It was only a matter of time before we got a big event between the Avengers and X-Men. Crashing their latest event is the Eternals who are now targeting Krakoa after the mutant resurrection protocols were revealed to the world. The X-Men have faced a lot of powerful threats in the past but will they be ready for the full force of the Eternals and Celestials coming after them? And how will the Avengers respond to the Eternals going after the X-Men? Let’s find out with A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1.
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
While the X-Men deal with protestors outside their Treehouse headquarters calling them out for their resurrection protocols the Nightcrawler goes to Arakko to tell Magneto, Storm, and Cable about Destiny’s vision of the Eternals declaring war on mutants.
Meanwhile, the Avengers capture Sersi and take her to Avengers Mountain where Iron Man and Captain America can safely interrogate her about a possible war the Eternals are involved in. They bring up some weird energy spikes related to the Eternals in the Pacific Ocean. Sersi reminds the Avengers she is not part of the Eternals.
After getting approval from Uni-Mind to go to war with mutants Druig sets Uranos the Undying free to destroy Planet Arakko.
Afterward, at Damocles Foundation Corporate HQ, Druig meets with Moira Mactaggert, who tells Druig everything about her time on Krakoa. Druig says the Eternals are already taking action against mutants.
Over in Krakoa, launch an immediate psychic attack as soon as they begin their invasion on the nation during a Quiet Council meeting. The X-Men and X-Force quickly mobilize to take on the Eternals. During the attack, Jack of Knives is able to kill Egg. As he is about to finish off Hope Summers Wolverine steps in to save her from Jack of Knives.
At the same time, on Arakko, Uranos decimates the planet, killing all the members of the Great Ring of Arakko in the process.
Back on Krakoa, Egg, Cable, and Nightcrawler are brought back to life.
Back at Damocles Foundation Corporate HQ, Druig says this attack on mutants was just the first phase of his plan for Moira.
Druig then meets with Uranos, who mocks Druig for not failing to eliminate the mutants on Krakoa and says that must mean he should be let out again.
Druig then sends out a message to everyone on Earth apologizing for letting the mutants get as far as they have and promises to eliminate them, which humans around the world are shown cheering. Druig goes on to say that to make that he will have to unleash the Hex death machines, which could put the coast in danger but it is all for the greater good he is talking about.
At Avengers Mountain, as Captain America calls for the team to assemble Ajak and Markkari show up with Mister Sinister in handcuffs and gagged. Ajak says they can end things with the Eternals if they can build their own God, which Tony Stark is more than happy to help with. Tony says they have everything they need with Avengers Mountain being a dead Celestial. End of issue.
There is time wasted in getting A.X.E.: Judgment Day off to as big of a start as possible. Even in the middle of setting bigger things up for down the line Kieron Gillen and Valerio Schiti give us moments that you expect from a big comic book event.
But as big as the start of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1 is this opening chapter is held back by how much is behind this event. Depending on how invested you are in the Marvel Universe you could either be fully drawn in or left confused with certain character interactions. There is a feeling if you haven’t been reading the core titles for the Avengers, Eternals, and X-Men there will be things you will be missing out on.
That is definitely the feeling I had whenever Tony Stark and Sersi were interacting. All the talk about Thanos and other recent things the Eternals have been doing did absolutely nothing for the story. There is a lot of context missing that does give me the feeling that I have to spend a lot of money to feel like I can be fully invested on all sides. Having mostly read the X-Men titles it’s their side that I’m into most. And I could easily see that be the case for fans who are only familiar with the Avengers or Eternals’ recent stories.
All that said, I do have to give Gillen and Schiti credit for making the events of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1 has a massive scale with the Eternals attacking Krakoa and Arakko to build that investment. Seeing how devastating the attack was pulled me into wanting to read this entire event even if I don’t have full context with the Avengers and Eternals. It speaks to how important Gillen’s writing and Schiti’s artwork work in concert with each other to make things as impactful as possible.
The devastation Krakoa and Arakko face in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1 works even better thanks to Druig’s monologue. Gillen is very careful with the word choices that Druig makes that even as he is monologuing to Moira Mactaggert that it does not get in the way of the action Schiti and Garcia are delivering in the artwork. The writing of Druig actually enhances everything going on as everything he says being backed up by the X-Men and other mutants fighting for their lives makes everything hit harder.
Best of all is that Gillen goes all in on making Druig and Uranos the big villains of this story. There is no sympathy building for Druig, Uranos, and the Eternals that launch this attack on mutants. Everything that happens makes you want to see Druig and their Eternals be taken down even more. Which is what you want as the antagonists for A.X.E.: Judgment Day are characters you come to love to hate.
Making everything that happens in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1 hit harder is how we see the humans on Earth cheering when Druig announces his intentions to take out the mutants. This builds on the immediate reaction to the Immortal X-Men story in the Daily Bugle and Hellfire Gala event. Having a villain acting like he is a God himself without humans noticing helps build up Druig as a big event antagonist without him actually getting physically involved.
It makes his reveal that the Hex he is planning to use against mutants even more effective. Druig does not hide the fact these Eternal death machines also are a danger to Earth itself but it doesn’t matter as long as mutants are taken out. This all further drives home why mutants created their own nation in Krakoa, to begin with as humans still can’t get over their unnecessary hatred for mutants that they’ll be blinded to a person with a God-complex like Druig world-destroying actions.
This is where interest turns around when it comes to what is going on with the Avengers and heroic Eternals in Ajax, Makkari, and Sersi around. Given everything that Druig’s Eternals did we know that it’s going to take more than the Avengers and X-Men to protect everyone. Hearing that Tony Stark, Ajax, Makkari, and Sersi are planning to build their own God with the dead Celestial that has been used for Avengers Mountain. That certainly is an ending that does put into question where these characters will end up standing as A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1 moves forward.
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A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1 isn’t a perfect start. Unless you have been reading the core Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals titles going into this event there will be things you’ll feel you are missing out on. That said, Kieron Gillen and Valerio Schiti deliver on the big moments you expect from big Marvel comic book events. By the end of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1 there is enough accomplished to be invested in finding out what happens next with the Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals.
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10