A.X.E.: Judgment Day has had its ups and downs but I’ve generally enjoyed the ride as the Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals have all been tested by the Progenitor. The ultimate judge of a Celestial, Progenitor has not held back being the final rule like the God it proposes to be. We’ve already seen most of humanity wiped out by the Progenitor. The judgment has left very few Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals to try to stop the Progenitor’s decisions. How will this event end? Let’s find out with A.X.E.: Judgment Day #6.
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Valerio Schiti and Ivan Fiorelli
Colorist: Marte Gracia
As the Progenitor begins to set in motion the end of the world Captain America, Nightcrawler, and Starfox use the Eternals transport nodes to shelter the remaining people on Earth.
With the Progenitor distracted while trying to reach the world’s core to destroy Earth Jean Grey uses this as an opportunity to kill the Celestial from the inside but is stopped by Ajak.
Outside Synch, Hope Summers, and other X-Men have gained control of The Hex’s Syne the Memotaur to battle Progenitor though this only buys the strike team time.
When that doesn’t work Orchis surprisingly shows up to help out.
Back inside the Progenitor Jean, Ajak, and Tony Stark discuss how this is all likely a test by Progenitor. This ends up being true as when Jean makes it clear she will destroy Progenitor to protect those left the Progenitor once again fails Jean.
Seeing all of this goes down Sersi makes a global broadcast to reveal the truth about the Eternals’ immortality, which is when an Eternal returns to life it comes at the cost of a human dying in their place.
While Progenitor was intrigued by Sersi’s message it completely annihilates Sersi after declaring she has failed, making her the first Eternal to truly die.
Witnessing this Jean and Tony both use emotional reasoning to appeal that all beings have the right to make amends for their past. Hearing both out Progenitor realizes it’s not a God as it realizes its own limits, something Gods should have. Progenitor then uses all its power to return the world to how it was before its judgment.
In its final moments, Progenitor asks Ajak to judge it. Ajax gives Progenitor a thumbs-down judgment. With this, the Progenitor passes its powers down to Ajak while asking her to be better.
Ajak then reappears in her new Celestial form now going by the name of Ajak Celestia.
As the world returns to normal Prime Eternal Zuras apologizes to Storm for all the transgressions against Arakko Druig did in a world broadcast. This does nothing for the Eternals’ image which has been completely tarnished as they receive nothing but hate from the public.
Over at the X-Men Treehouse, Jean Grey announces her Phoenix Foundation initiative that is completely independent of Krakoa. With the Phoenix Foundation Jean makes it her mission to help those most in need through the resurrection protocols she has implemented personally.
While this helps the X-Men’s image slightly Scott Summers comments to Jean in private about how Orchis has gained supporters in the public.
Elsewhere, while the Avengers discuss whether they should stay in the Avengers Mountain made of a dead Celestial, Ajak Celestia continues to implement a Judgment Day on Earth every day. End of issue.
A.X.E.: Judgment Day #6 is a finale that should hit harder than it does. Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti, and Ivan Fiorelli create a lot of big developments that could all have major ramifications for the Marvel Universe moving forward. But in a rush to make this ending as possible you see how there was a lot of wasting time that certain elements of this story didn’t get the attention they should have.
I will give Gillen credit for creating a solution to resolve the conflict with the Progenitor that didn’t simply come down to the heroes punching harder than the villains. A.X.E.: Judgment Day was never built to be that simple when all was said and done. This was always about the weight of the decisions of all the Marvel characters. It’s those decisions that ultimately play a role in how it could be said that the Avengers and X-Men save the day.
Specifically using Tony Stark, Jean Grey, and Sersi as the ones who ultimately lead to the resolution was well done. Throughout this event, Gillen has shown how these three are the most flawed characters in the Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals. They all have such a past that makes them all representative of what the Progenitor was doing throughout this event. Ultimately their words being what makes the Progenitor realize it is not fit to be a God due to the flaws it was built with as a Celestial made it all matter more.
With that said Gillen doesn’t really get as into what it meant for Progenitor to reset the Earth back to what it was before it started judging humanity. Gillen with Schiti and Fiorelli attempt to show that but they are so brief you don’t get the weight of how Earth went through such a traumatic event. It was just back to business as usual which is best showcased by how the Avengers’ reaction to all of this was to joke around about if they should continue operating out of a dead Celestial.
What was a particular missed opportunity by Gillen throughout A.X.E.: Judgment Day is how Tony really should have bared more of the weight of being responsible for Progenitor’s creation. That is brought up in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #6 as it is possibly why Tony was able to pass the Progenitor’s judgment. But as much as you expect that type of story development to give Tony a big emotional arc Gillen just gets him back to being the asshole and an example of why the Avengers aren’t always trusted by other hero teams.
On a more positive note, coming out of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #6 I am left interested in how the X-Men comics will tackle the fallout from all of this. We already see that in a similar way Scott Summers broke away from Krakoa’s way of thinking that Jean Grey has now established the Phoenix Foundation. The Phoenix Foundation not being tied to Krakoa does further the idea that the X-Men will operate even more independently from what the Quiet Council is doing. Which could all lead to a bigger conflict down the line since this is all done by Jean and Scott, two people who have held high positions of authority on Krakoa.
What I’m a bit more mixed on is how Orchis ends up leaving A.X.E.: Judgment Day. On the positive side, Orchis ultimately using the Eternals and Progenitor to further their cause and gain greater public support is an intriguing development. This pushes the X-Men vs Orchis plotline even more towards the forefront as the big story for the franchise moving forward. It certainly adds more fuel to the fire as now the X-Men and Orchis are each gaining their own public support in different ways.
That said, what did not work was that this development all came out of nowhere. Outside of Moira MacTaggert’s appearance in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1 Orchis has been non-existent in this event. To suddenly pop in the way they did without any sort of dialogue or scene to show how they are using Progenitor to further their cause was a big miss. Because until Jean and Scott mention Orchis at the end of this issue you would not remember their appearance since it is treated as a blink and you miss it moment. Orchis should’ve been shown to be working in the shadows throughout A.X.E.: Judgment Day, even if it was one or two quick scenes in each issue of this event.
Now when it comes to the Eternals’ role in all of this I am not left more interested in that franchise than I was before A.X.E.: Judgment Day started. Sure the developments with Sersi revealing the truth about the Eternals’ immortality was a good twist. But what it ended up leading to was the Eternals being positioned like the X-Men. That doesn’t necessarily make them more interesting. It’s all a narrative I’ve seen Marvel try before with the Inhumans stealing ideas from the X-Men in the past. All this does is make the Eternals into the X-Men-lite just like the Inhumans once were turned into and we all know how “well” that worked for them.
It doesn’t help that Druig, who initiated everything, was treated as a nothing character since the second issue of this event. There should’ve been more done to get over how Druig was the one who did all the damage being done on Earth. The result of Druig being tossed aside so early is that he comes across as a minion character rather than a big threat at the end of this big event.
When it came down to the artwork both Valerio Schiti and Ivan Fiorelli worked really well together. It is not very noticeable when the change in artist happens. Which all helps keep the momentum moving forward in the story. Schiti and Fiorelli both get over how the Earth really faced an end-of-the-world scenario. Everything that went down looked like a big event in every panel. Even when things were resolved the artwork did all it could to put over how there are serious ramifications for what went down.
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Ultimately A.X.E.: Judgment Day #6 did not make a smooth landing to conclude the latest Marvel event. Resolving the story through emotional story beats rather than who can punch harder was done well. As was what the ending could mean for the X-Men moving forward. Unfortunately, there are many moments in this final issue that come across as hollow on the Avengers and Eternals’ side of the story. Luckily great artwork from Valerio Schiti and Ivan Fiorelli help lift an ending that should’ve been more impactful than it turned out to be.
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10