Our remaining Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals venture inward —literally and figuratively— in A.X.E.: Judgment Day — Week Ten.
This week we’ve got A.X.E.: Avengers #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #10.
Before Progenitor’s final judgment (as seen in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4), Peter Parker faces his personal reckoning in the form of Gwen Stacy. Despite the impending apocalypse, everyone around him goes on with their day more or less unfazed, with “Gwen” eerily watching his every move but saying nothing. Randy Robertson gets fitted for his wedding tux; Aunt May solemnly accepts her potential fate; J. Jonah Jameson frantically apologizes for his years of slandering Spider-Man in the press; Miles Morales continues Spider-Manning; Oscorp intern Kamala Khan resumes working on an important project; Norman Osborn shows no remorse for having his employees come into work under such stressful circumstances.
When “Gwen” starts to flee, Peter confronts her and admits everything he’s done since her death was to atone for it; this includes his recent efforts to help Norman be a better person and keep him from re-becoming the man who killed her. Progenitor then reveals to Peter that he has passed judgment, but that’s not all — it briefly allows him and the real Gwen to share a fleeting moment together before she once again departs. Unbeknownst to Peter, however, Norman watches them together, briefly convinced he really saw her before deciding it was all in his head while Progenitor —back in the guise of “Gwen”— begins to stalk him.
Back in the present, Iron Man infiltrates Progenitor’s body with Jean Grey, Wolverine, Mr. Sinister, Sersi, Makkari, and Ajak in their last ditch effort to sabotage the Celestial from within (as seen in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #5). When their attempt at stealth blows up on them, Progenitor’s internal defenses retaliate, and Iron Man is forced to relive his various (and plentiful) traumas throughout time. Already feeling responsible for the apparent deaths of most of his allies, he manages to talk himself out of succumbing to his guilt, and Progenitor gifts him with a brief moment between himself and his late father. With his confidence restored, he warns the others that they’re just as susceptible to Progenitor’s test as he was, but that he’s sure they will save everyone regardless.
In a surprising, but probably necessary, change of pace from the past few weeks, these issues of Judgment Day go in a more internal direction —figuratively and literally. Each installment puts a break on the plot to reflect on the complex psyches of Peter Parker and Iron Man, who both possess more than enough regret in their lives for the rest of the characters present. For Peter, he’s driven by his past mistakes to help someone else (Norman) prevent making more of their own, while Tony is raring to —wait for it– avenge his fallen friends despite indirectly being responsible for a lot of their downfalls in the past. It could be a coincidence that both of these issues came out in the same week, with release schedules constantly being upheaved due to various circumstances, but it’s rather fortuitous that they’re presented as foils to one another in this way. I will say I don’t know how “story-critical” (solicitation words, not mine) A.X.E.: Avengers #1 actually is in regards to the overarching plot, nor Amazing Spider-Man #10 for that matter, but they both do a pretty commendable job of reminding the reader that we need to care about the characters in a story for us to care about the story itself.
Next week we’ve got a heavy mutant presence with just a dash of Eros in X-Men Red #7, A.X.E.: X-Men #1, and A.X.E.: Starfox #1.
A.X.E.: Judgment Day — Week Ten
- Writers: Zeb Wells (Amazing Spider-Man #10), Kieron Gillen (A.X.E.: Avengers #1)
- Artists: Nick Dragotta (ASM), Federico Vincentini (AXE)
- Color Artists: Marcio Menyz (ASM), Dean White (AXE)
- Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga (ASM), VC’s Cory Petit (AXE)
- Cover Artists: John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna, Marcio Menyz (ASM), Nic Klein (AXE)
- Editors: Nick Lowe (ASM), Tom Brevoort (AXE)
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment