Uncanny Avengers #14: Murder Most Foul


Rick Remender is no stranger to character deaths in his Marvel stories. In Uncanny X-Force, he killed Apocalypse as a child, he killed Warren Worthington, and he killed Daken. In Captain America, he killed off Sharon Carter. So it should probably come as no surprise that in Uncanny Avengers, where he’s already killed the Grim Reaper, he’s now seen fit to kill both Rogue and the Scarlet Witch.

Wait, what? Yes.

Now before everyone gets supremely worked up about this, keep in mind that Remender also brought back Apocalypse as a teenage boy named Evan who is now going to the Jean Grey School, he brought Warren Worthington back as a young blank slate free of the Apocalypse taint, and he’s brought Daken and Grim Reaper back in the pages of Uncanny Avengers as the Horsemen of Death, so he obviously doesn’t kill people without long-term plans for them – even if those plans are twisted. Let’s face it – Remender is kind of bent, as you can see in this week’s Black Science #1 as well.

Also, it bears noting that there are some serious timestream shenanigans afoot right now, and not just the general Marvel malarkey post-Age of Ultron. Uncanny Avengers #14 opens with Kang The Conqueror gathering together a weird amalgamation of temporal and interdimensional collaborators, including Stryfe, May Parker/Venom from Earth X, Arno Stark of Iron Man 2020, Doom 2099 (!!!), a Deathlok Abomination from 2055, a Magistrate Braddock from 2043, and the Red Skull’s current henchman Ahab. He’s saving them all from some kind of crazy timestorm that’s destroying futures. Given the fact that the Apocalypse Twins – who Kang raised – are currently messing about with the present-day Earth, there’s a really solid chance that Rogue and Scarlet WItch are not gone for good, and may actually return sooner than we think.

That all said, he killed them both dead in this issue. Dead as Dillinger.

Remender has been pitting Rogue and Wanda against each other throughout the entire run, exemplifying the discord between the Avengers and X-Men worlds that this team was created to heal. Wanda’s been on a quest for redemption since her “No More Mutants” business, but Rogue refuses to forgive her, especially in the wake of Charles Xavier’s death, so that strife has kept forcing the team towards picking sides. To be honest, it has always felt like Remender was pounding the square Rogue peg into a round plot hole, as she’s seemed to be somewhat out of character for most of the run with her extreme level of unreasonableness. The general motivations for X-anger at Wanda make sense, but it never quite felt right for Rogue to personify it while being this righteously, blindly indignant, given her own checkered past. Then again, Remender’s Wanda has been kind of mouthy and dismissive as well, as a mouthpiece for Remender’s notions of how race relations should be between mutants and humans, and that’s made obvious by Rogue’s counter-arguments being extremely weak. Remender has taken some flak for how he’s handled the general metaphor for racism and prejudice that mutants were meant to be, but readers may interpret such things in many, varying ways, and their reactions will be just as wide-ranging.

Anyway, UA #14 has the Apocalypse Twins forcing Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man to cast a big spell to rapture all the mutants away from Earth and onto a new homeworld free of such prejudices, but Wanda is secretly planning to summon a mutant army to stop the Twins. However, Rogue believes Wanda is doing the Twins’ bidding, so she’s got it in her head that the only way to end the threat of the Witch is to kill her, believing Wolverine would want it that way, even though he specifically told her not to kill anybody due to how messed up his own recent murder history has been – what with drowning his own son in a puddle and all. So Rogue pops Wolverine’s claws and murders the Scarlet Witch in cold blood. Then, of course, she immediately has to talk herself through second-guessing herself, and that’s when Grim Reaper, the guy she accidentally killed a few issues back, decides turnabout is fair play and runs her through with his scythe, and then fries her down to her bones. But Wanda’s got enough life left in her to finish the spell, and she dies just after completing it – or seems to, since it also looks like Wonder Man may have merged with her somehow, to perhaps return the favor for when Wanda brought Simon back from the dead way back in Kurt Busiek’s Avengers run.

It’s all very dramatic – Grim Reaper’s words to Rogue right before killing her are an incisive indictment of lethal force – and Steve McNiven’s artwork is amazing, but like I said, the writing of Rogue just feels wrong, and this is the culmination of that wrongness. It’s possible I haven’t been keeping close enough tabs on her history before Avengers vs. X-Men which would shed light on why she’s doing all this, but considering that she spent a lot of time recently banging Magneto, premeditated murder of his daughter mostly out of spite doesn’t really seem like her style. So why her? The answer to that seems to be that Remender is less concerned about Rogue’s character than he is about finding new ways to torture Wolverine, who is forced to watch as his former protégé murders her teammate with claws borrowed from him, while Daken taunts him by essentially saying “you, all right! She learned it by watching you!”

I’ve enjoyed a lot of the intricate plotting of Uncanny Avengers, and I’m really excited to see Doom 2099 getting involved somehow (even if it’s the blue-cloaked version and not the red-cloaked President of America Doom), but this should have been a supremely affecting issue, given the events unfolding that have been built towards since the get-go. Unfortunately, if we don’t believe in the motivations of the characters, if their actions don’t quite make sense, all you come away from the book feeling is a general sense of head-shaking dismissal.