[Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Uncanny Avengers #19.]

Uncanny Avengers truly lives up to its name. Since the third volume of the Unity Squad’s adventures began, this hodgepodge of humans, super-humans, magic users, mutants, Inhumans, and Deadpool have encountered some crazy stuff. Dealing with everything from the S.H.I.E.L.D. reform center madness of Pleasant Hill to a cranky Steve Rogers to a zombified  Incredible Hulk is no easy task. Through thick and thin, however, despite being disbanded by Captain America himself, the team has retained one major goal: rip Charles Xavier’s brain the heck out of Red Skull’s head (a mission with a somewhat dubious nature in light of Cap’s true allegiance).

Enjoying his newfound incredible psychic abilities, a control freak like Herr Skull isn’t exactly keen on the idea of losing them or being separated from his ruby pate. He also has some disturbing designs for his own telepathic skills in Uncanny Avengers #19, which could turn the world against the Avengers and gain Hydra a foothold in the good old U.S. of A.

Red Skull Takes Control

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In the previous issue, Red Skull exploited his new psychic makeover to capture the bulk of the disbanded yet surprisingly well-adhered Unity Squad. His stolen brain bits allowed him to convince Rogue that Professor X had returned. He also was able to delve into the emotional hangups of Synapse following her Terrigen conversion, the Wasp and her rocky relationship with Hank Pym (and android issues), Doctor Voodoo’s strained connection to his brother Daniel, and Johnny Storm’s desire to reunite with his family. Suffice to say, Herr Skull has the Unity Squad bamboozled at the moment.

While he sends Quicksilver to hunt down Deadpool, Herr Schmidt goes to work on the last holdouts to his brutal mind games, Cable. Although Rogue’s own psychic defenses were considerable, Cable’s powerful telepathic abilities coupled with his intense mental training allow him to mount a heavy resistance. Surprised by the fighting spirit of the time-displaced mutant, Red Skull redoubles his efforts. However, before he can find a crack in Cable’s mental armor and exploit it, the powerful mutant initiates an extreme protocol, “Project Lifeboat,” wiping out his personal computer Belle and his own mental faculties.

With Nate Grey’s mind gone blank, it seems as though all hope is lost for the Avengers. Fortunately, there is a flashlight flickering at the end of the sewer tunnel, and it belongs to Deadpool.

Deadpool Goes to Voicemail

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Before Rogue was captured, she asked Deadpool to take on a special mission. Rather than charging off with her to confront Herr Schmidt at the former Avengers Mansion (now dubbed “Schmidt Mansion”), she asks Wade to hunt down a few friendly faces who might aid their cause. However, it seems like his phone calls to superhero compatriots shoot straight to voicemail. If being ignored isn’t intolerable enough, Wade also has to contend with the lightning-fast, Red Skull-controlled fury of Quicksilver. Barely managing to escape the mauve speedster, he drops by a familiar address in the hopes to find an answer to the Unity Squad’s conundrum.

Heading to 177A Bleeker Street, the Sanctum Sanctorum of Doctor Strange, the Merc with a Mouth busts into the mystical brownstone, bumping into Wong along the way, who informs him the doctor is out. Frustrated, Deadpool mopes out the door to meet his lonesome destiny, but at the last minute, Strange’s mystical housemate decides to accompany him on his journey. Now two, the team receives an added power-up when, with a thwip and a quip, Spider-Man arrives at the front door (upside down, no less).

Avengers Anti-Unity Squad?

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The showdown is now set. The Red Skull is about to rain terror down upon the unsuspecting world thanks to his heroic avatars, the Avengers Unity Squad. All that stands against the psychic wall of an ageless Hydra madman is a ragtag bunch comprised of a mouthy merc, an irradiated spider-bite victim, a magically-inclined martial artist, and a mindless, time-traveling mutant. To be honest, this has all the trappings of a really great underdog story.

It does appear that Rogue made the right choice by sending Deadpool in search of help (call-screening or otherwise). Not only is he resilient, but he’s one of the few team members whose chaotic, MPD-laced mind might actually put Herr Skull in the loony bin. Wade and company might also get a bit of unexpected aid, as the mental flush Cable kicked off was called “Operation Lifeboat.” His consciousness may have left his body, but it probably isn’t gone for good.

Of course, if the teaser for Uncanny Avenger #20 is any indication, things are looking pretty grim. It consists of a graveyard full of tombstones, each one marking the final destination of a member of the Unity Squad not suggestive of a positive outcome. Longtime readers know how much Gerry Duggan (and Marvel) love their twists and turns, though, so Captain America’s disbanded little band may have a few tricks up their sleeve yet.

Next: Marvel’s New Falcon Battles… Political Correctness?

Uncanny Avengers #19 is currently available online and in print.