A.X.E.: Starfox #1

Issue Date: 
December 2022
Story Title: 

Kieron Gillen (writer), Daniele di Nucuolo (artist), Frank William (color), VC’s Joe Sabino (letterer), Daniele di Nucuolo and Frank William (cover artist), Chrissie Zullo, Kevin Wada (cover variants) Jay Bowen (design), Martin Biro (assistant editor), Annalisa Bissa (associate editor) Tom Breevort (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Avengers and X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Eternals created by Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Millennia ago on Titan, after the birth of Thanos, Sui-San is mentally recovered enough that she feels they should try for another child, in the hope that it will be a perfect Eternal. Some years later, when their second son Eros is a young man, he and Sui-San secretly travel to Earth and integrate Eros with the Machine that is Earth, proving he is a true Eternal and that Mentor and Sui-San’s experiment was a success. Sui-San asks him to introduce himself to the rest of the Eternals but he panics, feeling it is too soon and promises he will do it later. There is no later, however, as during some of his carousing in space he learns that Thanos has murdered their mother and invaded Titan. In the present, Eros is doing his level best at super-heroing, trying to save people from the Progenitor’s extinction events. He finally realizes he has to think like a Prime Eternal instead of a superhero. He intends to have the Machine that is Earth open all teleportation nodes on Earth to evacuate the surviving humans into the Eternal cities. His uncle Zuras stops him. Angry at the way his nephew has failed, he threatens that, if he does this, the Eternals will panic and slaughter the humans. After getting over his anger at Zuras (for the way he treated Eros’ parents), Eros suggests Zuras support him, since the eternals trust him, and in return he will return the post of Prime Eternal to him after this is over. Zuras is surprised but agrees and very soon the humans are evacuated.

Full Summary: 

Eros thinks, it is ironic. His brother Thanos was born out of love. He was born out of desperation.

Titan, long ago:
Mentor asks his wife Sui-San, whether she is sure. After her feelings about little Thanos? In the aftermath she was… Sui-San interrupts, she was unwell. She is unwell, she admits. But they must have another child. He will be hope and glory, she predicts. He will be everything they have wished for! He will prove Eternal love can flourish Eternal and bear Eternal fruit. She asks him to believe in Eros. To believe in love.

Eros and Thanos, always together, Eros muses. Even today when he is not literally here, Thanos is. Thanos is just death, and death is everywhere, and love has never been enough to stand against it!

Judgment Day +12 hours:
The Progenitor has rendered its judgment and is now using the Machine that is Earth to destroy Earth. While a small group of heroes has entered the Progenitor’s body to destroy it from within, the others have reset the Machine to slow the Progenitor’s efforts. The Machine is now sending teams to accelerated extinction events to help.

Eros blames himself. He thought he could convince the Progenitor. He asks the Machine where the accelerated extinction event is. While this looks bad, it’s the kind of bad that is everywhere. The Machine replies the event is incoming. Updates will be provided as the situation develops. While catching a woman that falls from a building, Eros complains the Machine used to be more fun. It replies it was malfunctioning.

Eros lands and looks at the panicked people hurting themselves. He refused Sersi’s suggestion to use his gift to change the world’s hearts and pass. He does not regret it, because to use his powers so would be a monstrosity. All he does ethically is embody an emotion. Inspire and hope for the best.

He tries to spread calm but overdoes it a bit, as the people go from panicking to trance-like. Not that calm! he shouts. World-ending, remember? He urges them to get under cover. They are going to get through this, he assures them.

Eros thinks that a day to improve the world wasn’t enough. If he had come here long ago, could he have made a difference? It’s what he was meant to do…

His father A’lars and his uncle Zuras had gone to war with each other over the question whether new Eternals should be born and added to the Machine. The compromise was for A’lars to go into exile to attempt this and report back on his results. While many Eternal-like beings were created on Titan, none were Eternals. Kronos provided quantum wedding bands for A’lars and Sui-san’s wedding to make the creation of true Eternal offspring possible.

Child one was Thanos, who turned out to be a mass murderer on a universal scale. Child two was Eros, a moderately successful adventurer. As a result, the experiment was considered a failure by Eternal society. Creating new Eternals was not worth the risk and A’lars and Sui-San were put into the Exclusion (the Eternals’ prison).

“Moderately successful adventurer,” Eros thinks. It stings but it’s true. Maybe things would have been different if he’d stayed…

Olympia (Capital of the Eternals) a long time ago:
Sui-San and a young Eros have snuck inside to integrate Eros with the Machine that is Earth, proving he is a true Eternal. The experiment worked. Eros urges that they need to leave. Dad said they are not welcome here. Sui-san corrects that she is not welcome, but Eros did nothing wrong. He can stay. He must. He is his parents’ redemption. He is the first Eternal to join the Machine. He must prove to the Eternals that Thanos was the aberration. Eros will change the unchanging people! Eros panics at her expectations. He is too young, he retorts. He needs to live a little. He runs ahead, while promising to her that one day he will do it.

Eros muses he has been hiding from that lone day a long time, until the days ran out.

The Machine warns that the accelerated extinction event is approaching. A giant flaming skull meteorite closes in on the city from the sky. Eros admits it has a certain gothic panache. He chides himself to stop thinking about the past and what ifs. He is here now and as he is a moderately successful adventurer the city isn’t going to die while he is here The problem is if he is not there.

His mind wanders again.

Some years ago:
Deep Space Party Zone XII:
Eros is in a bar, fraternizing with an alien. A Rigelian Recorder announces he is looking for Eros of Titan. Eros denies that identity. He is Starfox, he claims.

A name he would use later as an Avenger. A better name. A free name. Eros is a creature chained to destiny and a murderous brother. Starfox is free among the skies to love, not just be love. The Recorder turns away and Eros calls after him asking what news he has for Eros. Thanos has destroyed Titan, is the curt reply.

Later, at his mother’s grave, he swore it would be his last drink, his last line, his last lapdance. That didn’t last a week. He fought Thanos on and off, but only really as Starfox.

As Starfox fights Thanos right now. And how can one who is love fight death?

As he flies upwards, he asks the Machine to guide him to the nearest teleportation node. He needs an escape route to pull this off. He uses his power to attract the hydrogen molecules in the meteorite to each other. The meteorite explodes before reaching the city. Eros triumphs briefly but then remembers the city is still being killed by a thousand cuts. Eros wins battles, Thanos wins wars.

His brother had died and had used Eros’ body to return to life. Eros was killed then, but the chain his mother had forged with the Machine held. Eros was reborn on Earth, to the confusion of his distant family. The Machine had never informed them that Eros had been added to it and they hadn’t asked.

Zuras ordered him to be held captive in the Exclusion until they worked out what to do with him. Likely no more than a few hundred thousand years. Plus, no torture. That was polite. Compared to what they did to his father, it was kind. Still Eros had time to think. He was fed up running from destiny. If he ever got out, he’d live up to it.

He did get out and Sersi asked him to save the world. It seemed perfect. A hero once more. And now, a day later, he sees exactly how little heroism achieved. The people dying with no hope are the only heroes here.

He hears a crying man in the rubble. Eros starts digging him out then sees that the man has been impaled through the stomach. The man knows it is hopeless and cries he is going to die. Eros takes his hand and smiles kindly. Calling the man his friend, he says he is sorry. He uses his power to calm him while figuring that sometimes words spoken with love are all they have to give. It was a beautiful world, he tells the dying man, and it was good to live here, at least for a while. It was good to meet him. Calmed, the man thanks him and dies.

He figures the man thanks Starfox and, as he brings comfort here, thousand more are dying. Starfox can’t help them all - he has to be Eros!

He returns to Olympia through a teleporting gate and asks the Machine that is Earth if his plan can be done. The Machine affirms this. He has to give the order from the throne as Prime Eternal. Eros sits down on the throne.

Nephew, what are you doing?” booms the voice of Zuras, his uncle, the former Prime Eternal, who went to war to keep Eros’ father from having children. He has been Prime Eternal almost constantly ever since. They are not fans of each other. Plus, his mental defenses protect him from Eros’ power. This could escalate.

Calling him “uncle,” Eros observes he looks a little peaky. Not to be deterred, Zuras repeats his question. Eros explains he is going to open all the portals and remove the access restrictions. He asks the Machine about the number of teleport nodes on Earth. On average, there is one every five hundred meters or so across the planet. And how much room do they have inside the Machine? he asks. The Machine begins a highly technical explanation and is told to skip the boring bits. They can shelter all remaining survivors is what he wanted to hear.

Eros smiles, they can protect humanity until this is all over, one way or the other, so he figures, why not?

Calling him “boy,” Zuras opines that it is a pretty idea, but it goes against all tradition. Eros shrugs. He’s in charge, so…

He is about to give the order to activate, when Zuras’ eyebeams hit him. Zuras shouts that his carelessness runs wild and will doom everyone. He is too like his father!

And perhaps Zuras is too much like his uncle! Eros retorts. How dare he?! Zuras seethes while trying to blast him again, only this time Eros dodges the blasts. Do not compare him to Uranos, Zuras demands. He is the only one who cares about their duty! When Eros’ brother stole the throne? Zuras fought - everyone else caved! Everyone. Everything he had done is for duty – it’s all he has done! It’s all he wants to do!

Zuras’ eyes glow as he continues, he ruled the Earth for hundreds of thousands of years and the sun came up every day. Druig ruled it for a month, and this. Eros rules it for a day and he finds new ways to compound to Druig’s folly!

Eros hits him and accuses him of being scared when he went to war with Eros’ dad and he is scared now. Eros believes they can change! He runs toward the throne, joking maybe he can be the JFK of the Eternals. They have had many things. They never had a hot Prime Eternal.

Zuras hits him with his eyeblast while admonishing him for quipping like an adventurer. He is Prime Eternal, he shouldn’t sully his lips!

Okay, Eros turns toward him in a fighting stance, eyes aglow, clearly furious. He accuses Zuras of putting Eros’ parents into a forever prison and torturing his father A’lars just to say, “I told you so!” Of course, Zuras agrees. He was furious. He is furious! How could his brother be so stupid?!

He tries to beat Eros, who dodges his attack. Didn’t he see what happened to their father? All this hubristic belief in progress! They are the Eternals! They were given everything! All they have to do was their job.

Eros tackles Zuras, who continues that the revelation that they were mere servants drove some of them mad. He says, “Why not?” Protect the Machine. Cull the Deviants when they get too wild. Let them do their job of spreading wonder. Why try to improve the Machine when it is so large a risk?

Grabbing him by the front of his shirt, Eros accuses him of still sounding scared. Yes, he is scared, Zuras replies and lashes out with an energy blast pushing Eros away. This parody of a Celestial is killing them all. Because a priest thought progress was possible. Eros’ grandfather thought progress was possible and selfishly raised himself up to cosmic godhood while nearly destroying the planet. Eros’ father thought progress was possible and gave them Thanos and him. Thanos who drowned the universe in corpses and Eros whom their people believed in and who has now utterly let them down… and he still expects them to follow him? He doesn’t know the Eternals! While Eros was gallivanting across the universe, Zuras was here, working with them. For them. Save the humans? Good. That is their job. But if Eros opens the nodes, the Eternals will butcher them. Those who remain are fearful, distrusting and can take no risk on his little lies of “hope” and “improvement.” They are eternal - that is the point! That is all they are! And with the Machine crumbling, it seems that the dreamers have taken even that from them. No matter what Eros’ powers are, they will never trust him now!

Eros admits Zuras is right. They won’t believe him. Invitingly, he points at the throne. They will believe Zuras.

Surprised, Zuras asks if he would give up the throne. When this is done, yes, Eros replies. He would back Zuras, if he listens to him. He doesn’t want to lead. That’s not what he is for. He wants to inspire. Zuras doesn’t believe things can change for the better? Eros does, that his uncle doesn’t, shows why he needs Eros. Today his hope will save a lot of people, and Zuras will see.

Zuras muses that he is unsure whether that is a worse form of hubris than that of Eros’ father or grandfather. Eros smiles he is happy to debate it. That’s kind of the point, but come on, Zuras… Prime Eternal… it’s classic!

Even Zuras has to smile at his nephew’s charm and, so, a little later all over Earth, portals open and people are invited to enter Olympia and are promised drinks and nibbles. They may be high carbohydrates but the end of the world is as good an excuse for a cheat day as any. The people laugh. For a second, they are soothed. It’s what he is for. He is Starfox, the Avenger. He is Eros, the Eternal. He is the mutant child of an unchanging race.

He tells the people to make themselves at home and promises love will save them all. Someone has to believe that, he figures. It may as well be him!

Characters Involved: 

The Machine that is Earth

In flashbacks:
Mentor, Sui-San


Story Notes: 

The issue falls between A.X.E. Judgment Day #5 and 6.

The intro / back story follows the story in the oneshot Eternals: Thanos Rises: A’lars /Mentor and Sui-San are trying to have a child that is a true Eternal which mainstream Eternal society doesn’t believe is possible and they believe they have already failed with their elder son Thanos.

Sui-San went briefly mad after being faced with Thanos.

Basically, Starfox was killed by Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy (5th series) #6 to prevent Thanos from being reborn in his body.

Thanos trying to become part of the Machine was the plot of Eternals (5th series) #7-12. However, he learned that, while he had started out as a potential true Eternal, his frequent deaths and rebirths had changed him into something else.

Sui-san is not welcome with the Eternals’ because she was part of Uranos’ rebellion.

Some continuity snafus:

The flashback seems to imply Thanos attacked Titan and murdered Sui-San at the same time. While the back story changed several times, Thanos originally murdered Sui-when he was still a child, covered it up, later fled and attacked Titan almost a century later.

Since here Sui-San is still alive when Eros - the younger brother - is a young man, the chronology is different.

Originally, the Starfox monicker was given to him when he joined the Avengers and he wasn’t a big fan of the name. In this story, Eros apparently chose the Starfox name himself, because it symbolized freedom to him.

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