Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Guiu Vilanova
Colors: Alex Guimarães & Erick Arciniega
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham
Design: Jay Bowen
Cover: Esad Ribić
Variant Cover: Simone Bianchi
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: October 12th, 2022
The Progenitor has judged humanity and found it wanting. To speed up Armageddon he pushes the Machine that is Earth to do his bidding and destroy the planet. Can the Eternals stop it before the Machine obeys?
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read A.X.E.: Death to the Mutants #3 Review.
We often find compelling characters in the most unlikely places. That has been the case with The Machine that is Earth ever since A.X.E. EVE OF DESTRUCTION #1, the Eternals-focused prologue issue to A.X.E. JUDGMENT DAY. The Machine has been a constant companion through A.X.E. DEATH TO THE MUTANTS, and now in A.X.E. DEATH TO THE MUTANTS #3 Gillen tests just how close we’ve gotten to this disembodied character that runs the planet.
A.X.E. DEATH TO THE MUTANTS #3 actually takes place (at least in part) before A.X.E. STARFOX #1 which came out last week so attentive readers will know where this story is headed. The issue’s events rest on the Machine’s refusal to do what the Progenitor wants and destroy the planet.
This is finally the payoff of the character development that Gillen has put into the Machine. A.X.E. DEATH TO THE MUTANTS #3 keeps the focus on the Eternals, showing the conflict from their point of view as the series has been doing from the start. The Machine narrated the first two issues. It provided additional context to events and it added flavor (the Machine’s ill-timed sense of humor for instance), but it never interacted with the Eternals in the series–or anyone else for that matter.
We have no character relationships to draw on. We don’t like the Machine worse because he is cozy with Druig, nor do we like him more because he’s helping Ikaris or Sersei. The Machine is also disembodied so we can’t judge it based on whether it fights the Progenitor with our main characters or doesn’t. All we have to base our opinion on it to this point is our opinion of what it sounds like when it narrates.
A.X.E. DEATH TO THE MUTANTS #3 finally puts the Machine into action as it is forced to make a choice. And while it continues to narrate the issue it finally gets to interact with an Eternal. This is where the personality Gillen has established proves to be so valuable. We feel like we know the Machine so what it does here makes total sense. What happens doesn’t surprise us, and in the end, the Machine is one of the best characters in the event.
This is easily the best work Vilanova has done on the series. I commented in the review for A.X.E. DEATH TO THE MUTANTS #1 that Vilanova’s character depiction at times was inconsistent and facial structure really only worked when characters were at their angriest. Now that we’ve gotten to A.X.E. DEATH TO THE MUTANTS #3, Vilanova’s characters are consistent and easily recognizable.
Especially good in this issue is Vilanova’s presentation of Phastos. The Eternal displays a wide range of emotions throughout the issue and is the best example of how Vilanova moved beyond somewhat one-note depictions in the first issue. This is most clear when we see what Phastos has come to by the final page.
A.X.E. DEATH TO THE MUTANTS #3 proves to be the best issue of the miniseries. The art has improved in quality along the way. The issue pays off the Machine’s character development via its narration. And thanks to taking place after the Progenitor made his decision this issue avoids the event’s major pitfall which was present in the previous issue: vague and seemingly contradictory judgments. The issue would be a little stronger with more time spent with the other Eternals. But overall this is a satisfying conclusion.