A.X.E.: Judgment Day started at a high level with Druig’s Eternal group going all out in an attempt to eliminate the mutants as they’ve been deemed Deviants for their resurrection protocols. In an attempt to stop Druig’s Eternals assault, which included using the Kaiju-sized The Hex group, the Avengers and Ajak’s Eternals brought back to life the dead Celestial that was being used for Avengers Mountain. That turned out to be a mistake as the revived Celestial, named The Progenitor, has announced it will judge the entire world if Earth is worthy of being around. With stakes raised even more how will things go in Marvel’s latest big event? Let’s find out with A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3.
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colorist: Marte Gracia
The Progenitor starts its judgment of Earth by judging Captain America as a failure causing Iron Man to grow even more concerned about how he and the others will be judged.
Meanwhile, Druig and Uranos talk about what The Progenitor is doing. After revealing he is having Jack Of Knives spying on the Avengers, Druig commands The Hex to resume their attack on Krakoa.
Back at Avengers Mountain, Ajak makes it clear that she will not allow Iron Man and Mr. Sinister to destroy The Progenitor as it is the Eternals God. After Ajak leaves, Phastos warns Iron Man whatever he is planning has to be done quickly and safely because if The Progenitor blows up it takes out the Earth with it. Hearing this Mr. Sinister reaches out to Destiny
On Krakoa, while Bishop leads the X-Men teams against The Hex, Destiny has Emma Frost psychically assemble the Quiet Council for an emergency meeting. Mr. Sinister reveals that he is with the Avengers and Eternals that’s given him a chance to find a way to take out The Progenitor. A vote is called with the vote to take out The Progenitor winning.
The Quiet Council then have differing opinions about creating a strike force as it would take some of their strongest away from defending Krakoa. Emma Frost reveals she has a secret that can help.
In another part of Krakoa, Cyclops meets up with Kro and the Deviants. Kro says since the mutants are Deviants as well they are there to help fight The Hex.
Back over at Avengers Mountain, Ajak detects the X-Men strike team going after The Progenitor. Ajak immediately sends out her Eternals team to take out the X-Men.
With the fight going back and forth Exodus focuses on fighting Ikaris to give Jean Grey an opening to take out The Progenitor. Iron Man tries to stop Jean but she is able to get passed him to launch an attack. As she does that Jean realizes her mistake too late and causes a massive explosion when taking out The Progenitor.
The explosion that takes out all of Earth ends up being all fake as part of The Progenitor’s way of judging Earth. The Progenitor immediately hands down judgment that the Quiet Council are all failures but decides to hold its judgment of the X-Men for a longer period.
With tension rising between Ajak and Mr. Sinister, Sersi decides to step in with her own plan.
Later with Jack Of Knives help Sersi gets into The Exclusion. There Sersi meets with Starfox to have an old Avengers Assemble reunion. End of issue.
When it comes to keeping the stakes high for what is going in A.X.E.: Judgment Day both Kieron Gillen and Valerio Schiti succeed. The danger is there that you feel extreme concern for how things will turn out for the Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals. While that works into the overall strength of A.X.E.: Judgment Day thus far this third issue does falter in key ways.
At this point A.X.E.: Judgment Day has been more of an X-Men event than it has been a crossover with the Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals. The biggest contribution the Avengers and Eternals have made is to create one dangerous situation after another. Even in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3 both the Avengers and Eternals largely just stand around until the two Eternals groups decide for their own reasons to attack the X-Men.
What is particularly noticeable is that Iron Man and Captain America are the only Avengers that actually appear in this issue. And really Iron Man is the only Avengers representative with notable scenes in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3. With such a minimal presence it does make the Avengers look terrible that in the face of an end-of-the-world scenario that they aren’t shown trying to help. Whether it is being shown calming down people of the world after The Progenitor’s declaration of judgment or helping Krakoa against The Hex, something more than Iron Man standing around and Captain America appearing as a hologram would’ve gone a long way.
The lack of contribution on the Avengers side of this story does make how the X-Men choose to respond even more understandable. Because once again Gillen reminds the reader what mutants are guilty of is simply existing. They are left to survive yet another assault by Druig’s The Hex group while also figuring out what to do about The Progenitor. And given that Avengers and Eternals don’t even take the time to fill the X-Men in on what their options are after The Progenitor’s announcement what the Quiet Council choose to do did feel like the only option.
In this process, Gillen does a great job of showcasing how the Quiet Council comes to its decisions. The vote is held in a quick manner as there is very little time to argue. The entire psychic meeting of the Quiet Council not only showcases their democratic process but also how powerful they each are. Emphasizing how they are holding this vote while most of them are also in the middle of fighting The Hex and the psychic siege. Adding in how this was all being done while Charles Xavier was still dead made Emma Frost’s efforts even more impressive since her doing a lot of heavy lifting to make up for Krakoa’s leader is dead.
The results of the Quiet Council playing right into what The Progenitor set up was a cool swerve to how things started. The Progenitor making a judgment on Captain America to open A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3 created a setting where you unquestionably are along with the X-Men acting as quickly as they did. That playing right into The Progenitor’s plans to judge mutants worked well.
What made this even more interesting is that only the Quiet Council members got judgment while the X-Men including Jean Grey, who was called out for her major mistake, were given more time to be judged by The Progenitor. Why The Progenitor decided to give the X-Men more time transitions well into how our heroes need to be much more careful with their decision-making.
At the same time, all of this still doesn’t help with how Gillen positions the Avengers and Eternals in all of this. Ajak’s attitude in all of this is the only part that actually works because she is given time to give her side and why she is against acting. Everyone else just stands around or fights the X-Men until Sersi finally decides to act. Which does limit the impact intended by the Starfox reveal at the end of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3.
As someone that is not familiar with Starfox’s character, I’ll have to reserve judgment on the impact of Starfox’s appearance for what happens in the next issue. The dialogue Starfox has was nothing special. But given what has happened in A.X.E.: Judgment Day I do want to give Gillen the benefit of the doubt that he’ll do something with Starfox to make the Avengers and Eternals actually contribute to the story with the X-Men.
The brief appearance by Druig in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3 was also much better than the character’s disappearance in the previous issue. Given that Druig is the one that kickstarted this event he should be shown as the puppet master more. Druig’s back-and-forth with Uranos shows that there is a lot of potential to make him a memorable big event antagonist. Which is something that Gillen hopefully taps into more in the second half of A.X.E.: Judgment Day.
All that said, Valerio Schiti is no doubt continuing to steal the show with incredible art that continues in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3. Schiti is on another level right now as he gives this entire event a larger-than-life presentation. The sense of urgency that is had with the X-Men is thanks to how Schiti draws everything along with great coloring by Marte Gracia. A great example of that is how we see the battle against The Hex on Krakoa while at the same time the Quiet Council has a psychic meeting. The difference in how these scenes are drawn and colored adds to the richness of this universe.
While having a few key developments A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3 doesn’t push the story forward as much as you expect. We are left in a similar spot when A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3 started as our heroes figure out what to do with The Progenitor’s announcement. While we do get a lot of cool moments you are left wishing more was done story-wise. That said, we do get a lot of excellent artwork from Valerio Schiti that drives home how we are experiencing a big event. The art alone makes you look forward to what big thing we will get to see Schiti draw next.
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10