A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4

Issue Date: 
November 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: 

Sersi has freed Starfox and plans for him to unite the people of Earth through his emotion control powers, thus faking a better humanity. Starfox demurs, feeling that would fail them all. He stresses that they need to effect genuine change. While the Progenitor judges people all around the world, Starfox travels the globe, speaking to heads of states and other important people, making deals. However, as Shaw points out, he cannot really speak for the Eternals. To change that, Sersi lays a trap for Prime Eternal Druig. Claiming to be a loyalist, she urges him to call the Uni-mind and use it as a weapon against Krakoa. Druig does so but falls into a trap. With Gilgamesh and Ikaris dismantling the firewalls of the Uni-Mind, the mutant telepaths hijack it and force a vote on the position of Prime Eternal with Starfox as their candidate. As the mutants start gaining traction, Druig, as his last act, releases Uranos to help him. However, Uranos has better things to do than save his failure of a grandson, namely calling down his weaponry on Earth, as he believes nobody but the Eternals should survive. Magneto and Storm join Tony Stark, who helps them get to Uranos. While the fatally injured Magneto takes him out with his last power, Stark hacks into Uranos’ armories and turns them again him. With Uranos beaten, Magneto is judged positively by the Progenitor and dies. With time up, Starfox, the new Prime Eternal, announces their plans for peace and prosperity for the world to the Progenitor. They just need more time to implement them. Unimpressed, the Progenitor fails the whole world and begins its destruction.

Full Summary: 

People are rioting and panicking as the Progenitor watches and tests them. In New York, Captain America stands in front of the X-Men’s treehouse and tries to calm a rioting crowd. He already failed his test and prays others do not do likewise. So, he tries to stop people from bludgeoning each other to death. He promises they are going to survive this, trying to not let any doubt show on his face.

The Progenitor observes Captain America fight on. He needs the world to be a fundamentally good place. They will see the world may think differently. Several rioters try to tear Cap down.

Avengers Mountain, the North Pole:
Sersi has brought the freed Eros aka Starfox with her and explains her plan to the others. Eros is an emotional manipulator who has been desperately underperforming. His parents made him to be the equal and opposite of Thanos. He can connect to the Machine. They broadcast love and peace to the world. They come together in an Age of Aquarius and fake being better for just long enough to pass the test.

To her surprise, Eros refuses. If he uses his abilities like this, he will fail the test. They all will. If they can’t pass this test, they deserve to fail. If they don’t believe love can win, what’s the point? Sersi snaps back that this is not a game. The stakes are too high. He needs to take this seriously! Eros replies that he is. When he was killed and trapped in the Exclusion, he had time to think. Time to watch. He’s got ideas. And they are wasting time.

The Progenitor silently watches and agrees. He watches all over the world.

On his way home, angry at the world, Tom passes two other angry men, who beat him up because they think he looks Eastern-European. Tom spits out a tooth and fails to see the irony. He fails.

As mayor of New York, Luke Cage is talking to the press. Posing as a journalist, the Progenitor asks him how he judges his performance. Luke tells him to ask him tomorrow, before he returns to the streets. This is not an option. He fails by default.

Thor fights the Themex (one of the Hex) in orbit. The Progenitor reads the inscription on his hammer and ascertains a truth: by definition, Thor must be worthy. He passes.

Eros meets with Sebastian Shaw of the mutants and talks philosophy, and single malts and hard-nosed business. And he listens.

The Progenitor appears before Kamala Khan as Captain Marvel, offering her and her family a chance to leave the planet, escape and join the secret higher league of heroes. She pummels him and demands what he did with the real Carol. She passes.

Katrina leaves her hotel room on the way to a rally. She is fifty meters down the corridor when she realizes she forgot a tip. She looks at the distance back, knows she is late and carries on. He appears to her in the form of her dead aunt, thumb down. She is horrified. Charles Xavier fights Eternals in psychic battles. The Progenitor pretends to be his son Legion and sends a message that he needs to talk. Xavier replies later, he is busy, and returns to work. He doesn’t even notice that he fails.

The Progenitor appears at the foot of the bed Komali shared with Arjun and watches her weep. He leaves fearing she would judge him.

Eros meets with heads of state, among them the Black Panther. He talks about whatever they wish to talk about. And he listens.

The Progenitor tests the Starbrand by having her fight a Dungeon Lord. She passes.

After watching Captain America speak, Daniela leaves her jobs and returns to her mother. She passes.

The Progenitor appears to Dr. Doom and gives him a simple challenge: Say that Reed Richards is smarter than him and he will pass. Doom laughs, turns and leaves. He passes himself. The Progenitor concurs.

Jada watches Captain America speak. She hears the crowd chanting “Death to the mutants” and knows in her heart that they are really chanting: “death to ourselves.” She despairs. She understands. She passes.

The Progenitor considers Daredevil, a man with a moral code which he has violated time and time over. The Progenitor appears to him with a crown of thorns and a down-turned thumb. Beneath his mask he weeps, says “I know,” yet carries on.

Eros is in in the rose garden of the White House, smelling the flowers. He listens. He empathizes. It is the other half of his powers. He finds common ground. He has already judged himself a failure and fights to make it not so. The Progenitor is interested to see whether it is too late.

Miles Morales is in a battle. He turns around to see the Progenitor as Peter Parker, who gives him a thumbs up. He gives him one back.

Kenta is still not doing his homework and is gaming instead. The Progenitor withholds judgment. Kenta is too young. It is no monster. Let them hope for Kenta’s sake that the adults secure a future for him.

Eros speaks at the United Nations. If they remember him from his Avengers days, they’ll know he is a hedonist. He wants them to think about hedonism in a different way. Hedonism is about loving life, whatever that means to you. They will survive because they love life. They have a choice today: They can choose life over death. They’ve seen the plans they have pulled together. Making a better world isn’t easy but they have to start somewhere. Mutants offered some technology before. Now they offer more. And that’s not all of it. They’ve seen Eternals technology at its worst. Imagine it at its best! If they agree to this package of human rights and environmental concerns, they can have access to certain Celestial tech… the Eternals will help them build a paradise. A world where all can love life as it deserves to be loved.

He leaves the stage to applause hard enough to make hands bleed. They are all desperate to believe.

Backstage, Sebastian Shaw is waiting for him and commends him for doing good work against a hard time limit. He thinks this may work. The plan will piss a lot of people off, but there is a lot of Celestial carrot. However, he has to wonder, does Eros really speak for the Eternals?

Meeting back with Stark, Sersi, Ajak, Makkari and Mr. Sinister, Eros unhappily agrees. They have to do something about his dear cousin, Druig. He’s ruining the “let’s get together and love one another” vibe. Stark hates to be the American on the team, but can’t they just beat him up? He has a very punchable face. Sersi warns that it’s not so easy. All outsiders are banned from the Eternals’ cities and passageways. Their friendly Eternals would have to sabotage certain key circuits in the Great Machine to change that. Ajak interjects their best hope is to finish communing with the Celestial. This is all a test. Even the tests are a test! Sinister interrupts that is a Panglossian perspective. If they don’t do something, everything will go from awful to awfuller to awfullest!

Now he’s agreeing with the supervillain, Stark opines. If Ajak wants convincing, here is footage from Mars, he means Arakko. He shows footage of how Uranos and his armory rampaged on Arakko, culminating in Uranos’ tearing out Magneto’s heart. He is like the nuclear deterrent could pick a fight with you. What’s to stop Uranos from doing that on Earth?

Nothing whatsoever, Eros replies. Druig just isn’t desperate enough yet. He will be, Sersi predicts. Druig is paranoid, and rightly so. The Uni-mind selected him as a compromise candidate. Mos of the Eternals have no real loyalty and are just following the Principles. Their best hope is that he makes a mistake they can use before he makes a mistake that none of them will survive!

In the Exclusion in front of Uranos’ cell, Druig rants that, if they had more than one day, they’d wear them down. It has yet to turn up to judge him. It’s waiting to see what he does, yes? A final play… but what? He has had loyalists suggest ideas… messages saying they are worried his rule will fail. He should unleash the Uni-mind once more. The mutants are weaker now, they are mortal and they tire. Bring everyone into the Uni-mind including the Hex.

Uranos observes, then he could unleash one of the Uni-mind’s war forms. It has merit. The Uni-mind is the most fundamental of their people’s weapons, but as an alternative? Uranos grins. He is still here waiting. Druig refuses.

Druig calls all Eternals and a more formidable Uni-mind attacks Krakoa. But Sinister has brought some friends to Krakoa, namely Sersi, Thena, Kingo, Phastos and Eros. They merge with the Uni-mind.

Inside, Druig welcomes them asking if doomsday has addled their brains. Do they mean to make it easier for him to scrub their brains? Or have they finally seen sense and joined the winners? He is willing to forgive and forget. Forget by mindwiping them but, still, come aboard. Join them!

Sersi asks if he really thought he had loyalists. It was them messaging him to form the Uni-mind. After all, it is not just a weapon. It’s also their democracy. They call for a vote on Prime Eternal.

Druig scoffs that they can’t win; he still has the numbers. Sersi contacts Ikaris and Gilgamesh, who are deep inside the Machine, disabling the Uni-mind’s firewalls. Once that happens, all mutant telepaths enter the Uni-mind. Led by Jean Grey, they vote for Eros.

Druig realizes he is going to lose. Telepathically, Uranos tells him there is only one way to win - Uranos is one of the patriarchs of the Eternals. If he is in the Uni-mind, he controls the votes of his line. His psychic power is enough to tilt the scales, even against these mutants. He urges his grandson to unleash him. They can win together. Druig desperately scrambles for some fail-safes. But as Uranos brutally reminds him, there is no “safe” for him. Uranos is his only chance.

Druig gives the order to release him, then pleads for his help. But, free once more, Uranos informs him he would only help, if Druig weren’t such a crushing failure. He now walks into Olympia, announcing Druig released the master of the world, and he can finally sweep away the dust…

The others are unaware of what has transpired. The mutants win, Druig is expelled from the Uni-mind and Eros is Prime Eternal.

Exodus takes the chance to beat up Druig. But then teleportation portals open in the air and, from the armories in the heart of the Earth, Uranos releases hellish weapons all over the world. And Druig admits he may have made a mistake.

The Eternals find that Uranos has sealed the Machine. They cannot get in and Ikaris and Gilgamesh cannot get out. Nightcrawler asks if they can fight him, but Sersi realistically fears that there is not a force on Earth that can touch him.

In the meantime, back-up from Mars / Arakko – namely Magneto and Storm – has arrived. Tony Stark explains to them they cannot use the portals which are spewing weaponry but they can use the one he opened here. They have left traces in time and space. He thinks he can force them open and get straight to him. He’s going to need an electromagnetic charge like they won’t believe, but he thinks they can handle that.

The doorway opens and Storm and Magneto take a step between worlds.

Mildly interested, Uranos asks Magneto, isn’t he dead yet. His foes always thought him heartless, Magneto retorts. Uranos merely made that literal.

Powered by Storm, Magneto attacks keeping him busy for the minutes needed for Stark to hack into Uranos’ portals. Magneto takes control and has Uranos’ own weapons take him out.

With that done, Magneto sinks down, dying, not calling out for Xavier to save him as the Progenitor expects. A crying Storm cradles him. The Progenitor appears to him as his lost daughter Anya, smiling and waving approvingly. And Magneto smiles.

The Progenitor thinks, if all men were like him, there would be no need for men like him.

He then witnesses Ikaris and Sersi talking, while Sersi is doing some healing work. Ikaris informs her Uranos is back to his cell, telekinetically repairing himself. The mutants wanted to kill him, but Ikaris promised them it wouldn’t help. He’d return and there’d be… side effects. He whispers, best not another human die if they can help it. Still… he understands their rage. They owe these mutants much. Sersi agrees. The Progenitor appears to them. He passes Ikaris and fails Sersi.

Stark is shocked. Sersi made the plan that saved everyone and he gave her thumbs down? What has she done? Who can tell with those enigmatic cosmic beings? she replies breezily. Perhaps he preferred her when she wore green. Luckily, it’s not just about her. Let’s hope he sees the bigger picture.

Ajak instructs new Prime Eternal Eros to speak to the Progenitor from the heart. It will hear him. Eros addresses the Celestial. He is like everybody else. He spent years wasting his potential until the Progenitor woke them all up. They’ve had a day to try and justify themselves. “Try” is the word. There are still problems. People are still fighting, disagreeing over what “right” means. But look at what they’ve done. Peace and plans for a better future for everyone. The mutants made the red planet habitable in a day from nothing… but it is harder to repair. They can make this world a heaven, but they need more than a day to do it. It is not too late, unless he makes it too late. It’s all in his hand. With a smile, Eros proffers his hand.

Hope turns to horror, as the Progenitor turns his thumb down. He decides that even if they had a million years, it wouldn’t be enough. They will always be better tomorrow.

Fire rains from the sky. And in Manhattan, Captain America is horrified as he watches the people around him die.

Characters Involved: 

Exodus, Mr. Sinister, Nightcrawler, Sebastian Shaw (Quiet Council)
Magneto, Storm (Brotherhood of Arakko)
Jean Grey, Magik (X-Men)
Ajak, Gilgamesh, Ikaris, Kingo Sunen, Makkari, Phastos, Sersi, Sprite, Thena (renegade Eternals)

Jack of Knives
Captain America, Iron Man (Avengers)

Druig, Uranos

Harry Leland
Daniela, Jada, Katrina, Kenta, Komali, Tom

Story Notes: 

Starfox was killed by Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy (5th series) #6.

Starfox meets with Shaw in immortal X-Men #6.

Uranos’ attack on Arakko and its aftermath occurred in X-Men Red (2nd series) #5-6.

Patriarchs: Three former rulers of the Eternals  - Uranos, Kronos and Okeanos - who also controlled the votes of their descendants

WeIt is unclear where the rest of the team that Storm and Magneto had gathered to fight Uranos at the end of X-Men red (2nd series) #6 is.

PASSED: Ms Marvel, Thor, Starbrand, Daniela, Dr Doom, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Ikaris

FAILED: Luke Cage, Tom, Katrina, Xavier, Daredevil, Sersi

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