A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3

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 new Celestial, the Progenitor, shows it is serious by judging Captain America first, and failing him. Phastos tells the heroes that there is a vulnerable node in the Celestial that they could use to destroy it, but this may cause a detonation that would destroy Iceland. Ajak and Makkari forbid it and the Avengers don’t see it as an option either. Mr. Sinister passes the intel to Destiny and tells her to sell the idea to the Quiet Council correctly. On the Quiet Council, Destiny lies about the risk and the motion passes. While the mutants send a strike force to the North Pole, Emma Frost has been in talks with the Deviants, and Kro leads a Deviant army through the Krakoan gates to protect Krakoa from the Hex in the meantime. The mutants are discovered and the Eternals are forced to fight them, as they have to protect the Celestial. Jean Grey manages to damage the node. Iron Man tells her about the true risk just before it detonates – until it turns out, all of this happened in the Celestial’s mind and was merely a test. They realize that they have to work together and pass the test. This gives Sersi an idea and a little later she and Jack of Knives break a prisoner out of the Exclusion - Eros of Titan aka Starfox.

Full Summary: 

The North Pole:
A group of heroes has raised a new Celestial, the Progenitor, in the hope of having a gentler god who would end the Eternals’ war on mutants. While the Progenitor did that, he then announced his decision to judge everyone on Earth.

Ajak wonders whether this is a test too. To judge people individually and then let the tally decide the world’s fate? To drag the good down with the sinners? Their god would not be so unjust. Makkari touches her shoulder and signs her reply. Is she sure?

Ajak admits Makkari might be right. Their gods have been unjust before. Maybe they shouldn’t have used a failing human as an element. Said failing human – Tony Stark – shouts they can’t blame him for this. Only he can blame himself for this. More pragmatic, Captain America states, blame can wait. They made this mess. How do they clean it up?

The Progenitor identifies Captain America as the leader. He judges him first. He appears to Cap as an idealized version of himself and announces: He is a dream of a better country. He has been trying to inspire it for a century. This country is the world’s leader… and the world is what it is. It is worse every day. He is a failure. He moves his thumb downward.

Iron Man wonders, if it judges Cap by that standard, what chance do the rest of them have? Cap replies they are not going to play its game. Not unless there is no other option. He tells Tony to try and find a way out of this. He’ll keep the world calm.

Tom listens to Cap’s broadcast at the local pub. He nods along: Good guy for a yank. A bit soft, but a bit tough too. Someone harder than Tom asks if they are going to be punished for what the mutants have been up to. Britain doesn’t even recognize them! Tom nods along: the harder guy in the bar is saying what everyone is thinking.

Katrina misses Cap’s broadcast. She watches the highlights later. Earlier, after listening to the Progenitor’s words, she hurried to post an “okay, now cancel culture is real” joke. Disappointing numbers. She hoped for more distraction. Instead, she sits sleepless with anxiety.

Komali, Arjun’s widow, sees his body. In the moment, she carries her loss with all the dignity she can. Later, she will howl. She howled when he talked of judgment day. For her, it was already the end of the world. She cursed the Progenitor with all her heart; he watched interested.

Daniela is told about the Avengers’ struggle and has a moment of empathy. Being a superhero must be like working a half dozen jobs. It never ends. Her mother messages her and tells her to get home. She thinks it may get nasty. Sure, Daniela messages back, lying. A girl has to work.

Jada sits on her sofa, watching. She wishes she could believe the man in the flag. He seems sincere, but she knows sincerity and reality are rarely close friends.

Kenta tried to use the end of the world as an excuse to avoid homework. His father tells him if they are all being judged, perhaps Kenta will be judged on his homework. Does Kenta want to help destroy the world because he couldn’t face Algebra? Kenta says he’ll take the chance. His father laughs. His smile disappears when he leaves the room. He judges himself. What kind of father can’t protect his family?

In the Exclusion, Druig is once again talking to his imprisoned grandfather. Uranos the Undying is amused: that new god is better than their old Celestials. This is a world of failure and disappointments. It should be swept away. Druig peevishly replies the world hasn’t failed its test yet. Now he shouldn’t take Druig’s asking his advice as a sign that things are going badly. He thought it might be good using his institutional knowledge. He had Jack of Knives observing the Avengers and report back. He will ‘port the intel over.

Uranos decides that the Celestial judged Captain America a failure for not fulfilling his aims and duty. He adds that the Eternals have failed their duty. It is not too late to make amends. Any deviation is excess deviation! he insists.

Surprisingly, Druig agrees, then telepathically contacts the other Eternals and gives orders to prepare the Hex once more and renew the psychic siege against the mutants.

Uranos orders him to let him out if he is serious. Druig tells his grandfather that things would have to be considerably worse than now for him to get into arm’s reach of Uranos.

In a station at the North Pole:
Phastos informs the others that their society is marching to war again. Krakoa will be under attack again soon; they must hurry. He asks Iron Man what he has found. Showing a hologram of the Progenitor, Stark explains they have found something. They can hit a certain internal node hard enough and the whole thing falls apart. Ajak protests they cannot turn it off. It is their god! They can’t treat it like a science experiment gone awry. They must try to understand it.

Phastos muses its death would also cause a backlash to the Eternals. The war could be over but… he turns to Stark and tells him to follow the system. It could cause a cascade. On its first day of life, a Celestial has unimaginable power. They’d be risking an explosion. It could hit Reykjavik. From here.

Ajak and Makkari turn to leave. Ajak tells them to find another way. Stark announces, that’s off the table for a dozen reasons. Let’s move on… There’s times he envies Cap for getting hitting-things-and-making-speeches duty.

Phastos changes his tune. With the priests gone, he thinks that, if they can find a way to do it safely, they should do it. Ajak and Makkari are believers. He thinks the Eternals should make a sacrifice for the others. This is their fault, and the world has outgrown them. However, they should know, if they do follow the plan, the Eternals will try to stop them. Their principles force them to. If they plan to do it… do it safely and do it secretly.

Sinister, who has been silent so far, enthuses that he loves secrets. Make it safe and make it get the hell off the stage - got it. Telepathically, he contacts Destiny. He gives her the information and tells her to time it right.

The island is again under attack. In the Quiet Council, Xavier is killed, overwhelmed by the telepathic siege. Emma Frost tells Hope Summers they need another Xavier. Destiny joins them and announces they need a council meeting. An opportunity presents itself. Emma is in a bad mood from handling the relentless psychic attack but agrees. She calls the council members together telepathically. Emma tells her to make it quick. Exodus agrees. He has to fight both the psychic siege and the Hex monsters.

Destiny quickly summarizes the message. Sinister has been in contact. He was kidnapped by the Eternals and helped make the new Celestial. He has discovered a weakness. If they attack it, they can destroy it and end this judgment day. Its loss would paralyze the Eternals. The war would be over but there’s a risk that it could cause considerable devastation. She has looked into the future; it will not happen. She warns them they have to act swiftly or the Eternals will block them. She calls for an immediate vote.

Kate Pryde protests that Xavier is dead and Storm is on Mars. She is cheating! She accuses a seer of planning? How shocking, Destiny snarks. She has been planning around the weakness of her fellow mutants for over a century. She doesn’t see why she should stop now.

They vote. In favor of the plan: Destiny, Shaw, Mystique, Exodus, Hope. Against: Colossus, Nightcrawler, Kate. The White Queen abstains. The motion passes.

Really? Nightcrawler angrily asks Hope, who retorts that if you get a headshot you use the opportunity. This is all about measured risks. Emma informs them that the War Captains will assemble a force and be briefed. They should know what the dangers are. Destiny disagrees. She reminds them Jean and Scott left this circle due to moral quibbles. They chose to be implements of policy, while they are the Quiet Council. Emma can dress in white all she wishes, but the blood is on their hands.

Exodus opines that Summers risked the Earth with the Phoenix to rebirth their species. He does not see the difference between this and that. Once more, let them save the world. Humans can share in the danger for once.

Kurt sensibly asks if they can even send away a strike force. If they send away their best, the Eternals will overwhelm them. Emma announces she also has a little secret: She has been making a few diplomatic overtures herself.

Elsewhere on Krakoa, Cyclops shouts the gates are opening on their own! How did the Eternals…

A horde of unique beings step through. Not the Eternals, their leader Kro replies. Almost quite the opposite, in fact. They are the Deviants and here to stand with their brethren against their Eternal oppressors. Cyclops points out mutants are not Deviants. Kro retorts that they could use the mutants’ gates. They share enough genes for that. But to be honest, anyone on the wrong end of an Eternal’s theurgic lance is Deviant enough, as far as he is concerned. He tells the X-Men to save the world while the Deviants will blunt Eternal blades with their numbers. They’ve been doing that for a long time.

Back at the North Pole, Captain America is calling the group there, telling them with the judgment day situation the situation on the streets is getting ugly. It’s only belief that the heroes will stop this that is keeping things from churning over. Anything from their side on shutting down the Celestial? No, at least not safely, Iron Man replies.

Ajak interjects that any method of shutting down their god is unacceptable. She is trying to communicate with it. She breaks off, realizing the divine boundary has been breached. Infiltrators! she hisses. Did Stark think they would just trust his technology? Never trust technology that’s less than 40,000 years old! An army of mutants is coming.

Stark asks Sinister if he knows anything about this. Sinister interrupts communication with the Avengers and presses a button. Oops? he replies sheepishly.

Phastos explains he has opened the way to the node. They are coming for that. Stark shouts at Sinister that millions could die. But billions will live, is the reply. They won’t thank them, but they are mutants and used to that. They can say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ later. Well, maybe they can’t, he adds with a grin, as if it goes wrong, Stark will die while Sinister will resurrect… so toodles, maybe?

As the Principles engage, the three Eternals blindly obey the Principle “protect the Celestial.” They warn the X-Men outside.

Jean Grey sighs and tells the others they can drop Forge’s stealth tech. They’ve been made. Why couldn’t it be easy for once? Wolverine tells her to look on the bright side. They’ve got experience doing it the old-fashioned way. And the X-Men battle against the Eternals whether they are priests, renegades or others.

Jean sends a telepathic message, asking if someone can help her get past Ikaris. Exodus drops Ikaris and Jean flies toward the Celestial, specifically the vulnerable node, ignoring Iron Man who tries to stop her. She apologizes then telekinetically damages the node. Stark fatalistically tells her if this node goes, the whole Celestial might detonate. And the shock wave could hit cities. Jean is shocked. She didn’t know. She should have known, she berates herself. Is it going off? she asks as Stark examines the damage. He smiles in relief. He thinks it’s going to be all…

That’s when it detonates. Along with Iceland.

Except it doesn’t. Jean and all of them realize that the whole attack and its consequences happened in the Progenitor’s mind. She should have known, Jean states, forlorn. The Progenitor thinks she is one of the few who could have known the annihilation did not happen. It merely let everyone taste the experience. Elsewhere, people hug in relief. Some died of heart attacks.

As it feels the world does not understand, the Progenitor explains, talking to all sentient beings: Their heroes think themselves gods beyond judgment. Now they see they are mistaken. “Your day ticks away. Justify yourselves!”

People are judged individually. On Krakoa, Emma Frost gets a thumbs down, whereas Deviant leader Kro passes. Destiny and Mystique both fail. Others it will consider longer.

Jean berates Mr. Sinister telepathically. He knew about the risk! she shouts. He retorts that, firstly, this is a very melodramatic projection. And, secondly, she would have known, had she stayed on the Council. He doesn’t know what the big fellow thinks of her, but she gets a big thumbs down and a raspberry from him! Now excuse him, the grown-ups are still working. He breaks off contact.

He refers to the fact that Makkari and Phastos both have to keep Ajak from killing him. He shrugs that it was worth a try. What’s next? Stark glumly replies it’s clear what’s next. It’s going to judge them all and there is nothing they can do about it. Cap, who is with them via holographic projection, replies there is. They make sure they pass. This will have scared a lot of people. They are going to do things they will regret, but the only way they get out of this is with the whole world pulling together. This gives Sersi an idea.

A little later, she and fellow Eternal, Jack of Knives, are breaking into the Exclusion. She thanks Jack for joining them. Jack corrects her; they are not joining - this is a job. They get paid. They’ll get Sersi’s target out, they promise. Luckily, he is low security. Ur-Luciva is a hellish guard but she doesn’t really care about this one.

Who’s there? someone from within the cell asks. Sersi tells him to hush. They are going to break him out. They are in terrible trouble and she thinks he can help. Someone to get the world to sing from the same hymn sheet. Now this is Eternals business, but some of them have never been just Eternals. She thought perhaps it’s time for a little of the “Avengers, Assemble,” Starfox, she suggests, as the cell door swings open. The inmate smiles languidly. He loves the idea. The world will have to realize all you need is love! Eros of Titan aka Starfox enthuses.

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Destiny, Emma Frost, Exodus, Hope Summers II, Kate Pryde, Mr. Sinister, Mystique, Nightcrawler,Sebastian Shaw (Quiet Council)
Archangel, Bishop, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey, Psylocke II, Wolverine

Ajak, Ikaris, Kingo Sunen, Makkari, Phastos, Sersi, Sprite, Thena
Jack of Knives
Captain America, Iron Man (Avengers)

Karkas the kind, Ransac the Reject and other Deviants

Druig, Uranos

Daniela, Jada, Katrina, Kenta, Komali, Tom

Story Notes: 

The story is continued in A.X.E: Death to the Mutants #2, Immortal X-Men #6 and next issue.

Emma making deals with Kro is shown in Death to the Mutants #2

Starfox was killed in Guardians of the Galaxy (5th series) #6 by Gamora to prevent Thanos from using him as a means for rebirth. Why he has been reborn in the Exclusion is explained in A.XE.: Starfox.


FAILED: Captain America, Emma Frost, Destiny, MystiquePASSED: Kro

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