It’s week four of A.X.E.: Judgment Day, but before we can move forward in the story, we’ve got to retrace our steps just a bit.
This week we’ve got a trio of titles that (mostly) return to the events of last week from altering perspectives: A.X.E.: Death to the Mutants #1, X-Force #30, and X-Men #13.
Earlier in Lemuria, the separatist Eternals convene about Druig’s war on the mutants. Phastos is furious that Ajak, Makkari, and Sersi have all made tentative counterattack measures without him, but ultimately acquiesce and agrees to help them build a new Celestial. Before the rest of them go off to battle, they need to perform a seance at the bottom of Lemuria — specifically the site where Deviants attacked deviants like Kro during the Second host, turning them away from their gods. A fight breaks out between the Eternals and the deviants, but Sersi emphatically puts an end to the conflict, knowing they shouldn’t act as cruelly to them as the Celestials once did. With that out of the way, Ikaris formulates a plan to infiltrate Olympia.
Back in the Olympia war room, Druig taunts Zuras as he telepathically fights off Xavier, knowing the former’s stamina is an even match for the latter’s strength. Druig feels secure knowing that it’s nearly impossible for outsiders to enter an Eternal city, but unbeknownst to him, Ikaris and his team have already successfully cleared a path for the mutants to enter. Ikaris uses the disturbance to incapacitate Zuras, giving the mutants an opportunity to fight back against the Hex. Elsewhere, Phastos puts the finishing touches on the new Celestial, warning the people of Earth that they have twenty-four hours to justify themselves or they will be obliterated. (Seen previously in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #2.) Before they leave Olympia, Ikaris leaves a warning for Druig: DEATH TO THE ETERNALS.
Simultaneously to the above events, the X-Men fight off the Hex as they repeatedly approach Krakoa. Ikaris informs Jean that they can only be defeated if their power source beneath the Earth’s crust is destroyed. He tells her his team will help the X-Men, but warns her not to kill any Eternals or they will rescind their aid. While Jean and Cyclops fight off the Hex, the rest of the X-Men —Iceman, Forge, Magik, Firestar, Sync— will venture to the power source for the mission. With the path cleared for them by Ikaris, they manage to fight off heavy resistance from Eternal security and succeed in destroying the power source. The X-Men return to Krakoa thinking their job is done, but then the new Celestial presents itself to them, warning that their adjudication has come.
At some point prior to Druig’s assault on Krakoa, X-Force is left vulnerable from the mysterious death of Kid Omega and Wolverine’s subsequent departure from the team. They draft Deadpool and Omega Red to their ranks for a preliminary mission: rescue a ship of mutants being trafficked in arctic Russia while Domino and Black Tom disrupt mutant protests at various Krakoan gates around the world. After Deadpool is left for dead by Omega Red and eaten by a bear, his (living) remains are discovered by Kraven the Hunter. After overhearing a conversation about them being the new apex predators of the galaxy at an inn, Kraven decides what his next big hunt should be: mutants.
This week of Judgment Day doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know after last week’s momentous chapter, but it does fill in some gaps and expand on events we’ve already seen from a different perspective, mainly with Death to the Mutants #1 and X-Men #13. (not so much with X-Force #40; more on the latter in a moment.) Whereas Judgment Day #2 provided a bigger picture version of events, the former two issues show us those same happenings from the eyes of the (separatist) Eternals as well as the mutants. This approach is an ideal one for these sweeping event storylines, and I think it says a lot about Kieron Gillen’s plotting that —for the moment, at least — it all feels tight and intimate despite this one’s grand scale. That’ll almost certainly change sooner than later, with some upcoming weeks having as many as five tie-ins, but keeping the focus on the Eternals and the X-Men for now helps the reader keep track of everything happening.
Perhaps because of this, the Avengers haven’t had nearly as much of a presence in the overall story as the others; I wonder if that’ll change much at all moving forward. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Avengers were mandated to be included in this event because of worries that the Eternals wouldn’t be enough of a draw unto themselves after the middling performance of their 2021 cinematic debut. We’ll see!
As mentioned, X-Force #40 barely has anything to do with the current timeline of events, taking place at some point before Druig launched his attack but after Krakoa’s resurrection protocols were revealed to the world. It’s not entirely irrelevant, with the mutant protesting subplot of the main series being reflected here, but it does seem as though they slapped the Judgment Day logo on the cover to boost sales for what is otherwise a tangential non-sequitur. That’s not to say it isn’t worth reading, and the Kraven plot is very intriguing. But if you’re looking to follow this event to make sense of everything, this is probably the most inessential tie-in chapter yet.
Next week we’re back to just one issue, but one that’ll surely be major based on previous patterns: A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3.
A.X.E.: Judgment Day — Week Four
- Writers: Kieron Gillen (Death to the Mutants), Gerry Duggan (X-Men), Benjamin Percy (X-Force)
- Artists: Guiu Villanova (Death to the Mutants) , C.F. Villa (X-Men), Robert Gill (X-Force)
- Color Artists: Dijio Lima (Death to the Mutants) , Matt Milla (X-Men), Guru-eFX (X-Force)
- Letterers: VC’s Travis Lanham (Death to the Mutants) , VC’s Clayton Cowles (X-Men), VC’s Joe Caramanga (X-Force)
- Cover Artists: Esad Ribić (Death to the Mutants) , Martin Coccolo & Jesus Aburtov (X-Men), Joshua Cassara & Dean White (X-Force)
- Editor: Tom Brevoort (Death to the Mutants) & Jordan D. White (X-Men, X-Force)
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment