In this week’s climactic installment of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #6, our heroes race against the clock to save the day… will they succeed?
The main story of our crossover event comes to a close with the final issue of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #6.
As the end of Judgment Day looms nearer, the resurrected Captain America returns to New York through one of the many opened Eternal portals worldwide, offering any remaining survivors refuge. We catch up with the six civilians in what may be their final moments: Tom in the UK refuses to pass through a portal to stay in his home and regrets it instantly; Katrina in Vancouver chooses to save someone over passing through a portal even if it dooms her life; Komali in India takes solace in the apocalypse; Daniela in Brazil escorts her mother through a portal while worrying about her bike; Jada in New York passes through a portal and finds an (unknowingly) orphaned Kenta from Japan.
Eros rallies his new refugees while Captain America and Nightcrawler formulate a plan to buy themselves more time. Progenitor muses that, although simply exploding the planet would be more efficient, it wants to personally destroy the Reality Loom (the “self-destruct button” of Earth) itself. When Jean Grey tries to destroy Progenitor with a psychic blast from within, Ajak —back to full autonomy now— stops her, reminding them that death is cheap to mutantkind and murdering a Celestial won’t bring all of the lost lives back. Their solution is to try to convince Progenitor that its reasoning is flawed. (“This is still a test.”) Meanwhile on the outside, Progenitor is greeted at Olympia by a half-resurrected Syne, armed civilians, and Orchis reinforcements to slow it down.
The Celestial muses that Orchis, who helped Eternals launch their war in the first place, were conveniently quick to “step into the gap” left by the mutants when they fell. Outraged by Orchis leading the charge, Jean once again prepares to make a rash decision when Progenitor stops her and doubles down on its final decision, calling out her hypocrisy. (“Those who hate you stand with you only because there is no other choice. If there was, they would take it… and the Eternals, even when free, prove they cannot change.”) Sersi makes a swift retaliation to that statement by revealing the true nature of Eternals to the world — that their lives are extended by regular human sacrifice. When the world collectively decides Sersi should die for telling the truth, Progenitor grants them their wish, reducing her to ash as the first Eternal to die permanently. Tony argues that Sersi’s willingness to doom herself for the lives of humanity proves Progenitor was wrong after all, but it disagrees. Ajak backs him up, debating that Progenitor itself was created to be a better god than the ones previous and failed at it. Jean and Tony continue to extrapolate this idea by offering mercy and understanding to Progenitor, saying it still has an opportunity to make amends for its failings.
In an unexpected moment of self-reflection, Progenitor finally comes to the realization that it’s no God after all, and receives a failing judgment from its maker, Ajak. As it fades away into nothing, it pledges to restore things as they were before judgment and urges the heroes to “be better” in its absence. As people around the world are recovered —including all of the six featured civilians— and destruction is undone, it’s revealed that Progenitor has merged with Ajak as the Eternals’ new god of judgment. The Eternals and Krakoa reach an official diplomatic alliance, with Zuras declaring mutants are not substantial “excess deviation” and offering the latter their greatest weapon: Uranos, who now shares a lifelong jail cell with the deposed Druig. While Eternals now face the same scorn and ire of humanity as mutants, Jean announces that she will be offering its resurrection protocols with the world on a case-by-case basis as the “Phoenix Foundation,” prioritizing those who need it most. Although this is regarded as a win for Krakoa, Cyclops laments that Orchis will come out of Judgment Day with just as much good press for their efforts against Progenitor.
Back on Olympia, the deified Ajak keeps watch on the world, warning that humanity should remain on their best behavior at all times, because “every day is Judgment Day.”
Perhaps keeping with its established character throughout the series, Judgment Day is a rare crossover event that truly sticks the landing, offering real emotional catharsis when the heroes finally emerge victorious. While the climax does feature the usual butt-kicking factor, Progenitor is not undone through physical violence, but reasoning and logic. They hoist the Celestial by its own petard, making it realize that even itself isn’t above judgment and that its actions have made it fail its intended purpose. Having Jean and Tony, two characters defined by regret and blood on their hands, be the ones to offer Progenitor mercy when it arguably doesn’t deserve it is a canny move from writer Kieron Gillen, using their history for the betterment of a new story. (This is the benefit of long-term shared universes, people!) Even as the event closes on a potential sequel hook with the godly Ajak keeping watch on humanity, it feels done now*, allowing the characters to move on hopefully with a new perspective.
(*It’s obviously not done done yet, but the main story has indeed reached its conclusion.)
As with any event, this one also closes with some intriguing teases and setup for the future. Are Eternals really the new mutants? Will the Phoenix Foundation be a success? How far have Orchis advanced their anti-mutant agenda with the public now fully on their side? Will anybody really try to change for the better? Is the martyr Sersi actually not only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead? Will Ajak be able to handle her new role? When —and why— will Krakoa call upon the services of Uranos? TBD on of these/
You didn’t think Judgment Day was really over, did you? In two weeks we’ll get the epilogue, A.X.E. Judgment Day Omega #1, while forthcoming issues of Avengers Assemble Alpha #1, X-Men Red #9, and Immortal X-Men #9 will apparently address the immediate fallout of the event.