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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
The Progenitor has judged Earth a failure and now begins its destruction. Nightcrawler gets Captain America, who is in Manhattan, and takes him to the North Pole to give the Progenitor a piece of his mind. The Celestial kills Cap but the telepathically transmitted speech has fulfilled its purpose. Humanity’s anger is directed at the Progenitor. Mutants, Eternals and Avengers cobble together a plan to attack in concert and try to hit the Progenitor’s vulnerable node. The Eternals will open their minds to mutant telepaths to allow them to attack their god. It is a good plan but it fails, leaving many heroes dead. In the meantime, the Progenitor destroys Krakoa, unaware that most of the mutants evacuated beforehand. It turns to control the Machine that is Earth to complete its destruction, but the Machine fights back. In the meantime, the heroes have developed a new plan for a small group to enter the Celestial’s body and take it out from the inside. The eternal master thief Jack of Knives gets them near the Celestial and then gives their life to distract the Progenitor while the group infiltrates its body. In the meantime, the Krakoans break a taboo by resurrecting the non-mutant Captain America.
The Progenitor has just passed its judgment on Earth. They have failed. Now only the sentence must be fulfilled.
At the North Pole, the Progenitor speaks to the world and orders it to end.
Tom hears the sky burn. He turns to his family and, full of self-pity, asks what did he do to deserve this? His son decides it’s time to tell him who he is. Tom had no idea.
Katrina thinks of her own judgment. What did she do? She decides it’s a narcissistic dead end and it doesn’t matter what she did. It matters what she does. She heads to the burning streets and tries to help.
Komali looks outside and waits.
Daniela spends the time she still has with her mother.
In Manhattan, Jada looks at a man in a flag at a field of bones. She was right and he was wrong. She wishes so very badly that she had been wrong.
Kenta has realized this is real and is scared. For that, the Progenitor is sorry. The adults built a world for him to live in. They built a world for him to die in, too.
Jada walks up to Captain America, who sits there dejectedly and hands him one of her two coffees. She’s sorry, she tells him. So is he. All his life he thought that he could inspire people to make a difference. That this world could be better. He thought they could pass. He really did.
Jada replies that she knew they would fail, but she appreciates that he tried. They both introduce themselves and drink the coffee as the skies burn. Cap asks if she has any family. She should be with them. She explains she lost her daughter. She’s been distanced from everyone since. It’s hard. She’s angry with them just for existing. He suggests she could still go. Maybe it’s not too late.
Jada points out he is still trying to inspire; he can’t help himself. It is a bad habit, he admits. Jada corrects him, it is a good habit in a bad world. And the idea that maybe it is not a bad world… and if it is, maybe it doesn’t have to be? On a bad day, in this bad world, that’s about all that gets her up.
Suddenly, Nightcrawler appears in the tree above them. He tells Cap he’s saving the world that hates, fears and now judges him. He thinks everyone should see Cap give this false god a piece of his mind. Interested?
Cap agrees and thanks Jada. He gives Nightcrawler his hand and asks if he can teleport them all the way to the North pole. After the day he had? Kurt asks mockingly. The strain could kill him. Does he think he is some kind of superhero?
Several jumps later, they are at the North pole. Kurt explains the professor is linking this to everyone.
The Progenitor wonders why the mutant psychics are allowing everyone in the world to see this. It just shows how doomed they are.
Captain America stands before him. He has faced up to tyrants before. They were all as sure as the Progenitor. Back in 1940, people thought the war over. Heroism isn’t about strength, it’s about not giving in. It’s not over as long as any of them are still standing. The world can hear him. They are all Avengers now! Assemble and Avenge!
The Progenitor kills him and Nightcrawler with a blast.
Nightcrawler awakes from resurrection. He asks Jean Grey how it went. She scans the world. Just what the world needed. There is a bit more calm… and the anger is directed. Get him another egg, Nightcrawler orders the Five. He’ll likely be back shortly. Wolverine asks if he is okay. Absolutely not, Nightcrawler grins. This parody of a god wants to cast them into the fires. He rejects it. He rejects this. But if they have hours to live, they are going to live them. They are going to love and live and fight. If the Spark is about anything, it’s about raging against the dying of the light. The Spark will burn, he promises.
The Quiet Council meets alongside several X-Men, Iron Man, Starfox and Sersi. Xavier announces they have had messages of support and commitment from many world leaders to their plan, but what is their plan? he asks the war captains.
Cyclops figures the best plan is to try again and hit the vulnerable node inside the Progenitor and evacuate the cities that could get caught in the fallout. Stark protests that was a trick from the creature. It is messing with them! Jean Grey corrects him that that weakness is real. That’s why they fell for it. It wasn’t a complete lie.
Okay, they got a target, Bishop muses. What can the Eternals bring to the party? Eros and Sersi explain that the problem is the Eternals cannot go against the First Principle “Protect Celestials.” They can be of no use in a direct attack on a Celestial. Then they are no use, full stop. Bishop announces. The Eternals continue that all their friends have turned off their psychic firewalls. It would be terrible if someone took them over and made them punch their god in the face.
That sounds fun, Magik announces and asks Destiny what their chances are. This is their only chance, the precog announces. With certain modifications.
So, the mutants, Eternals and heroes all attack a stargod. The ballistics distract it, allowing the Hex to get close, each one controlled by a Stepford Cuckoo and one by Emma Frost. Their attack leads to a counterattack, leaving the Progenitor open for a riposte. Patiently it waits, for the hammer is yet to come…
Earth mightiest – Captain Marvel, Phoenix, Starbrand, Ikaris, Exodus, Jean Grey and Namor, - strike as one to expose their target. They are followed by Thor.
The Progenitor is impressed, but it has already rendered its judgment. What god would it be if it vacillated? It burns Thor first. It figures, Thor may be worthy, but the world is not. It kills the other heroes that attacked, trying to use a different method with each. It kills the Hex and the backlash burns out the Stepford Cuckoos. It makes Cyclops vulnerable to his own optic blast, it kills Captain Marvel with cancer like her predecessor.
Iron Man gives the order to get the hell out of there.
The Progenitor thinks that it has been cruel to let them come so close to victory. But it is the god they made and it has much work to do.
The Progenitor begins burning cities and seas. A spaceship with billionaires tries to flee. It too is destroyed.
It destroys the Eternals’ cradle and it destroys Krakoa. And with all this done, it turns to the planet itself. It has ordered the world to end. The Machine that is Earth said no. The Progenitor will trash it into obedience.
Some of the survivors - Eros, Sersi, Phastos, Iron Man and Nightcrawler - are gathered in a building. Nightcrawler summarizes that Destiny was right. As long as they left certain people (such as Mystique, Destiny and Egg) on Krakoa, the Celestial presumed it got them all and they could evacuate the rest. But they only got a handful of eggs. They need to choose carefully.
They need to choose quickly, Phastos replies. The Progenitor is integrating with the Machine that is Earth. Even destroying the Resurrection Engines would be enough to make the world end eventually. This is just it trying to speed it up. It is efficient, he muses. It is the sort of thing he would do. It is his child after all. Stark admits it is ringing bells for him too. What the hell have they done?
It's not over yet, Kurt reminds them. They tried the big hammer approach (RIP, Thor). Now they try the scalpel.
They walk to the kitchen where the Five (sans Egg) are already resurrecting people. They need scientists and psychics and the rest… but they need to infiltrate. Kurt addresses Wolverine, who is just being resurrected and who admits that this is one thing he is not the best at. Jack of Knives is standing behind him, right? Jack drops their disguise and announces they are in, they’ve killed just about everything else. Let’s kill a god.
A little later, a small group is gathered, consisting of Jack of Knives, Sersi, Ajak, Makkari, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Mr. Sinister and Iron Man. Phastos explains to Jean he has granted her personalized firewall access, so she can control Ajak, Makkari and Sersi if the Principles start interfering with their actions. They are accessible to Jean alone. Spoilsport, Sinister mutters.
Any regrets? Wolverine asks Jack of Knives who admits to being sorry they nearly stabbed that resurrecting redheaded girl of theirs. Wolverine guesses a late apology is better than none, until Jack clarifies if they’d done the job right, the Eternals would have won the war and they wouldn’t be in this mess.
Jack activates their ghost field and teleports the group in close to the Progenitor. As they arrive, Jack curses. It knows they are here. They’ll be damned if their last mission is a failure, Jack decides. They order the group to get inside the Progenitor, while Jack will distract it. Really? Wolverine asks. Jack grins cockily. What did flag guy say? “Avenge me.” They like that. Stab it deep for them, he asks Wolverine. Jack calls out to the Celestial and gets blasted to atoms.
Jean sends that they are inside but they will have to fight every step of the way, so they need the others to buy them whatever time they can.
Back at the building:
The resurrected Exodus protests at what he considers heresy. They should return Cyclops instead. This is against all the rules of Krakoa, he protests. No, it’s against their customs, Nightcrawler corrects him. And customs are just rules that got too big for their boots. As long as they live, they try something new. That’s what they do. Cyclops is a great leader, but he is not who Earth needs right now.
The Five finish the resurrection process and a blue, white and red shield breaks through the egg, heralding Captain America’s rebirth.
Destiny, Exodus, Hope Summers II, Mr. Sinister, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Professor X, White Queen (Quiet Council)
Magneto, Storm (Brotherhood of Arakko)
Cyclops, Firestar, Jean Grey, Magik (X-Men)
Banshee, Bishop, Northstar, Psylocke II, Rogue, Wolverine
Egg, Elixir, Proteus, Tempus (The Five)
Ajak, Ikaris, Kingo Sunen, Makkari, Phastos, Sersi, Sprite, Thena (renegade Eternals)
Jack of Knives
Captain America, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Namor, Nighthawk, Starbrand, Thor (Avengers)
Spider-Man, Spider-Man II
Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing (Fantastic Four)
Phebe Reginax, Reaka Centaurus, Syne the Memotaur, Tetytrona, Themex, Thieaka Centaurus (Hex)
Daniela, Jada, Katrina, Kenta, Komali, Tom
The story continues in several issues: The adventures of the small group entering the Eternal are described in A:X:E- Avengers, A.X.E. – X-Men and A.X.E. -Eternals.
More about the battle to keep the world alive is shown in Immortal X-Men #7, A.X.E- Death to the Mutants #3 and A.X.E. – Starfox.