A.X.E.: Eve of Judgment #1 Review

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Art: Pascual Ferry

Colors: Dean White

Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover: Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz & Rachelle Rosenberg

Variant Cover: Ashley Witter; John Cassady & Laura Martin; Lucas Werneck; MR Garcin; Peach Momoko; Phil Noto

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: 3.99

Release Date: July 13th, 2022

Reviewer: Theron

Judgment Day approaches! Why are three of Marvel’s most powerful groups on a collision course? And as the conflict approaches, how united are the ETERNALS? A.X.E.: EVE OF JUDGMENT #1 addresses both questions as it pulls back the curtain on recent battles, personal relationships, and political machinations motivating those charged with correcting excess deviation.


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 the A.X.E.: Eve of Judgment #1 Review.

The Dispatch

 A.X.E.: EVE OF JUDGMENT #1 is a must-have issue going into Marvel’s next big event. Centered as it is around the ETERNALS, A.X.E. JUDGMENT DAY may sound intimidating to some. The Eternals don’t have the same name recognition as the Avengers and X-Men. A.X.E.: EVE OF JUDGMENT #1 is Kieron Gillen’s answer to anyone worried they’ll be uninformed. He dives straight into the story and efficiently delivers the who, why, where, and how of it all.

Prologue issues can be a mixed bag, sometimes being nothing more than non-essential fluff– commercials for the event. Not so with A.X.E.: EVE OF JUDGMENT #1. This issue is dense and will benefit from multiple readings. Gillen packs in a lot of exposition, almost all of it about the ETERNALS. The way he layers the ETERNALS’ backstory also lets him sprinkle in exposition about the X-Men for unfamiliar readers.

 This is not a non-stop infodump of an issue, though. A.X.E.: EVE OF JUDGMENT #1 delivers character-focused vignettes that let us get to know, however briefly, several ETERNALS. And it isn’t merely a roll call of characters, locations, and jobs. It is relationships, moods, quiet moments, and action sequences. Most importantly, it has distinct voices. We learn a lot about these characters in a short period of time, and they leave an impression.

The issue successfully jumps between scenes thanks to an unseen narrator, the nature of which is hinted at but not explained–at least not yet. The narrator, the Machine that is Earth, moves us from moment to moment in such a way that the different characters and events feel tied together.

The Machine is also the source of much of the issue’s humor, delivered in small moments of near whimsy. There’s a sense that the Machine is amused, in a non-judgmental been-there-done-that sort of way, with the characters’ machinations. Most of the rest of the humor comes from Druig and Domo which feels odd given their roles in the story, but also speaks volumes about the kind of people they are.

The Art

In the same way that Gillen uses words to tell us who the ETERNALS are, Pasqual Ferry and Dean White use images. The designs for the main characters may be carry-overs from Esad Ribić’s ETERNALS work, but Ferry and White make them their own. White’s colors are more vibrant than ETERNALS colorist Matthew Wilson’s, and Ferry’s lines are a little heavier a little rounder, and slightly less overloaded with detail. The two artists put their own spin on the characters while staying loyal to Ribić’s designs.

Ferry also keeps the characters visually distinct. The varied costumes would be a dead giveaway on their own, but the characters’ builds and faces help establish exactly who we’re looking at. With large teams there is the danger that characters, especially minor ones, will take on similar looks when out of costume; readers can end up looking at a sea of only marginally different faces. There is no danger of that here. Readers not familiar with the ETERNALS going into this book will be able to easily identify them in the future.

Don’t Forget the Lettering

The work in differentiating a large number of characters in this issue extends even to the lettering. The Machine’s narration boxes and font feel sterile. The Deviants’ uneven dialogue bubbles with their lower case letters have a less human quality than the crisp, white, symmetrical variety. Makkari’s translation boxes and their squiggly connection to her identify the unique form of communication. Clayton Cowles’s work here is integral to the larger whole.

Final Thoughts

I have not been an ETERNALS reader, so I was one of those approaching A.X.E. JUDGMENT DAY with skepticism. Would I know what was going on, or would I stay a step behind? My hope was that A.X.E.: EVE OF JUDGMENT #1 would catch me up on what I needed to know. Even a more illustrated version of a Marvel Handbook would have sufficed. But Gillen, Ferry, White, and Cowles deliver something far in excess of what I expected.

The one real knock against the issue is that it’s slow. Given what Gillen set out to achieve that’s hardly surprising. If it weren’t for the Machine’s narration the issue wouldn’t be as successful as it is. Even so, there were moments when my mind drifted–especially during a lengthy exchange between the Deviant Kro and ETERNALS Thena and Sersi. For all Gillen’s efforts, there are things that remain impenetrable without the frame of reference ETERNALS no doubt provides.

That said, Gillen has not only made me feel prepared for A.X.E. JUDGMENT DAY, but he has also made me curious enough to want to go back and read ETERNALS rather than feeling that I have to go back and read ETERNALS.


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