A.X.E.: Judgement Day had a very good start with Kieron Gillen and Valerio Schiti establishing the massive scale of Marvel’s latest big event. We immediately got into Druig and his Eternals being established as the antagonist of the stories with their goal being the extermination of the mutants after their way of cheating death was revealed to the world. Krakoa and Arakko felt what it means to have the Eternals as the enemies as both mutant havens were hit by severe attacks that almost obliterated both locations. Now with their backs against the wall will the X-Men continue to fight for the survival of the mutant race alone or will the Avengers finally step up to help? Let’s find out with A.X.E.: Judgement Day #2.
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
The X-Men fight for their life as Eternals’ The Hex (Phebe Reginax, Rheaka Centaurus, Syne The Memotaur, Thieaka The Harpsicus, Tetytrona, and Themex) launch a full assault on Krakoa. The Avengers show up to provide the X-Men with some help.
During the fighting Captain America confronts Cyclops about keeping the resurrection protocols a secret from them. Cyclops reminds Captain America that not everything between them has been great.
As the fighting against The Hex intensifies Exodus finds an opening to penetrate Syne The Memotaur’s armor and enters the giant Eternal. Exodus then unleashes the full extent of his telekinetic power within Syne and destroys the giant Eternal.
Meanwhile, as Sersi gathers the Eternals that oppose Druig, Mister Sinister works with Iron Man and Phastos to reanimate Progenitor, the dead Celestial that is currently being used as Avengers Mountain.
While the fighting against The Hex continues The Five are able to bring back Exodus, Wolverine (Logan), and Psylocke to life.
Back at Avengers Mountain, after arguing with Mister Sinister Ajax puts the finishing touches on reviving Progenitor. As soon as it returns to life Progenitor forces The Hex to return to where they were originally from.
Before the Avengers, X-Men, or Eternals can catch their breath Progenitor announces that Earth as a planet is ruined and they have 24 hours to justify their actions. Progenitor goes on to say that if they judge that if the wicked outweigh everything else there will be no tomorrow for anyone. End of issue.
Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti, and Marte Gracia know exactly what kind of story they are creating with A.X.E.: Judgement Day. This is the big event that will have a meaningful impact on the future of the entire Marvel Universe. That scope is captured throughout A.X.E.: Judgement Day #2.
There is no time for the characters or the reader to catch and process everything going on in A.X.E.: Judgement Day #2. This issue is constantly on the go as The Hex that Druig summoned at the end of the previous issue are shown as a devastating force. From the second page on, we get a full scope of how powerful The Hex is. Credit to Schiti and Gracia for making The Hex really come across as forces of nature similar to how you would see the kaiju present in a Godzilla movie.
Helping make The Hex threat work so well is how the X-Men, and later Avengers when they join to help out, are shown fighting for their lives. Everything they are doing is to simply survive this threat that just one would be an incredibly tough battle. Having to deal with six of these towering Eternals came across as an impossible threat to overcome. This is shown by how even when the Avengers do show up we still see the likes of Logan’s Wolverine and Psylocke fall in battle. Its little touches like that help create tension for the overall battle that takes up the majority of A.X.E.: Judgement Day #2.
With how The Hex was presented made Exodus’s big sacrifice an even more powerful moment for this issue. While Exodus was brought back thanks to The Five it did not take away from the impact of his action of how he had to take down Syne The Memotaur. It was an impressive showcase of how powerful Exodus is and a reminder that at full power the Omega-Level mutants can take down an Eternal the size of The Hex.
The moments with Cyclops and Captain America in the middle of the battle against The Hex is one that has its good and bad. On the good side, I like that Gillen is pairing up the leaders of the Avengers and X-Men. Gillen shows how both Captain America and Cyclops stand on the same level with respect for one another, something we saw when Scott invited Steve to the first Hellfire Gala.
That said, it did not make Captain America look great that he chose this time when the Avengers and X-Men were fighting for their lives to call out Cyclops. It felt uncharacteristic that he would choose now, especially as he and Cyclops are saving kids on Krakoa, to have this big discussion. So while I understand that this is something that Captain America and Cyclops will be addressing with each other the setting chosen made this moment not work as well as if it was during the 24-hour deadline.
Speaking of which, I love the way things turned out with the gamble that Tony Stark convinced everyone to take had major consequences. Because while they were able “save the day” essentially bringing Progenitor is a gamble that likely will not pay off in the end. This is a great payoff to what it has meant for the Avengers to use the corpse of a dead Celestial as their home base and thinking because they’ve used it for so long things would be fine. This is once again a sign of not just Tony’s hubris but the Avengers as well as they, along with Ajax’s Eternals, caused an even bigger crisis to unfold.
Progenitor in its new form that has organic elements escalating things for everyone on Earth to be judged creates a lot of interesting scenarios for the direction of the rest of this series. The 24-hour deadline for Progenitor to declare their ultimate judgment puts into question how everyone will respond. Especially since Progenitor declared he will take in the actions of everyone. That provides a window to be open to other characters, particularly Marvel villains, to play a role in how things turn out in A.X.E.: Judgement Day. It also helps to shift the tone so that this event isn’t simply the X-Men vs the world like so many mutant-centric events.
While Progenitor and The Hex were presented as powerful villains it was noticeable that after all his announcements that Druig was nowhere to be found in A.X.E.: Judgement Day #2. His exclusion in this issue was a bit head-scratching since he was the one that instigated everything going on. It would’ve helped break up all the action a little bit if we saw a few panels of how Druig was taking in the X-Men and Avengers fighting The Hex.
As for the six civilians that were spotlighted in A.X.E.: Judgement Day #2 I am going to be reserving my own judgment for what Gillen intends to do with them. The fact that it’s six people that match the same count as The Hex’s numbers I don’t think was done as a coincidence. This is the first major appearance of both The Hex and these six civilians. Having a possible connection there wouldn’t be shocking and feeds into their importance to the story.
There is no time to rest in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #2 as Druig’s set The Hex to take out the mutants once and for all. This led to an action-heavy second chapter to A.X.E.: Judgment Day that is a real showcase of the talents of Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia. The different plot elements Kieron Gillen develops get us to where we need to get to so this event truly involves the entire Marvel Universe, not just one group. If things keep going this way A.X.E.: Judgment Day could very well be one of the best Marvel events we’ve had in quite some time.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10