This week in A.X.E.: Judgment Day, tensions flare within X-Force while the power of Iceman’s sexuality literally produces a rainbow. Comics!
A pair of tie-ins this week: X-Force #31 and X-Men #14.
In Arctic Russia, Kraven the Hunter makes his presence known to the Celestial called Progenitor, demanding its acknowledgment after emerging to judge the world. (As seen in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #2.) When Progenitor fails to do so, Kraven rejects its dominion over him and makes a blood oath to hunt the mutants who “play god” alongside it.
Back on Krakoa, Omega Red returns with the mutant refugees from Russia. Beast is annoyed with him for actually doing a heroic act and not fulfilling the mission as planned, which would have given them good publicity as a distraction for rising anti-mutant sentiment in the world. Sage, on the other hand, is pleased with Omega Red’s rehabilitation and rewards him with access to the Shadow Room, allowing him to play out his sadistic whims with no collateral damage.
Kraven retires to his hunting lodge to study Krakoa ahead of his invasion of the island, but is interrupted by Deadpool’s severed body parts as they attempt to recombine with one another. Kraven takes the opportunity to ask Deadpool about Krakoa, not knowing that he has —begrudgingly to them— been accepted as an honorary mutant, which means he also possesses a Krakoa flower that allows him entry there from anywhere in the world. With Deadpool’s head on his back, they approach an open gate to Krakoa.
Meanwhile, Beast has a talk with Sage about the Russia mission. He’s still perturbed about the result, and airs some xenophobic grievances about the mutant refugees causing a ruckus on the island. Sage rebukes his claims and decides that maybe they’ve both changed quite a bit since working together in X-Force. On an info page, Colossus is quoted as having warned Beast to leave the Russian refugees alone, or he will retaliate in kind.
Elsewhere, a reporter is chastised by her boss for editorializing a news story about the X-Men to make note of Iceman’s sexuality. While this happens, the X-Men intercept a rogue spacecraft attempting to blow up the sun before Judgment Day is over, arriving in enough time to realize that the plot is already in motion. Iceman is called upon to help minimize the damage by producing an ice shield above Earth. Their plan works, but the solar flare causes the ice to shatter into dangerous amounts of debris, requiring Firestar to melt all of it before reaching Earth. Their combined power produces a rainbow in the sky, and Iceman is greeted by the reporter upon returning from the atmosphere. He provides her a quick soundbite, saying he doesn’t expect praise for regularly helping save the world, but that he does want to be a symbol for mutants who can’t pass as “human” by wearing his ice out in public more often.
The reporter returns to her boss and demands that her piece remain untouched when it gets sent to print; he derisively relents, lamenting about how everybody is so “judgmental” these days. As this happens, Cyclops confronts Progenitor to be judged, but he informs the Celestial that he only accepts the judgment of his wife and their mutant allies above all else. Because of this, Cyclops passes Progenitor’s judgment, and he walks away satisfied.
Both tie-ins this week do a pretty decent job of reflecting on the theme of “judgment” and prejudice, albeit in very different ways.
While Kraven is obviously the one driving the plot of this current arc, I’m much more interested in what’s happening on the fringes with Sage and Beast, and how their diverging paths weave into Judgment Day on a micro level. Whereas Sage is glad to see Omega Red turning a new leaf —as much as he can, anyway— and ready to welcome him to the team more permanently, Beast is dismayed by the act of altruism because it didn’t serve his own selfish agenda or confirm his biases against their former adversary, which then results in him getting all MAGA (MKGA?) about the influx of mutant refugees on the island. Beast gradually transforming into a Jordan Peterson-type is such an interesting —and frankly unsurprising— development over the past several years, and I wonder when it’ll finally hit a fever pitch in the world.
The X-Men story, on the other hand, focuses on a classic mutant metaphor angle by showing the casual homophobia Iceman faces as a twofer minority. The actual meat of the issue is mostly just one extended action set-piece with Bobby at the center, but it’s the framing device around it that also feeds into the overarching theme of “judgment” as a tie-in to this event. The editor of the paper isn’t a mustache-twirling villain who demonizes Bobby for being gay; he’s just a sucky dude who thinks that his sexuality is boring and means nothing to anybody because it means nothing to him personally. Or at least, that’s what he claims. This is all happening on literal Judgment Day, of course, which is likely what prompts the reporter to push back against the prejudice of her boss and advocate for Bobby as an unbiased, unaffiliated ally. If he isn’t going to justify his existence to Progenitor, then she’s the one willing to pick up the slack and do it for them. (There’s a COVID allegory there somewhere…) And as mentioned, the issue ends with Cyclops earning Progenitor’s approval, which will likely make the tens of his very intense stans very happy this week.
Next week is our chonkiest round of Judgment Day yet, with four(!) tie-ins: Wolverine #24, Immortal X-Men #6, Marauders #6, and A.X.E.: Death to the Mutants #2.
A.X.E.: Judgment Day — Week Six
- Writers: Benjamin Percy (X-Force) & Gerry Duggan (X-Men)
- Artists: Robert Gill (XF) & C.F. Villa (XM)
- Color Artists: Guru-eFX (XF) & Matt Milla (XM)
- Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga (XF) & VC’s Clayton Cowles (XM)
- Cover Artists: Joshua Cassara & Dean White (XF), Martin Coccolo & Jesus Aburtov (XM)
- Editors: Mark Basso (XF) & Jordan D. White (XM)
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment