The new X-Men team did not get any time to build up chemistry together before entering Marvel’s latest big event. The X-Men went from their formation during the 2022 Hellfire Gala straight into the events of A.X.E.: Judgment Day. To their veteran credit, we saw the new X-Men team work well together in X-Men #13 as they faced off against Druig’s Eternals. But now that the Progenitor has declared ultimate judgment to be set for all of Earth the game has changed. How will the X-Men respond? Let’s find out with X-Men #14, a tie-in to A.X.E.: Judgment Day.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: C.F. Villa
Colorist: Matt Milla
A gang from another planet tries to use the events with the Celestials to destroy Earth by causing a solar flare. Cyclops and Magik subdue the gang but not in time before they start the solar flares from happening.
After getting communication from Cyclops, Jean Grey has Iceman break off from fighting the Eternals to deal with the incoming solar flares.
With a boost from Jean, Iceman quickly makes it to Earth’s upper atmosphere. Iceman then begins creating a massive ice shield around Earth where the solar flares are set to hit.
As Iceman does this Jean contacts Firestar to get in position to melt all the ice when it breaks so it doesn’t hit the Earth’s surface.
With Forge’s guidance, Iceman is able to create multiple ice shields to block the solar flares. Firestar, along with Synch and Rogue as backup, then burns all the ice that falls back to Earth and melts it before it hits any city.
Sometime later a reporter is able to convince her editor to see past anti-LGBTQ+ bias to get a story about Iceman saving the world published.
Back over by Avengers Mountain, the Progenitor prepares to judge Cyclops. Cyclops stops the Progenitor by saying that he only ever accepts judgment from Jean and his teammates. After taking a second to process this statement the Progenitor gives a thumbs-up judgment for Cyclops. End of issue.
There is definitely a feeling that X-Men #14 could’ve taken place without the need for the A.X.E.: Judgment Day setting. Throughout this issue, you just about forget that A.X.E.: Judgment Day is going on, even when Magik mentions that they are currently dealing with the Celestials and Eternals. Whether he meant to or not this entire comic book reads like Gerry Duggan meant for the story to be a standalone X-Men story to build momentum for the team rather than tying it into Marvel’s big event.
Focusing on building up this latest version of the team is where X-Men #14 excels. Choosing to focus on Iceman and Firestar is a good call given that they are characters that haven’t gotten much attention. These two needed to be rebuilt back up to show why they are the powerhouses of this new X-Men team.
We get that with how Iceman is presented in showcasing why he is an Omega-Level Mutant. It is all the small details in Duggan’s dialogue and C.F. Villa’s artwork that puts this fact over. We see Iceman fighting through the pain when the solar flare hits and creates multiple ice shields to protect Earth. Adding in the detail of Forge providing him more info on how he should create the ice shields was a nice touch to show different combinations for this team.
Firestar also provides backup by melting all the ice so nobody on Earth gets hurt from the ice debris adding to how this was a superhero effort. Jean Grey understood that shielding Earth from the solar flares would have the drawback of falling debris that they had to consider. Firestar being in this spot helped to put her over more as she can be more than just a long-distance fighter. There are different ways for members of this X-Men team to provide support for each other.
The only thing that did not work was how Synch and Rogue were brought in at the last minute. The way both characters were brought came across as Duggan remembering mid-story that these two powerful characters should be involved. Synch in particular as still, a member of the X-Men would’ve been great to see him work with Firestar at the very least to further put over how the members of the team compliment each other.
When it comes to the A.X.E.: Judgment Day tie-in that felt like an afterthought. The way it was done was very forced as the story with the X-Men protecting Earth really could’ve been told at any time. There was no need for the A.X.E.: Judgment Day tie-in and you can tell this was a story that was meant to do the early building of the new X-Men team post-Hellfire Gala.
That said on its own I did like how Duggan emphasized that for Cyclops the people’s opinion he cares most about is Jean Grey and his teammates. Even in the face of a God-like being Progenitor changes this view. It complimented well how when it came to Captain America’s judgment Steve Rogers just let it happen as a judge of his solo character. In contrast, Scott Summers, while being in a leadership position most of his career, is a team-first type of person and places great importance on those closest to him. Progenitor taking this into account when he judges Cyclops also helps to show that the Celestial is taking many things into account when making its judgment on the world.
As a standalone superhero comic book, X-Men #14 continues the trend of Gerry Duggan telling stories effectively in one issue. This is a great showcase for Iceman and Firestar as they are given major spotlights in this issue. When it comes to being a tie-in to A.X.E.: Judgment Day that part of the story is more of an afterthought. Hopefully once A.X.E.: Judgment Day we get to see the new X-Men team have time to build up their chemistry.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10