A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1

Issue Date: 
September 2022
Story Title: 

Kieron Gillen (writer), Valerio Schiti (artist), Dean White (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Valerio Schiti & Marte gracia (cover artists), Ivan Shavrin (cover variant) Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Shannon Andrews Ballesteros (assistant editor), Jake Thomas (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: 

Mutantkind is hated again as everybody now knows about the secret of mutant resurrection. New Prime Eternal Druig uses this info to convince his fellow Eternals that mutants are another kind of Deviant and have to be stopped. Working together with Orchis, Druig learns from Moira MacTaggert that the secret of mutant immortality is the Five. He sends a team of Eternals to attack Krakoa physically. While part of the Uni-mind telepathically paralyzes the Quiet Council, the Assassin Jack of Knives kills one of the Five – Egg - and is about to kill Hope Summers, when he is stopped by Wolverine. This also allows the Quiet Council to break free from their stupor. In the meantime, Druig has sent his grandfather Uranos, one of the most dangerous Eternals, to Arakko to wreak havoc there for one hour. Nightcrawler returns to Krakoa from Arakko, announcing it is hell and asking to resurrect them. The Five bring back Cable, who died at Uranos’ hands. The Avengers, in the meantime, have captured the Eternal Sersi and are questioning her about current events and why her group of Eternals snuck into Avengers Mountain recently. Sersi plays it cool first but, when she learns of Druig’s deeds, she explains how her group have split off from mainstream Eternal society. They are joined by two Eternal priests, Ajak and Makkari, and their prisoner Mr. Sinister. They explain the Eternals won’t give up as they are immortal. The only way they can be stopped is by one of their gods – the Celestials. Considering the Avengers live in the body of a dead Celestial, they have the plan of creating a new Celestial who will stop the war. In the meantime, Druig speaks to the world, painting himself as humanity’s friend and announces that the Hex, six giant Eternals, are now on their way to attack Krakoa.

Full Summary: 

An unknown speaker narrates it doesn’t exist yet, but will soon, it begins to observe, about to decide who are the heroes here.

On the balcony of a restaurant in New York, Tony Stark is having lunch with the Eternal Sersi. He suggests cutting to the chase. Why are they going to be fighting again in a day or two? She asks him to let her finish her drink first. Is he serious? At the moment, she is much more likely to pick a fight with the mutants. They are such plagiarists. Returning to life is the Eternals’ thing.

She is not going to make this easy, he decides. A moment later, Echo, the current wielder of the Phoenix Force, flies in to attack her. She drags Sersi high into the air, where fellow powerhouses Captain Marvel and Thor are waiting. Sersi is taken out and Captain Marvel informs Stark.

The Treehouse in New York, the X-Men’s current HQ:
Looking out the window, Cyclops asks his wife Jean Grey if that was the Phoenix. It is strange seeing the Phoenix being an Avenger. Jean, however, is distracted by the angry crowd outside. People have been protesting since it has become public knowledge that the mutants have technology to return from the dead. She can feel their anger and grief. She refers to one young woman, Jada, thinking how many times has Jean come back – her daughter is still dead!

What can they say? Jean wonders. Cyclops replies, they tell the truth. It is a practicality. The Five can’t bring everyone back. even if they wanted to. And most of all, it’s not like everyone has stopped killing mutants.

Krakoa (population 200,000):
Somewhere atop a volcano, Nightcrawler meets with his mother Mystique and her wife Destiny. He asks the precog how sure she is about there being a war. She tells him there will always be a war. The precise details are the problem. They are elusive. Orchis are ready, but it’s not them…

There will always be a war, Kurt repeats. He could really do without her cynicism right now. Mystique sighs, commenting that she sometimes wonders if he is her child. Genetics isn’t destiny, he shoots back. She retorts he will be hated for every second of his life for what he is. Of course, it is!

Destiny shushes them… she can see it. The Eternals will try to kill them all! They decide to call the Quiet Council and they have to warn Arakko too. Kurt’s on it. He jumps though one of the Krakoan portals…

…and steps out on planet Arakko (population 1,000,000):
Taking in its alien beauty, he marvels at life, at taking a breath on Mars. Don’t use that ugly human word, a voice chides him from behind. This is Arakko, Magneto continues, and for those breaths thank the mutant responsible. He refers to Storm who stands next to him, with Cable sitting nearby. “Bravo, monarch of Mars!” he addresses her. She retorts she isn’t a monarch and it was a team effort.

Nightcrawler informs them of Destiny’s vision: war is coming – it’s the Eternals. The Quiet Council is about to meet and the Great Ring of Arakko needs to know. She needs to be in both places, Storm points out, being a member of both ruling bodies. Magneto suggests she take Arakko’s perspective to Krakoa. Kurt and he will bring it to the Great Ring. He addresses Cable regarding their plan of war. Cable has a few thoughts on how to take the Eternals on. It won’t be easy. But nothing they can’t handle. Really? Kurt asks skeptically, pointing out both groups can’t die. This is not good. He wonders why the Eternals have a problem with them.

Eternals,” Magneto stresses the name. Did they think that the powers that be would surrender the beaches of forever without a fight? The Olympians tore down the Titans. Mutants follow in their deicidal footsteps. They are the world’s new gods. The time of the old ones is over!

Avengers Mountain:
Sersi awakes shackled to a chair. Iron Man stands in front of her. She asks where she is. Stark explains he is suspicious she messed with him. He needed a safe place to talk-cum-interrogate. It’s a psychic dead room deep in Avengers Mountain. They can talk safely and she can’t call for help. She reminds him she is a minor psychic but a world class matter manipulator. To underscore her point, she changes her gown into her usual costume. With his history, she could give him a stroke, if she chose to.

Coolly, he replies her posturing is just making him more suspicious. Imagine if she were in his shoes. She scoffs she would never wear any of his shoes. That armor doesn’t even have a kitten heel! Assume she needs convincing. Show her his PowerPoint and hope his transitions are enough to wow her into compliance, Sersi suggests. He protests it is his own bespoke system, then tells her to forget it. Last month, the Eternals snuck into Avengers Mountain to try some of their cosmic stuff. Only, when the Eternals’ mission failed, they told the Avengers the entire truth: Thanos was on Earth and somehow leading the Eternals. And Earth was minutes away from destruction!

Sersi admits, she regrets that. Stark replies that, if he was in a more giving mood, he’d think that’s nice, but… Sersi says “regret.” She doesn’t say it was a mistake. She doesn’t even apologize. Sersi snaps, there are things only Eternals can know. Only they could stop Thanos. And they did!

Things that only Eternals can know,” he repeats. Is this another doomsday they’ve chosen to hide? He orders her to tell him. She shoots back he should tell her what he knows, and she’ll see what she can do to help. Really? he scoffs. After everything, she just expects the ape in the suit to show all his cards? Really?

This isn’t the way, a voice announces over intercom. He is coming in. Stark warns that he will be exposed. She is an untrustworthy telepath. They had a plan. They did, Captain America agrees as he enters, but it’s bad. Sersi was an Avenger. They have to show her some trust. The Eternals are going to war, he states and asks her to tell them what she knows. Well, she knows that war is significantly more likely now that they have strapped her to this unfashionable and uncomfortable chair. Unamused, he glares and she realizes he wasn’t joking. What is Druig do… she begins, then demands they tell her what they know.

Iron Man explains that, since the Eternals hid Thanos from them, he has been keeping an eye on them. Last week there was a huge spike in the Pacific Ocean that cut out instantly, as if testing something. In the last 24 hours, a series of low-level impulses have become visible across the world. Something is warming up. Something is coming. What are they doing? Cap asks. Sersi explains she isn’t part of it. The Eternals are not a team. They are a society. A society she and her friends have left. She is not the Eternal they need to worry about.

The Eternal they do need to worry about, new Prime Eternal Druig, has been addressing his fellow Eternals in Olympia one hour ago within the Uni-mind. He reminds them of the Principles they uphold, particularly “Correct Excess Deviation.” For a million years, they have done that and protected Earth from the Deviants. But they have made a mistake. They missed some - the mutants. Their X-gene came from the Deviants. They are human but Deviant, so they fall under the Eternals’ watchful purview. They have escaped the great Machine that is Earth and have colonized Mars. Worse: they have escaped the chains of death itself. Their deviation will go on forever! This is excess deviation and must be corrected! He asks for the approval of the Uni-mind. Let him bring force and death to those it is their Eternal duty to correct.

The majority decide for him.

A little later in the Exclusion, most specifically the cell of Uranos the Undying. Druig informs his grandfather of the session mocking his own melodrama. He sounded just like him. He didn’t, Uranos opines, unimpressed. Druig is the equivalent of a human child wearing its parent’s shoes. This role is too big for him. Perhaps, Druig shrugs, but he doesn’t really care. An external foe will unite the Eternals. This is just an opportunity for him… and one for Uranos. For the first time in hundreds of thousands of years, they are going to let him out. Remember: this is a test. He has one hour. The Machine has coded him to return instantly. Uranos smiles as he muses that his own people have forgotten him. These mutants made Mars habitable in a day but to destroy is always easier. A human takes nine months to make another. A human can crush a windpipe in seconds. They will see what Uranos the Undying can do in an hour…

A little later at the Damocles Foundation HQ, Los Angeles:
Druig admits he is sure he made a mistake. Thanos met Uranos when he was on Earth. Called him “granddad” affectionally. He is a monster and Druig’s leash is uncertain, but he needs him for his plan to slap the mutants on the wrist, so here they are. Of course, her information is appreciated, he assures the other person. He is surprised she would betray her old friends so completely. Moira MacTaggert replies she may not be a million years old but she has lived long enough to see friends turn to enemies and vice versa. Now she is with Orchis. And Orchis wants to help all causes that align with their interests. Pro-human. Anti-mutant. Druig mildly points out that strictly speaking the Eternals’ position is human-agnostic and anti-Deviant. So anti-mutant, Moira doubles down. Potayto -potahto, Druig shrugs. He gets Orchis’ position, but tell him about her.

Moira replies that Krakoa was a utopia she founded. She gave them everything. And then they cast her out. Destiny told Mystique that, if the mutants failed to bring her back, she should burn it all down. Moira should have made it clear that the inverse was also true. Taking a donut, Druig enthuses that he likes grudges. Let them wage war…

On the beach of Krakoa, Wolverine asks Egg why he doesn’t join them for volleyball? He has work to do, the member of the Five replies.

In the meantime, the Quiet Council is meeting to discuss Destiny’s vision. Xavier announces they know of no grudge the Eternals hold against them. They are prepared against Orchis, not this. Exodus points out that Sinister’s absence is suspicious and suggests purging him from the Council.

The next moment, they are under psychic attack.

Druig explains to Moira that the Eternals are a psychic species, but the mutants have some of the greatest minds on the planet. The Eternals can’t face them individually, but then they don’t have to. Half their committed force combined in the Uni-mind are attacking psychically. The telepaths on the Quiet Council will defend themselves and protect their peers.

Psychic warfare above the island, invisible to the world, Druig summarizes. All they need is the mutants distracted and leaderless. A delay. Confusion.

Moira warns him the mutans aren’t just the Council - they need more to create confusion. She did say something about burning, Druig reminds her. Another group of Eternals outfitted with attack armor from their earliest days is attacking the island physically.

On Krakoa, Wolverine shouts to sound the damn alarm. The X-Men in New York teleport in and quickly join the battle, led by Cyclops.

Moira remarks the X-Men turning up is less than ideal. Druig points out they have their own transport via that Magik person, so it wasn’t worth it to deploy their stealth resources to dispatch the gates in New York.

Moira muses that a handful of X-Men aren’t the problem. Krakoa has a population of 200,000 mutants with mostly weak powers. On Mars, there are over a million Arakki from a war-torn existence, hardened by centuries of siege. And there are the gates from Mars to Krakoa. Druig smirks as he disagrees: one, they aren’t mutants, but Deviant. Two, there will be a lot less than a million by now…

Nightcrawler teleports to the Great Ring and tells them to get out.

Druig continues that the key factor is the nature of their immortality. They are not like Eternals, who will be reborn as long as planet Earth exists. Mutant immortality comes from five mutants working together: Hope and her friends. Time to break up the band. Without that mutant circuit, Krakoa falls.

On Krakoa Wolverine races toward Egg to find him murdered. He runs to the Quiet Council, whose members are locked in telepathic stupor… and stops the Eternal assassin Jack of Knives’ blades just in time before they kill Hope. Jack admits he is good. How did he find them? Wolverine retorts that he didn’t smell them but Egg’s blood on their blades. Jack throws several burning blades at Wolverine, who covers Hope. Well played, they admit and promise to be seeing him.

Wolverine shouts for Jean Grey to come over here. Their enemies know about Hope and the Five! Jean telepathically gives orders to secure the Five. The Attackers are driven away.

Druig sulks that Jack of Knives failed. At least he won’t have to pay their murder bonus, he cheers himself up. Moira bristles that he blew it. He chides her to be patient. Eternals are eternal - they win by erosion. It’s not like his plans only consisted of this afternoon…

Arbor Magna:
Since Egg had made some spare eggs, the first things the others do is resurrect him. What happened? he asks. Hope tells him they went after her people. The *&%$ are going to pay!

Wolverine suggests to Jean they get Beast, Brand and Cable on this. These people know how to hurt them. That moment, Jean hears a psychic scream from Mars. A moment later, an exhausted and horrified Nightcrawler teleports in from Arakko. It’s hell! he shouts. Bring them back! He barely made that gate before it went. Bring them back! Arakko needs leadership! Hope asks what about her dad Cable.

The Five act as one and resurrect Cable. He asks what happened. As Hope hugs him, Kurt and Jean look away. What happened?! he shouts.

The Exclusion:
How was his hour? Druig smirks as Uranos the Undying is teleported back into his cell. Uranos summarizes that the gates to Earth are destroyed. Much of the power structure is destabilized. He left a little of his arsenal to distract whoever’s left. They won’t interfere directly.

Druig tells him he is very good in every way but, literally, he knew he could rely on him. Uranos smirks, deducting that Druig’s other plan failed. He is going to have to let him out again, Uranos predicts. Losing his smile, Druig quickly replies that it’s not that bad yet. He has Uranos’ armory, so the Hex can be deployed. That first… before sending him again. He walks away grimly as Uranos calls after him to let him out. It will save time. He promises to leave a hemisphere undestroyed.

Avengers Mountain:
Sersi explains Druig is a lickspittle and will do anything to secure his power. Iron Man informs the others there has been an attack on Krakoa, then interrupts he is getting those energy spikes again… on the western seaboard… and a message.

The message is from Druig, addressing all humans. He announces that the mutants have overreached and are a threat to all. The Eternals apologize for letting them get so far. But rest assured they will protect humanity as they have done for a million years.

Human protesters everywhere rejoice as they hear Druig’s message.

Druig continues asking them not to be afraid of the towering death machines that have appeared off the northern seaboard of the USA. They are not towering death machines. They are the Hex and they are Eternals. Yes, they are not all human-sized but rest assured, no matter the size, they are humanity’s protectors. That said, he would advise anyone in the coastal regions to head inland. It’s possible this may get messy…

Avengers Mountain:
Captain America calls the team together, Captain Marvel, Thor, Starbrand, Nighthawk, Echo (the current Phoenix) and the Submariner. Captain Marvel is skeptical about keeping Sersi locked up. Cap explains that there is something Sersi hasn’t told them. She and her friends have left the Eternals, but she won’t say why.

Iron Man interrupts, telling him he’s got some intrusion signals. After the last time the Eternals snuck in, he set up some precautions.

He flies to another part of their HQ in the body of a dead Celestial and announces using the same way to sneak in is a bit of an insult. He is kind of a genius.

The intruders are Ajak, Makkari and a tied up and gagged Mr. Sinister. Ajak apologizes; they meant no disrespect. She would have changed her method, but the genocidal war of their peers made them act with haste. She introduces herself and Makkari and refers to Sinister as an annoying mutant with useful talents, whom they have gagged. She continues: She sees two ways. The Eternals cannot be defeated as long as the world exists. They will keep coming. Eventually, all that lives will be rendered nothing but dust. Not a fan of that, Iron Man announces. Option B?

Ajak explains that this is a holy war born of holy scripture. A god can rewrite the scripture and end the war. She asks him to help them build their god. That plan is pure hubris, he announces. Opening his faceplate, Stark continues that, speaking broadly, he is pro-hubris. But how on Earth do they think they can make a god in a few hours? Ajak tells him to look around. They have everything they need…

Who is the hero? They will find out.

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Havok, Jean Grey, Magik (X-Men)
Destiny, Emma Frost, Exodus, Mr. Sinister, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Sebastian Shaw, Storm (Queit Council)
Egg, Elixir, Hope Summers, Proteus, Tempus (The Five)
Cypher, Wolverine, Warlock

Captain America, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Namor, Nighthawk, Thor (Avengers)

Ajak, Makkari, Thena (renegade Eternals)

Druig, Uranos the Undying (Eternals)
Phebe Reginax, Rheaka Centaurus, Syne the Memotaur, Tetytrona, Themex,Thieaka the Harpsicus (Hex)
Dr. Moira MacTaggert (Orchis)

Jada (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

The story is continued from A.X.E.: Eve of Judgment.

The story is continued in Judgment Day #2

Immortal X-Men #5 shows more about the attack on the Quiet Council.

X-Men: Red (2nd series) #5 shows Uranos’ hour on Arakko.

Sersi’s group of Eternals snuck into Avengers mountain in Eternals (5th series) #10-11.

How Thanos became Prime Eternal and how they got rid of him is one of the main plotlines of Eternals (5th series).

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