telepathic voice calls out ‘On the contrary, fraulein - he is far beneath me!’

The energy extends and knocks Wanda, Alex, Rogue and Magneto through the air. Rogue coughs as she stands up, a foggy-mist seeping through the prison. ‘Alex? Wanda?’ She calls out to her teammates, but gets no response. ‘Erik - what have you done, Erik?’ Rogue exclaims. Hugging herself, as a telepathic voice calls out ’Magneto did not kill evil incarnate…he unleashed an ONSLAUGHT of it!’ as the Red Skull, transformed into the Red Onslaught, tentacles attached to his back thrashing about, lightning crackles in the sky above, he looks down at Rogue….

Characters Involved: 

Havok, Rogue, Scarlet Witch (all Avengers Unity Squad)



Red Skull / Red Onslaught


Dancing Water, Fei Lian, Goat-Faced Girl, Insect, Mzee (all S-Men)



Story Notes: 

This is the final issue of Uncanny Avengers (1st series). This story continues in Avengers & X-Men: Axis #1-9, before the launch of Uncanny Avengers (2nd series).

Written By: