Our journey into introspection continues in A.X.E. Judgment Day — Week Eleven, and some of our heroes won’t survive the experience.
On tap this week, we’ve got A.X.E.: Starfox #1, A.X.E.: X-Men #1, and X-Men Red #7.
After failing to convince Progenitor that Earth deserves to exist, Eros scrambles to save people from harm with the help of the Machine, trying to give them hope in the face of apocalypse. The Machine outlines how he and his brother Thanos both exemplify the failures of their father’s experiment to birth Eternals by natural means; Thanos by being unambiguously evil, Eros by not being good enough to justify the effort. Eros feels guilty about not striving towards his maximum potential as a force for good sooner but knows he must make up for it in the present before it’s too late. Knowing he can only save the world not as a superhero but as the Prime Eternal, he returns to Olympia for a last-ditch effort —open all of the Eternal portals and remove their access restrictions— when he’s met by his uncle Zuras. The former Prime Eternal before Thanos and Druig stole that title from him, he opposes the plan as it goes against their tradition. They fight about the idea, but ultimately come to an agreement that if Eros’s plan works, he will abdicate the throne back to Zuras and allow him take credit for saving the universe. With that, he returns to playing the role of superhero, knowing that he needs to believe in the power of love if he wants anyone else to.
Back at the North Pole, the field team continues their journey inside Progenitor, eventually making it to what they assume to be the Celestial’s heart blocking their path forward. Jean telepathically parts the heart for the group to pass through, but gets trapped in Progenitor’s next judgment test much like Iron Man’s before her. She rejects its montage of traumatic flashbacks and demands to speak to it directly while the others watch and vouch for her character, but ultimately it decides that she fails judgment because she once destroyed a planet as the Phoenix. She doubles down on her frustration by vowing revenge, which Progenitor then uses as justification for its decision, and dismissing her any chance of redemption. Instead of letting it defeat her, however, she uses Progenitor’s hypocrisy as motivation to ruin it. As Wolverine muses, Xavier’s “star pupil … isn’t used to failing tests.”
After helping defeat Uranos on Arakko, Magneto lays dying in Storm’s arms, stating his desire to not be resurrected on Krakoa. Magneto warns her that Xavier will eventually sell out the entire mutant race for self-preservation and to promise that she will monitor him closely; he dies soon thereafter. Lodus Logos notes that three seats on the Great Ring are now vacant — two from the deaths of Idyll and Magneto, one from the betrayal of Isca the Unbeaten. The Brotherhood takes Isca to task over her dogmatic pursuit of victory; she defends herself by reminding them she has already beaten most of them without issue. The Fisher King then challenges Isca to an unprecedented duel: being the one who truly understands the meaning of loss. Shocked to realize she’s finally lost a fight for the first time in her life, Isca exiles herself from Arakko. Storm, pondering her fitness to rule a planet as the child of one and the mother of another, takes one of the vacant seats for herself and names Lodus as her successor to lead the Great Ring. Meanwhile on S.W.O.R.D. Station Two, Cable and Wiz-Kid hack into Abigail Brand’s files, and are appalled by what they find there.
Another largely introspective week of A.X.E.: Judgment Day without much plot progression, but just like the event on the whole has already done exceptionally well, I think it’s all justified and well worth having. Kieron Gillen’s thoughtful approach to this storyline has really led all parties involved to great creative success in a way these events usually don’t, and that can be seen in each issue.
With Starfox, we’re shown a new side of the character that’s rarely ever seen, if it ever has been seen before. This is probably by necessity, as the character is mostly known in contemporary discussion as the Marvel Universe’s preeminent sex pest and —most recently— the newest action figure Kevin Feige is betting big on, with nascent movie star Harry Styles in the role. (TBD on whether or not he can deliver the goods there.) But that’s not a complaint or critique; reinvention is necessary for characters in these universes to thrive, and Eros desperately needed one. By showing his remorse for not being “good” sooner, his newfound dedication for superheroism offers an intriguing hook for him moving forward.
X-Men shifts the spotlight on Jean and her subsequent judgment, which she ultimately fails and does not take well. The worst part is that you can’t really fault Progenitor for making the decision it does, since she did kinda genocide a planet for no reason that one time. But most importantly, everyone around her still vouches for her character, and isn’t that what really matters? Elsewhere on Arakko, Magneto kicks the bucket for good (or at least, until the plot requires him to come back; don’t be naive) and it does make for a genuinely touching moment between him and Storm. But most of all what I enjoyed in this issue of X-Men Red was the Fisher King taunting Isca with an unwinnable (for her) battle of wits. Isca the Unbeaten, finally beaten because she’s never been beaten? They got her, gals!
Next week is going to be our busiest one yet, with new installments in —deep breath— Wolverine #25, X-Force #32, Immortal X-Men #7, Captain Marvel #42, A.X.E.: Death to the Mutants #3, Legion of X #6, A.X.E.: Eternals #1, and A.X.E.: Iron Fist #1. Because Marvel has decided to taunt me with a bevy of tie-ins the same week I’m going to be on a family vacation, I may have to cull my coverage down to the most essential parts for the sake of expediency, but… we’ll see!
A.X.E.: Judgment Day — Week Eleven
- Writers: Kieron Gillen (Starfox, A.X.E.: X-Men), Al Ewing (X-Men Red)
- Artists: Danele Di Nicuolo (Starfox), Francesco Mobili (A.X.E.), Stefano Caselli (Red)
- Color Artists: Frank William (Starfox), Frank Martin (A.X.E.), Federico Blue & Protobunker’s Fer Sifuentes-Sujo (Red)
- Letterers: VC’s Joe Sabino, VC’s Clayton Cowles (A.X.E.), VC’s Ariana Maher (Red)
- Cover Artists: Daniele Di Nicuolo & Frank William (Starfox), Nic Klein (A.X.E.), Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson (Red)
- Editors: Tom Brevoort (Starfox, A.X.E.), Jordan D. White (Red)
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment