A.X.E.: Judgment Day #6

Issue Date: 
December 2022
Story Title: 

Kieron Gillen (writer), Valerio Schiti with Ivan Fiorelli (artists), Marte Gracia (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Mark Brooks (cover artist), 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 Eternals, under Starfox’s leadership, have evacuated the surviving humans to the Eternals’ cities. In the meantime, the Progenitor is making its way to the reality loom at the center of Earth to finish things. Eternals, heroes and humans try to stop it with weapons from Uranos’ armory. Elsewhere, inside the body of the Progenitor, the group of heroes have reached the brain, where a small representation of the Progenitor is steering the body. Jean Grey tries to attack it but is stopped by Ajak, who still wants to reason with her god. The Progenitor is disappointed: even though it gave the three Eternals freedom, they act as they always would. Sersi has a revelation and orders the Machine that is Earth to announce what she is saying. Sersi reveals the secret of Eternal resurrection to humanity – that each time an Eternal is resurrected, a human has to die. The humans are furious and wish her dead, so the Progenitor follows their wish and kills Sersi for good. Iron Man tells the Progenitor Sersi was right: if an Eternal can change, they all can. The Progenitor is unimpressed, still believing they deserve to die. Ajak points out that doesn’t mean the Progenitor deserves to kill them. Jean reaches out to it, warning of the ethical cost of destroying an entire world. The Progenitor begins to hesitate, pointing out that most people are already dead. Iron Man presses that it can return them. It should do what it can. Persuaded, the Progenitor restores everybody from the point when it started its judgment on Earth but not those who died before. Almost out of power, it asks Ajak if it was a good god and is told “no.” It tells her to be better and uses its remaining power to transform Ajak into a Celestial. Things are mostly as they were before; the Progenitor’s body is again the Avengers’ HQ. Sersi is still dead, though. The Eternals sign a treaty with the mutants and now have to live with being hated and feared by humanity. Under Jean’s leadership, the Five start the Phoenix Foundation, allocating five percent of resurrections to poor human children. Orchis too, however, have gained admirers for their work during it all.

Full Summary: 

Sitting in front of the X-Men’s treehouse in Manhattan, Jada watches the end of the world taking place. Suddenly a doorway opens in space and Captain America offers a hand, ordering her to get in here now. She obeys. Cap explains the Eternals have opened their transport nodes all over Earth to evacuate the surviving humans. They can use their cities as shelter until they win this. It isn’t over yet, he promises.

The Progenitor silently agrees and is frustrated.

Tom sees the strange portal opening outside in the street. He stays inside, distrusting. He makes his family stay as well. The fire gives him just long enough to realize he made a mistake.

Katrina sees the portal, then sees a burning building. She hears cries above the noise and makes a choice. After the fifth time, they beg her not to go back in. She doesn’t listen and she doesn’t make it out.

As the building shakes and start to fall, Komali thinks of Arjun. It is a comfort.

Daniela sees the portal and drags her mother with her inside. Jada walks though the Eternals’ city and sees a crying small boy - Kenta. Automatically, she tries to comfort him.

Prime Eternal Eros, who gave the order to open the portal, mingles with the crowds. He sees Nightcrawler, who stands before a screen. Must be nice to have a fan club, Kurt remarks. Eros promises they’ll love him soon enough. There is enough love for everyone. He is a hero! The Eternal cities are now life rafts for humanity.

He presumes delaying the Machine’s self-destruct is going equally well, because they are still alive. Nightcrawler replies Phastos’ resetting the Machine gave them time. His A.I… colleagues - he refers to Orchis - are at work cutting off every route through the Machine as the Progenitor tries to activate the self-destruct. They can keep the world intact for another twelve hours, hell, maybe a day. The infiltrators will have more time than they could have hoped for. Unless it changes tactics, remarks Captain America, who has joined them. It will change tactics, he predicts.

The Progenitor silently agrees. It has much of Tony Stark in it. Like him, it believes in efficiency. It should be able to simply make the Earth explode. It is designed as such. Instead, the reality loom that lies at the heart of the Machine that is Earth is kept out of its reach. And it does not hear its orders. But where an engineer likes to be efficient, a god need not be. It parts the ground making its way toward the reality loom.

In Olympia, Eros shouts, if it hits the reality loom, it’s all over. He admits he doesn’t know what to do. Nightcrawler sarcastically states this isn’t a situation they can hug out. They fight. Cap agrees. Every minute counts more than ever. Tony will need every second he can get to pull this off!

In the body of the Progenitor, Iron Man orders the group to hurry. God knows what Cap is doing to keep them alive. They are getting close to its core node. Good! Jean announces as she swats an antibody away. She needs this hypocrite to burn!

Mr. Sinister mock-whispers to Wolverine that Stark has become unbearable since he passed his test, and Jeannie has become unbearable since she failed. Why won’t the Celestial judge him? Wolverine warns him if he keeps talking, he will judge him right here.

Makkari signs at Ajak that something has changed. Ajak telepathically explains to her and Sersi that, when they passed the last chamber, their god temporarily shut off the Protocols and resealed their psychic firewalls. The mutants cannot control them - they are free to act however they wish. This is terribly bad timing to get what they always wanted, Sersi mocks.

Stark announces the core is in here. They see an empty chamber, within is a smaller version of the Progenitor controlling several globes that act as screens. Iron Man orders them to keep the antibodies from entering, while Makkari keeps Sinister from examining the Progenitor, who doesn’t seem to notice them, while they can see he is heading to the core of the planet, searching for the self-destruct.

Jean creates psychic claws, believing her psychic totality will blow this sky high. She hopes the Five can still bring them back. She is about to attack. Over Sersi’s protest, Ajak grabs her cudgel and hits Jean in the back.

With the Progenitor about to break through, Eros gives the order to arm everybody who is willing to fight. The people give their best but the Progenitor nevertheless walks the distance to the reality loom. Captain America blocks its way, telling it that it is not too late to surrender. This is his last warning. The Progenitor booms he cannot stop it. Nope, but he can distract it, Cap replies, as Syne the Memotaur channeling Exodus’ powers as well attacks. They are effective, actually halting the Progenitor. Cap shouts to keep hammering it. Every second counts!

Inside the Progenitor:
Jean orders Ajak to get out of her way. Ajak scoffs that death is meaningless to her. If they survive, the mutants will all be returned. They will inherit the earth. But “humanity” dies today. Iron Man admits she is right. If they end this, all the billions who died are still dead. Maybe they can’t save everyone, Jean admits. Maybe they can, Iron Man replies. They have to at least try. What is the other option? Ajak replies, convince it that its judgment is flawed. This is still a test.

The Progenitor silently wonders whether it is. It gathers more information with every moment, but the moments are running out. Syne falls, burned out by the mutant might channeled through her, so the Progenitor can return to its task. It is fascinated when Orchis now attack, Nimrod, Sentinels all their forces.

Inside the Progenitor:
Jean scoffs that they are down to hoping Orchis holds the line. Enough! Sinister! she orders telepathically and he shoots Ajak in the back. Jean gets ready to destroy the Progenitor. She doesn’t care about “maybe.” They have to save who they can, before they lose everybody.

When she tries to attack the Progenitor, it easily hits her back and traps her in a force field. Of course, it is a test, it announces, which they failed. It was questioning itself, but it has learned that they do deserve to die. They remain creatures solely guided by self-interest. The mutants would kill it, as they have less stakes. Some of their number would cheer as loudly as the humans cheered their deaths. Those who hate mutants stand with them only because there is no other choice and the Eternals, even when free, prove they cannot change!

Sersi swears then orders the Machine that is Earth to broadcast her. She addresses the humans of Earth and tells them of the cost of the Eternals’ immortality. Every time one of them dies, a human has to die to bring them back. They have used humans as fuel for a million years. They try to be angels, but they have a vampire’s heart. They do not choose to do this but they did choose not to tell humanity. She has lied and manipulated good-hearted people to keep this secret and she regrets that. She failed her test because she did so. She was a fool. She was wrong and must make amends. She shouldn’t have hidden from the judgment of humanity. By doing so, she enraged this beastly god. She should have accepted humanity’s judgment, not the Celestial’s.

Intrigued the Progenitor listens.

In Olympia, Captain America and Nightcrawler demand if this is true or a trick? Not a trick, which the best kind of trick, Eros replies. She’s telling the truth. Now, if they live, they live with it.

The Progenitor listens to humanity’s thoughts, wishing for Sersi to die. Eternals have never died. Just as Sersi triumphantly tells the Celestial they can change, it fulfils humanity’s wish and kills her. For good.

Tony Stark tells the Celestial Sersi was right. If Eternals can change, any of them can. The Progenitor replies that this proves nothing. It merely shows another way they deserve to die. Perhaps they do, a crying Ajak admits, but does it deserve to kill them? This is also a test for it. She wanted a better god. If it does this, it fails.

Outside, the Progenitor is getting closer and closer to its destination.

Inside, Sinister whispers to Jean that it has lost attention, as the forcefield around her dissolves. Stabby-stabby, quicky-quicky? he suggests. Jean turns away. She sees it now. The poor creature. She addresses the Progenitor: She killed plenty and it failed her for it. It said she could never come back from that. Whoever she was then, was out of control. The Progenitor is doing this with a cold heart. She touches its face. Once it is done, it is done, and it has to live with it. Can it?

It replies that it doesn’t matter if it stops. Less than a billion are alive. It is over. Iron Man doesn’t accept that. He stresses the similarities between the two of them. It is him in a messed-up way. If he gets out of his depth, he tries to make amends. What can it do? Do that! Don’t do this. The Progenitor replies doing so could destroy it. That’s the deal, isn’t it? Tony agrees. He does it every day, every late night. If somebody who is as messed up as him can be a hero, despite all his #&%/, it can be too. In this world this is what being a hero is all about.

The Progenitor recalls what it said before: What kind of god would it be if it vacillated? Perhaps not a god at all. But it is akin to a god in many other ways, as it begins to work. A god is omniscient - it remembers where everything was before it tore it apart. A god is omnipotent: It can put things back. If it were a god, its judgment would be flawless. As it restores things, giving its own lifepower, it considers that if it were omnipotent it would be without limits, which proves it is not a god. It can make mistakes. It must make amends. It puts things as they were before its judgment.

Weakened, it tells Ajak it has given up everything to save everyone. Ajak is its maker - is it a worthy god? Tears in her eyes, Ajak looks away and moves her thumb downwards. It is not! The Progenitor agrees and asks her to be better before giving what is left of its power to her.

The group of heroes finds itself outside at the North Pole. The Progenitor is again back to its dead state as the Avengers’ HQ. Tony announces he is getting signals from all over the world. They are back! Uranos’ damage is still there, the scars from the Eternals’ war with the mutants as well. But billions are breathing again. The damage the Progenitor wrought is gone!

Mr. Sinister sulks aloud that the bastard didn’t even speak to him. Wolverine sits down in the snow, announcing he needs a drink. Tony is torn between wishing he could join him and not.

Makkari, the only Eternal present, angrily gestures at Jean, demanding where Ajak and Sersi are.

A transformed Ajak appears in the sky and explains the Progenitor removed its own judgment, not humanity’s. They wished Sersi dead, so she is. She is a martyr for their new church. She brought a chance of redemption for their fallen people. Ajak is now Ajak-Celestia. She tells Makkari she is their new god and will strive to be worthy of them if they strive to be worthy of her.

The Progenitor is dead but its power is such that it still considers things as it did before it was created.

It again watches the humans.

Tom and his family live again. He remembers what his son said. Tom tries to find the right words. He is not very good at it. Still, a step.

Katrina is greeted in the streets with cheers. They remember what she did when all was lost. She died for them. She feels more than a little smug. Forward is only one direction in which a step can be made. It hopes small steps do no erode the large.

Komali feels alone in her mourning, then Syne appears, apologizes for stealing her husband’s life and departs. Komali imagines Arjun laughing at the absurdity. She smiles, then she cries. Grief is more than five steps. There is comfort in knowing Arjun will be with her for them.

Daniela is back at her jobs. When she gets a message from her ,mom she replies more quickly than she would have in the past. A step need not sacrifice your existence to make the world a better place.

Jada decides to stay in bed the day after Judgment Day. She gets a message that surprises her. Today, she decides the step out of bed is enough.

Kenta tells stories to his parents about the strange place he went and the cool people he met. They have not told him they were dead. It is a comfort to know there are people who would look after their child if they were gone.

People can be good. That’s a good thing to learn, even if it is not an easy thing to be.

At the United Nations:
Eros nudges Zuras to just do it. If he wants to be Prime Eternal again, he also needs to do the statesmanlike stuff. Zuras harumphes but then kneels down in front of Storm and Nightcrawler. Speaking for his people, he apologizes for the war and the atrocities committed. The Eternals offer a treaty of alliance and offer the people of Arakko the weapon that was used against them: Uranos for an hour to do with as they will.

With the ceremony over, Eros explains to the mutants now they know why they cannot kill Uranos, and only they can keep him locked up.

What about Druig? Storm asks. The Arakki have left the bones of their dead to lie until he buries every single one himself. That would be fitting, Zura considers, perhaps later, after his Eternal punishment.

Said punishment consists of Druig being locked up. In Uranos’ cell.

Uranos announces he saw what he can do with an hour. Let’s see what he can do with the next thousand years or so…

Back at the United Nations:
What about the Principles? Storm asks. How do they know the Eternals won’t go to war again? Zuras replies he has a more… conservative interpretation of the Principles. Mutants share some DNA with Deviants? It is of little matter. Until a mutant triggers their physiological excess deviation response, they are not deviant in any way that counts. They are just human. Mutant, Storm corrects. Unimpressed, Zuras teleports away without another word.

Eros promises to teach him to be more diplomatic. They step outside where, for a change, anti-Eternals protesters are raging. Eros is somewhat helpless, as objects are thrown at them. He isn’t used to being hated or feared. And still they have to fulfill their duty. Nightcrawler shrugs. He’ll get used to it. Eros agrees. And the Eternals can’t even share their immortality, but this war happened because of those who are jealous of mutants’ immortality. Are they going to go ahead with their plan? Absolutely, Storm and Kurt assure him. Jean loved the idea. She even had the perfect name…

Elsewhere, Jean explains, they cannot back up eight billion people. And it is still going to take a decade to return all the dead from mutant genocides. They have to bring back their own people. However, they also recognize they are a fortunate nation and as such have the duty to aid those who are not. In the spirit of foreign aid, she will personally scan those who are selected for back-up and recovery. The Phoenix Foundation is a body separate from Krakoa who will be selecting those who receive the gift. This will prioritize the vulnerable, the weak and those whom the world has abandoned.

Jean and Scott are back at the treehouse. Five percent of the Five’s work, Jean summarizes. She hopes it is enough. Scott looking outside tells her, it’s good. As Shaw said: who can object to sick kids being prioritized? This is a win for the X-Men. He just wishes it wasn’t a win for Orchis too…

Walking past the treehouse are people with Orchis merch.

At the North pole, the Avengers are back to using the corpse of the Progenitor as their HQ. Iron Man considers it bad PR and weird to still be living in it. Thor on the other hand thinks it shows they have defeated it. It is a trophy. Starbrand agrees and suggests everyone getting matching tattoos. Nighthawk tells her no and Captain Marvel sighs if she got a tattoo every time she dealt with a cosmic threat, she’d look like she was playing drums in a ska-punk band.

Iron Man and Captain America leave the table. Tony asks if he is okay. No, and they shouldn’t be, Cap replies. This was a wake-up call. They should all pay attention and a ct. Stark jokes he didn’t mean that. He meant him passing and Cap failing. That must be hard for him. Cap shoots back, Iron Man made the Celestial. It was based on him and it tried to destroy Earth. And he is taking his opinion as meaning anything? Let him have this one, Tony wheedles, then announces he is going to head to the pool in memory of Sersi. Care to join? But Cap already has a meeting lined up.

He finds Jada sitting in some ruins and tells her he owed her a coffee. How is she doing? Worse and better. They drink the coffee in companionable silence. This doesn’t prove anything, she states. He agrees. It isn’t a good world, but you never know.

Remember, “you did not pass,” are the Progenitor’ last words. It was not worthy of judging anyone. Ajak will work to become a god worthy of the name. While her heretical followers have an endless, thankless penance to serve humanity, she will not make its mistake. One cannot judge a species in a single day. Judgment is ongoing. Humanity’s mistakes are cumulative. They should remember every day, perhaps this is the day the species goes too far and the world is doomed. Act accordingly. Every day is Judgment Day.

Ajak stretches out her arm. It is unclear in which direction her thumb will move…

Characters Involved: 

Exodus, Mr. Sinister, Storm (Quiet Council)
Cyclops, Jean Grey (X-Men)
Ajak, Makkari, Sersi, (renegade Eternals)

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

Syne the Memotaur
Urnaos the undying

Moira MacTaggert, Nimrod (Orchis)
Daniela, Jada, Katrina, Kenta, Komali, Tom

Story Notes: 

This is the last issue of the crossover. It directly follows A.X.E. Eternals. There is an epilogue, mostly pertaining to the Eternals in Judgment Day Omega.

Starfox gave the order to evacuate humanity in A.X.E. Starfox.

Phastos managed to delay the Machine’s self-destruct by purging its personality in A.X.E: Death to the Mutants #3.

Nightcrawler got Orchis involved in Immortal X-Men #7

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