A.X.E.: Judgment Day #2

Issue Date: 
October 2022
Story Title: 

Kieron Gillen (writer), Valerio Schiti (artist), Dean White (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Mark Brooks (cover artist), 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: 

The Hex, giant war Eternals, are attacking Krakoa. The mutants find themselves short-handed but are joined by a team of Avengers. However, those Avenger cannot stay long, as their battle causes an earthquake in the Pacific and they are needed for evacuation elsewhere. Exodus manages to take out the Hex Syne by sacrificing himself momentarily. While Exodus is brought back by the Five, Syne is resurrected automatically by the Machine that is Earth, and a human dies to give her life. In the meantime, Ajak, Makkari Iron Man, Mr Sinsiter, Phastos and Sersi’s team of renegade Eternals are working on another solution, namely creating a new Celestial from the corpse of an old one who will stop the Eternals’ war. Using Stark’s nervous system as a road map, they finally succeed, just as Syne is attacking Krakoa again. The new Progenitor orders her to step down. The heroes are relieved, until the Progenitor tells all sentient being on Earth they have 24 hours to justify themselves. Afterwards, he will decide whether or not he will destroy Earth …

Full Summary: 

An unknown being watches six normal human beings from all over the world, as Druig’s declaration of war echoes across the world. There’s Tom, a middle-aged white guy who is brushing his teeth. Good for the Eternals, he figures and goes to bed.

In Vancouver, a young woman, Katrina, sits in a coffee shop and fires off a supportive tweet. She gets a lot of positive interaction. It will be an hour before the bigots come out. She wishes the tweets could be a shield above Krakoa. She knows they are not. But solidarity is a power, too.

Mumbai, the elderly Arjun has lived a long time, even before the age of marvels. He survived all kinds of disasters. He hears of the Hex and shrugs. The heroes will save them. They always do.

In Sao Paolo, Daniela, a girl in her late teens or early twenties is busy delivering food by bike. She doesn’t even stop. Disaster happening - bad. Getting a non-five-star rating would be even worse. However yesterday she was thinking it would be nice to be a mutant. Free everything, beaches, immortality. Today she is reminded of the downside. Still, she thinks, it was nice of the Eternals to tell them.

New York:
Jada had raised her child to respect mutants, that they were all on the same side. And now her child is dead, and it turns out the mutants were always on their own side. But genocide? No, never. She looks around and sees the celebrating crowd. These aren’t her people either, she decides.

In Yokohama, the parents of Kenta, a preteen boy, are worried about a tidal wave hitting them. Kenta doesn’t care. Later he changes his name to Hexblaster on his favorite shooter. He gets kicked off for insensitivity and laughs.

Six people. They are all important. Everyone is important.

Above Krakoa, six giant Eternals called the Hex are about to attack. Exodus and Jean Grey are in the sky to defend the island. “Avaunt, Eternal beast!” Exodus shouts. Jean sends that she doesn’t think it is going to listen. Exodus retorts that it is only right to issue a challenge before a duel. He is not a barbarian. En garde! he shouts as he attacks one Hex member with all his might.

Jean sends to her husband Cyclops that their resident religious nut powerhouse got one off the island. How is it going? Cyclops is in battle with another Hex member alongside other X-Men on the ground. He replies, badly. He should have written protocols for a skyscraper-sized centaur that generates its own attack fauna. Why does he always miss the obvious things? They need a hand!

That moment, the Avengers drop in on the island and Captain America asks how they can help.

Still battling in the sky, Exodus sends to tell the Avengers to leave. They do not need a people untouched by the grace of God! Interesting take, but the War Captains are in charge, is Jean’s diplomatic reply. She addresses one of them, Magik, who states, if the Avengers want to help kill those bastards, the more the merrier. Jean tells Exodus if he wants to assemble the Quiet Council and have a vote on this, he is welcome to, until then the Avengers are welcome on Krakoa.

Cyclops grabs Cap’s hand and welcomes them aboard. Things look bleak, he warns. Cap retorts that they have both seen bleaker. They’ll get through this. And the whole world will see them stand together. Plus, Iron Man’s working on a peaceful solution.

Avengers Mountain:
Iron Man is working together with Eternal priests Ajak and Makkari, as well as an imprisoned Mr. Sinister. Iron Man summarizes. The plan is they have hours to reanimate a space god and tell it to order his grumpy kids to quit it. He guesses he’d have to be some kind of super genius to pull this off. Reed is going to be as green as Bruce when they do this. Ajak replies she has plans, but they also need luck and a penitent who has transgressed against the Celestials and stolen knowledge from the gods.

Penance, Mr. Sinister repeats smirking. Now he understands why they have kidnapped him. He feels so responsible and guilty. Of course, he’ll help. It’s his planet too – literally, it is his planet and they are all cockroaches. Where shall they start? With a prayer to the underlying fundaments of reality, Ajak replies strictly. This is a holy task. Sinister scoffs in disgust.

Captain America asks Cyclops what the objectives are. Cyclops explains that most mutants are noncombatants. They get them to the defensive vaults. The Eternals are also trying to destroy their method of resurrection. If they take that down, they win. He asks the Avengers to stop the Hex and help get people to safety. The mutants will protect resurrection. On it, Cap promises, but still keeping secrets? After everything they’ve been through, he wishes the X-Men had told them. After everything, Cyclops replies, how could they?

In the sky, Captain Marvel, Echo, Thor, Storm, Starbrand, Banshee and other flyers are fighting a Hex that is intangible half of the time. Jean Grey alerts them that, with the help of Namor, they’ve immobilized the fiery minotaur at the bottom of the sea. It’s ready for a coup de grace. Captain Marvel and Starbrand do the job, attacking it just as Namor is about to spear the Hex with his trident. Angrily, he complains while Jean congratulates them for weakening its armor. However, the next moment she senses cries for help from the Philippines. Their actions have caused tidal waves and earthquakes. Thousands are going to die! Philippines, Papua, New Guinea. Tsunamis heading toward the east coast of the USA, Australia Japan!

Cyclops tells Cap to go help. If the Avengers deal with the fallout, that is one less problem for the mutants. Cap thanks him. They are heroes. One day the world will see that as well.

As the Avengers leave, Exodus telepathically tells the Council that it is good to have a reminder; they are abandoning them. Nightcrawler protests that is unfair. Destiny corrects him it is accurate. She sees the future and she remembers the past. They stand alone, they always did.

The unknown narrator wonders if that is true, then continues that elsewhere others strive to make him stand.

Near London:
Arishem the Judge, first of the Celestials, crashed here. Its thumb signature, the thumbprint of justice, is harvested by Iron Man.

In San Francisco once stood the Dreaming Celestial, promising a new age of Eternals. It was here that it was subverted by Sinister and finally detonated. Sinister has since abandoned Celestial science, considering it too unreliable, but he still knows enough to sift through the debris and find a shattered fragment of the heart of a dream.

Odin once planned for a war against the Celestials. The Destroyer was his weapon created to stand against the impossible power of the star gods. It failed utterly and was torn asunder long, long ago. It speaks to Odin’s gifs that it was not an easy task, even for them. Makkari harvests the tiny remaining fragment of that power.

Sersi is freed and gathers the Eternals who stand against Druig. Science smith Phastos starts assembling their new god. The rest explore the depths of Lemuria. The city of the Deviants has faced Celestial wrath more than any other. In the haunted abyss, they perform a séance and gather testimony from the slaughtered Deviants. It’s not just love that makes a Celestial heart beat. That’s why they know it is not just enough to make it live. They want a better god. They argue. They write scripture. The narrator muses they are entirely successful. It is a god in their image.

Tony Stark has been literally possessed by the Power Cosmic. He piloted a dead Celestial when a king wreathed in black ruled the Earth. His body still remembers. He will be a blueprint for its nervous system. Like Hank and Ultron, Tony says and laughs.

Elsewhere, the mutants have finally managed to breach the one Hex’s armor at the cost of several lives. Exodus can sense her thoughts now. She is called Syne. What is the other Hex doing? Jean senses they are all sisters. The other is called Phebe Reginax and she is healing her sister. Exodus smirks considering this good news. If they live, they can be killed and they can be sent to hell. Exodus flings himself into the breach in Syne’s armor with all his telekinetic energy. As he tears at Syne’s internal essence, there is a final moment in which he hears Syne’s voice, and she says: “Please don’t.” But then Eternal and mutant are both gone in a detonation.

On the shores of Krakoa, the mutants celebrate. One down, five to go, Nightcrawler observes. Hope, that’s what they need. Being entirely too literal, Cyclops assures him Hope is secure.

The Five resurrect the mutants who died in the battle, Exodus, Psylocke and the others. In the meantime, the Machine that is Earth revives Syne the Memotaur. Exodus is uploaded with his last backup. He doesn’t remember the last moment of communication. Syne does.

The narrator watches the six humans.
Tom watches the news about the battle on Krakoa. He turns to his wife and says, it is all the mutants’ fault. “We’re showing them.” His wife asks who died and made him an Eternal and he laughs.
Katrina is still tweeting.
Arjun falls to the street, dead before he hits the ground. His life force has been taken by the Machine to resurrect Syne the Memotaur. This is the Eternals’ secret. A life randomly taken to make them live again. Nobody else knows.

Daniela is working her third job as a waitress. She almost forgets the war until a tremor hits. She comforts the customers and hopes for a better tip. She does not linger on the cosmic apocalypse elsewhere. Who has time?

Jada sees people with newly painted anti-mutant signs heading to the protests. The mutants may have escaped death, but to see that and scream for more death? Jada doesn’t want equally shared misery for all but doesn’t know what she wants.

Kenta gets a blurred shot of Captain Marvel fighting a tidal wave with his phone. He doesn’t think of death or life. He just lives. And several beings of science and faith hope that he will too. Phastos’ part of the work is ready. Iron Man asks if they are sure about this. The Celestials have been kinda… testy. Ajak corrects him they have been genocidal monsters, cruel and distant, unknowable. Stark snarks that she is one of the Eternals who is bad at subtext, right? Ajak replies she refuses to make jokes at times like this. She is saying that she knows the most important part was the soul. They have made a god who is more like them. The scripture is key. Whatever the god is, it will be the word made flesh.

Sinister sulks he still doesn’t see why he couldn’t add some words in the margins. Can he at least press the on button? Ajak sternly tells him the first chapter of their story will not suffer his vile touch. Stark adds that now that he understands what Sinister did to the Dreaming Celestial, the bad blood is absolutely justified. What was he thinking? Sinister calls him a spoilsport. His dad was much more chill. Sorry, he means his adoptive dad. However, if they’ve finished the ever-popular game of monstering the mutant, can they move on? His people are dying. Boohoo etcetera, etcetera.

On Krakoa, the X-Men are still battling the Hex Eternals. Cyclops telepathically informs Jean Grey that the vaults are secured, plus the X-Men have infiltrated the Eternals’ armories and damaged the Hex’s weapon supplies. They should be running down soon. The big green one’s combat fauna is messing with them. The gates aren’t operational.

That moment, an Eternal Gate opens and the resurrected Syne returns to continue the work of bringing the island down. The mutants find they can’t move quickly enough to evacuate everybody. If they move to stop Syne, the other Hex are free to hit the Vaults or Arbor Magna. They don’t know what to do. Nightcrawler prays to God and a god answers. The Progenitor is brought online. The first thing he does is ordering Syne to cease. As the Principles demand, Syne replies and obeys. The Hex leave Krakoa.

Stark announces their plan worked. Ajak smiles. They have their god and their god is just. However, then the Progenitor addresses all people on Earth. He calls them bickering children. The planet is ruined. They have acted with unrelenting unkindness to each other. They leave him no option - this is their judgment day. They have twenty-four hours to justify themselves. They will be judged individually. They will be judged as a collective. If there is more that is just than wicked, they will live. But if they are found lacking, there will be no tomorrow…

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Destiny, Exodus, Mr. Sinister, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Storm (Quiet Council)
Beast, Bishop, Cyclops, Firestar, Jean Grey, Magik, Psylocke II, Wolverine, Wolverine II
Egg, Elixir, Hope Summers II, Proteus, Tempus (The Five)

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

Ajak, Makkari (eternal Priests)
Ikrais, Kingo Sunen, Phastos, Sprite, Sersi, Thena (renegade Eternals)

Druig (Prime Eternal)
Phebe Reginax, Rheaka Centaurus, Syne the Memotaur, Tetytrona, Themex, Thieaka the Harpiscus, (Hex)

Story Notes: 

Arishem crashed on London in Avengers (8th series) #1.

The Destroyer was originally created by Odin to fight the Celestials. Stark piloting a Celestial happened during the King in Black event.

More of the Eternals’ séance in Lemuria is shown in A.X.E. Death to the Mutants #1.

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