A.X.E.: Death to the Mutants #2

Issue Date: 
November 2022
Story Title: 

Kieron Gillen (writer), Guiu Vilanova (artist), Alex Gumaiares (color), VC’s Travis Lanham (letterer), Esad Ribis(cover artist), Leinil Francis Yu (cover variant) Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Shannon Andrews Ballesteros (assistant editor), Tom Breevort (editor), Jordan D. White (senior editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Kro, leader of the Deviants offers his people’s assistance to the Krakoans. Emma Frost is suspicious but accepts. As it turns out, Deviants are similar enough to mutants that they can use the Krakoan gates. Kro leads an army of Deviants to Krakoa, where they engage the attacking Hex, allowing a team of mutants to attack the Progenitor. Unfortunately, said attack fails. Later, Kro props up Emma’s spirits after her failed judgment. The Progenitor confronts Kro about his reason for helping the mutants and surprisingly passes him. In fact, all the Deviants get a pass for helping the mutants. At the North Pole, Ajak and Makkari prepare a means of communicating with the Progenitor. Ikaris hijacks it and demands the Celestial kill the Eternal race. The Progenitor will consider it and then fails Makkari and passes Phastos. Sersi, in the meantime, has a plan. She hires criminal Jack of Knives and together they break Starfox out of the Exclusion. Before he leaves, Starfox talks to his mother and promises he will stop squandering his potential. Syne the Memotaur of the Hex has befriended online a student, Sally. They bond over their mutual love for poetry. However, when Sally procrastinates about doing a zine, she gets failed by the Progenitor. Syne urges her to do the zine anyway.

Full Summary: 

London, UK:
Sally is a young student who studies poetry. She’s trying to distract herself from the whole Judgment Day thing, talking poetry online. There’s a new account called memotaur, who is interested in Sally’s idea of doing a zine. She doesn’t know anything but is interested in everything. Sally finds her brilliant, funny, smart but really naïve. She’s never read Elliot, then an hour later she says the most amazing things about The Waste Land. Sally wonders if the person is catfishing or trolling. Her account was made yesterday.

When Sally asks, memotaur replies that her family has kept her really isolated. She just wants to catch up. Sally is still suspicious but, as long as the stranger doesn’t ask for money or nudes, she will play along. Any distraction is good. She tells her Memotaur is a funny name. What is she like in IRL? Syne the Memotaur coyly replies she is really tall. What she doesn’t tell Sally is that as one of the six member of the HEX she has returned to battling Krakoa.

Lemuria, capital of the Deviants:
The Machine that is Earth introduces Emma Frost whom the Machine thinks is an atypical mutant. They are not all so fabulous. Kro, leader of the Deviants, is in a call with Emma. Emma is suspicious at Kro offering the Deviants’ assistance against the Eternals. Kro replies if their foes think the mutants are Deviants, that’s deviant enough for them. They will not let them stand alone. Plus, there is a certain self-interest. The Eternals have always been bad… but they let Uranos out. If they let him out on Earth, they are all likely dust. They need powerful friends. The mutants are powerful. It would be wonderful if they could strike up an unlikely friendship in this wonderful time.

Emma bluntly asks why they should trust him. Kro replies he is a charming supervillain monarch of a people in a difficult situation, with enemies that want them dead. He feels she may have a certain empathy for him. And perhaps attraction. She wouldn’t be the first. Emma matches his grin. Flirting as the world falls to pieces? He is terrible.

The Machine muses how alike the mutants and Deviants are really. It’s a good question, but they certainly have enough in common that the Deviants can use the Krakoan teleportation gates, as shown as Kro and an army of Deviants join the mutants on Krakoa joining them in their battle against the attacking Hex.

Emma telepathically thanks Kro and explains they have a plan to end this. They need the Deviants to defend the island while the mutants deploy their best attack forces to finish off this little Frankenstein’s monster of a god. Can they handle it?

Absolutely not, Kro replies. He gives an order and Karkas the Kind drags through the gate a cage with a Deviant in the stage of excess deviancy. Kro apologizes then gives the order to deploy. Karkas throws the cage at the Hex. Faced with genuine excess deviation the Hex follow the Principles and all focus on the Deviant in the cage.

Are they sure they’ve got this? Cyclops asks before Magik teleports him and the team away. Oh probably, good luck with their plan, Kro replies, “hope you kill our god.”

Of course, they fail.

Later on Krakoa, Emma and Kro take a walk. Kro remarks that, while it didn’t work, at least it precipitated a break in the attack on Krakoa. They should get ready. He knows Eternals. They’ll try something else and likely something more noxious. Emma thanks him, then breaks off. Kro notes she is upset and asks what is wrong. It seems she’s really rather awful, Emma admits. She saw it. It appeared as something she feels terribly judged by. Thumbs down. It hurt. If the world ends today, it’s partially on her.

Kro states if she is left feeling angry and disgusted with herself because of a Celestial, perhaps the Eternals are right and the mutants are Deviants. That’s always been their lot. However, there is an ancient Deviant proverb he often finds useful to meditate upon, which he’ll share. Hopefully she will find it of use: “The Celestials can go &%$§ themselves.” Emma smiles.

The Machine thinks that Deviants die young, younger even than humans. Kro is an exception. Twenty thousand years ago, he was a boy when the Celestials came and attacked Lemuria. He ran but looked back. He saw Arishem the Judge looming over the city. He will never forget it. In many ways, he has been running from it ever since. He knows eventually it will catch up.

Suddenly, Kro finds himself alone facing the Progenitor in the form of Arishem, thumb outstretched. Why did he lead his people here to die? the Celestial demands. Cynicism, my dear god, Kro retorts. Everything he said to Frost was true. Better they stand with powerful people. They are doomed. Perhaps with the mutants they are not… and… he hoped the new god would be more clement than the old one. If not, it matters not. The Deviants are caviar for its palate once more. If it is a better god, perhaps a new covenant will help them, too.

The Progenitor’s hand trembles, inching downward. To the Machine’s surprise, it reverses its course. Kro passes, marginally. He is cynical but understandably so. But he did not march to war alone and did not share his reasoning with those that followed him. Deviants stood with mutants for no reason bar the fact that they understood. The Progenitor appears to them and every single Deviant passes.

The Deviants have been abhorred by their gods for a million years. For this brief moment, they feel love. It is wonderful and awful. But, while the Deviants pass together, the Eternals seem to fly or fall alone.

The Delphan Brothers have failed and argue. They blame each other, the experiment that made them multiple. Was it heresy? Many have said so, but surely the Delphan Mother should be blamed, not them. However, it’s hard to hate your mother and easier to punch your brother. Ask Cain.

Prime Eternal Druig watches their quarrel and chews his nails and wonders how he will be judged. He watches his extinction machines renew their attack on Krakoa and checks the one he has in reserve:

Uranos the Undying sits in his cell, unsurprised when the Progenitor appears to him. Uranos tells it is too early to judge hm and the god knows it. Wait as he has waited. He has barely begun! The Celestial seems to concur. Judgment is deferred.

The North Pole where several of the renegade Eternals are at work. Ikaris asks Phastos about their plan. He replies that Sersi has a plan but she isn’t telling them about it again. She’s off taking some private meetings.

Ajak and Makkari are preparing some kind of lectern. Ajak insists the plan is the same. They talk to their new god and understand what it needs. Their old gods were cruel. Their new one is just unknown. They must know it. A freshly crafted god must understand them as they must understand it. With this dais they can speak to it and make their case.

Ikaris pushes the two priests away and takes the place at the lectern. He shouts at the Celestial that, whatever happens, death to the Eternals! Horrified, Ajak tries to push him away. He unleashes his eyebeams at her. She had a million years to prattle heaven-ward. Let him have his minute! Ikaris again addresses the Celestial, even as Makkari and Ajak try to drag him away. Ikaris asks the Celestial to remove the Eternals from the Machine. They are an obsolete tool! The war that rages is only because of the Eternals’ lack of purpose. They are a warrior race turned to abomination! They are death! All they have been is death! End them! Ikaris demands.

Ajak tells him he is lost in grief. What if it listens? Then the world would be a better place! he shoots back.

The Celestial begins to speak and announces it will consider it. Now he considers them, he speaks to the two priests and Phastos. They made it. They made it with purloined knowledge, ambitious plans and Tony Stark. And even with all that they thought it would turn out well. They see it now. It asks each of them, with that knowledge would they do it again?

No, Phastos states. He thought this the lesser of two evils. It wasn’t.

No, signs, Makkari. She needed more time to prepare. It is flawed. They could have done better, given time.

Yes, Ajak insists, because they do not truly know if the Progenitor is flawed. This is a time of tests! One must have faith in their gods. The Celestial renders its judgment. Phastos passes, Makkari fails and Ajak’s judgment will be deferred for now… as will Ikaris’. But it tells Ikaris this:

An Eternal has been lying to him.

The Machine thinks to itself that the Progenitor is referring to Sersi, who lied to Ikaris about telling humans the truth about resurrection.

Phastos asks why he and Makkari received different judgments, despite giving the same answer. The Progenitor explains that Makkari regrets but presses on. She has done nothing to turn back. Conversely, Phastos gave the X-Men assistance in their attempt to destroy the Progenitor.

Ajak angrily attacks Phastos when she hears that.

The Machine pithily comments on the hero-on-hero fight, until the Progenitor notices it and warns it that it will not escape judgment either.

Sersi is visiting Eternal criminal-for-hire Jack of Knives, who is leading her through their private knife collection. They scoff at Sersi’s plan to break someone out of the Exclusion. They may be a criminal, but they aren’t criminally stupid. The Prime Eternal has them on a retainer, plus Kharon and Ur-Luciva would hold a grudge forever! But if Jack could do it, what would Sersi pay them? Sersi rolls her eyes. Haggling during the apocalypse! Jack retorts they think they will be judged badly if they take a crappy deal. You’ve got to stick to your code. Sersi points out, if this works, she will give them a tomorrow and a tomorrow and a tomorrow, after that. Jack smiles and chooses a special blade.

Once inside the Exclusion, Jack only needs to open the door of a cell. As far as the Exclusion goes, it is minimum security. Excluded E has been in here since he died. They thought him a possible vector for Thanos to return to this reality. He is also viewed with suspicion. Excluded E is the only one to be added to the Great Machine later. Thanos tried and failed. Eros succeeded without trying. Appropriate, since he is good at not trying. In this area and this alone he is his brother’s better.

Is it a relaxing drink or saving the world first? Eros of Titan aka Starfox asks with a smile. What’s the next step? Jack informs him the next step is to engage their stealth field and get back through the incision they cut to get him. Eros replies, before they leave, he has to speak to his mother Sui-San, who is imprisoned here as well. Jack rolls their eyes but helps break open Sui-San’s cell. Eros asks his mother if she has seen the judgment creature. It hasn’t come for him yet. Sui-San replies that it came but has declined to judge her yet. Even with Thanos on her tally, it has not yet decided her worth.

Eros tells her he understands now. He has wasted so many years. He won’t waste another day. He promises to balance the scales for this cursed family and the entire world. He has to!

The Machine muses that it is a comforting belief that it is not too late, less comforting for those for whom it is too late.

The Progenitor appears to Sally as her dead grandmother and fails her.

Sally is shocked, then realizes why she failed. The text on her phone that she didn’t do her Zine. She has helped doom the world with procrastination.

Memotaur urges her to start it now. She will submit something. She always wanted to be published somewhere, she begs. Sally asks if she has been judged yet. When Memotaur tells her ‘no,’ Sally asks if she thinks she will get the thumbs down for not submitting enough poetry. Memotaur doesn’t think so. She is sure she is going to be judged by something else entirely.

As a member of the Hex Syne, the Memotaur attacks Krakoa and kills mutants hoping that will prevent a god from burning a planet. He composes poetry as she does so. She hopes her friend will like it as much as she hopes her god likes the burning…

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Cyclops. Emma Frost, Magik, Nightcrawler, Wolverine

Ajak, Ikaris, Makkari, Phastos, Sersi (renegade Eternals)
Kro (leader of the Deviants
Karkas, Ransak and other Deviants

Druig, the Delphan brothers, Uranos
Phebe Reginax, Rheaka Centaurus, Syne the Memotaur,Tetytrona 3000, The Themex, Thiaka the Harpiscus (The Hex)

The Progenitor


Story Notes: 

The issue crosses over with A.X.E: Judgment Day #3.

The Machine that is Earth summarizes the attempt to destroy the Progenitor (as shown in A.X.E: Judgment Day #3).

Druig let Uranos wreak havoc on Mars in X-Men Red (2nd series) #5.

Phastos helped the mutants by informing them about the Progenitor’s vulnerability in A.X.E: Judgment Day #3.

Starfox was killed by Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy (5th series) #6 to prevent Thanos from being reborn in his body. How Starfox was resurrected / became part of the Machine will be explained in A.X.E.: Starfox.

Thanos trying to become part of the Machine was the plot of Eternals (5th series) #7-12. However, he learned that, while he had started out as a true Eternal, his frequent deaths and rebirths had changed him into something else.

FAILED: White Queen, Delphan Brothers; Makkari, Sally
PASSED. The entire Deviant race, Phastos
Deferred: Uranos, Ikaris, Ajak, Sui-San

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