Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Valerio Schiti, Mark Brooks, Marte Garcia, VC’s Clayton Cowles, and Jay Bowen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: September 13th, 2022
The new head of the Eternals, Druig, distinguished that mutants embody a surplus deviation and consequently, they must be destroyed. So, Druig discharged the Hex to bombard Krakoa initiating an all-out war. However, behind the scenes, a coalition of the Eternals disagreed with Druig’s agenda and worked secretly with the Avengers and Mr. Sinister to resurrect the Progenitor, which just so happened to be the husk of an old Celestial and multipurpose headquarters for the Avengers. Nevertheless, things went from bad to worse once the Progenitor decided to give the entire planet 24 hours before judging everyone to life or death. The X-Men sought to take down the Progenitor but failed miserably in their efforts leaving the world to wait for its judgment. Let’s dive into A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4 by Kieron Gillen to see if the rogue Eternals‘ last-ditch effort of freeing Starfox will be enough to save the entire planet from judgment.
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It turns out Eros is the key. The idea I suggested last issue in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #3 was spot on. That’s exactly what the rogue Eternals wanted to do. The plan was to emotionally change the Progenitor through Eros’ abilities to get him to give everyone a passing grade. However, Eros believes that plan will fail and takes a different path, which I won’t spoil. Alas, this path isn’t as creative as the one I suggested and ultimately showcases him doing something with his abilities that would still take more than a day to accomplish. And time they don’t have.
Therefore, this angle Gillen takes wasn’t necessarily bad but developed a wrinkle that seemed less plausible and actually took away some intensity from the issue that would have added a bit more action and suspense throughout. Don’t get me wrong, the last third of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4 was cluttered with vehemence. This ending was truly wicked and worth the price alone. It’s just a shame that the front two-thirds were so slow with the build-up.
I’ll simply leave fans with this: we need more Uranos! He has made the difference in this event even more so than the Hex, the Progenitor, and the mini mutant battles. He quite possibly could have been the villain all on his own and I would have bought it. Sure, the Progenitor adds a more galactic threat but Uranos is certainly the big time. Heck, I even love the technical creative switch-a-roo from Tony that uses some intellect to take down this juggernaut as you’ll read through A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4. He just adds so much hatred and flavor to this event which is what’s deeply keeping my interest. Hopefully, we get more of him in the future!
Nevertheless, for as interesting and powerful as A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4 was, I can’t stop suggesting a huge detail for Gillen that would help tremendously. The narration from the Progenitor is just too much. It continues to clutter each page and weighs down each issue. That’s ultimately what slows down the front two-thirds. Plus, I think by now readers get the point… everyone is being judged. However, the judgment seems ludicrous at this point. The reasonings for a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” are trivial at best. It’s simply becoming unnecessary and I hope we can move past it as A.X.E.: Judgment Day wraps up.
THE THEME SO FAR
I needed to take a moment to emphasize the theme that’s really registered with me that’s been floating on the surface since this event began. And it’s Cap that sets the tone of that theme in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4 early on and hammers it home late. Everyone isn’t good but society still thinks that way. Readers, we look around our current world and ultimately think we are all good simply because we personally may not have ruined our marriage by cheating or killed millions in a holocaust. We personally don’t rape, enslave, steal, or lie on our taxes. And for most, this is true. But all we are really doing is comparing our own missteps and wrong-doing to others which is relative. And from our perspective, we’re doing all right. It’s always someone else’s fault. If “they” do something bad, it’s because they’re bad. But when “you” do that very same thing, “you” had to do it. “You” didn’t have a choice. Sound familiar? We’re a “good person”. And ironically, out of all the Marvel characters, Cap looks at the world from that vantage point.
To us, Cap is the golden, good-ole-boy. However, even he still bends the rules and makes choices that kill millions. Heck, in the movie he basically changed the timeline to be with Peggy killing those kids and grandkids we saw earlier in the Captain America Movie. Now, they never existed. He’s hunted mutants in the Age of X, and he was Anti-Registration causing a Civil War which is going against government authority. And that’s the problem which is the theme under the surface of this event. Who decides right and wrong? Is it subjective or objective? Is it personal? Is it a majority rule? Because look at our current climate to see what happens when we trust our own personal choices. Look at the millions in our own history slaughtered by a majority vote and the people enslaved for trusting man’s opinion of right and wrong.
The Progenitor gets to the heart of this foundational issue as A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4 wraps pointing out that something outside ourselves needs to be the judge. In our culture, many turn to religion like Christianity as that moral compass. The moral guide is outside humanity yet still causes friction with society bent on majority rule and personal, emotional feelings. Regardless, man can still see the dilemma we face by looking at our news for one hot minute. School shootings, murder, nasty online posts filled with venomous hate, tyranny, genocide, and natural disasters are only a few that make the Progenitor’s decisions seem easy. And it’s that point that I feel Gillen is making. Are we worth saving and if so, why? Plus, who makes that call? It’s certainly some heavy questions to ponder with a friend over a coffee. I highly recommend pondering on these questions this week. And genuinely, if you need to talk about any of it, feel free to shoot me a message.
Valerio Schiti and Marte Garcia add tension and suspense to this week’s A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4. I absolutely love how the opening and closing aspects of the issue focus on Cap and his connection with the people as they practically lose control. Essentially, if the world was ending from a large being judging everyone, I’m pretty sure there would be riots, revolts, and outrage. There is nothing anyone could do about it… and Schiti and Garcia showcase that through the comic. When I think back to past events, I feel like that’s something artists and creative teams tend to overlook. But not Gillen and Schiti. They make it a focus of contention through A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4.
Plus, the dynamic between Uranos and even the Uni-Mind mixed with the colors and textures within the battles were outstanding. There is so much destruction that Schiti layers on top of the madness surrounding this judgment that readers will be fully encapsulated by the issue. Alas, it’s the narration that still continues to cause cramped spaces and the occasional sloppy renderings that should be lessened as the event wraps.
A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4 did an outstanding job getting this reviewer to THINK. And not just about the plot, but deep, weighty topics that are lost by most in this social media climate and cultural unrest. Where every platform turns into a boxing ring from all sides. Alas, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a quote from C.S. Lewis – “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4 focused my attention on who decides the moral laws. Who decides what is just and unjust? Who is the judge? Even the world of Marvel Comics fights with that dilemma on the reg… and they’re a fictional world with superheroes and superpowers. If they struggle, what are we to do? And this question I pose not just rhetorically but also in the context of the issue. I’m excited to see how Gillen will manage this new impending judgment. How will the world get through this one? I guess we’ll have to continue to read and find out. But readers, the excitement and speculation are real! Grab A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4 as soon as you can. Other than the massive narration, this issue has it all! Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!