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Marvel's summer crossover event AXE: Judgement Day just hit its big turning point-- let's break it down

Marvel just killed off some of their most iconic heroes in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #5

Cropped cover of Judgment Day featuring characters looking up into a shadow
Image credit: Marvel Comics

The latest installment in Marvel’s A.X.E.: Judgment Day crossover event was explosive. Last week the Celestial giant Progenitor ruled that humanity didn’t deserve to live. This week he began enacting his sentence, killing some of Marvel’s most iconic characters. Did your favorite character survive?

Spoilers ahead for September 21’s A.X.E.: Judgment Day #5.

What happens in A.X.E.: Judgment Day?

A.X.E.: Judgement Day is the latest crossover event from Marvel Comics. The mini-series is written by Kieron Gillen and penciled by Valerio Schiti, with a series of tie-ins happening across Marvel’s monthly titles. The event initially focused on a war between the Eternals and Earth’s mutants, but things shifted once the Celestial giant Progenitor was awoken. The Celestial found humanity to be flawed and decreed that he would pass final judgement after a 24 hour period. Despite the best efforts of Marvel’s mightiest heroes, Progenitor sentenced humanity to death and has already begun his genocidal rampage.

Interior page featuring fighting in Judgment Day
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Who died in A.X.E.: Judgment Day #5?

The heroes of the Marvel Universe never go down without a fight, so against all odds they launched a massive assault against Progenitor. It didn’t go well. The Celestial giant slaughtered many of the heroes. “I try to kill creatively because to be a god is to be creative,” Progenitor states. Here’s a breakdown of the confirmed deaths, and how each hero was killed.

  • Captain America – Reduced to a skeleton after one fiery hit.
  • Nightcrawler – Vaporized but immediately revived by the Krakoa Resurrection Protocols (more on that later).
  • Thor – The skin is burned off of his body in revulsion.
  • Starbrand – Burned to death.
  • Echo – Burned to death.
  • Jean Grey – Burned to death.
  • Ikaris – Sent flying directly into the sun.
  • Cyclops – Killed by his own optic blasts, which damage his head as he fires them.
  • Captain Marvel – Progenitor infects her body with a fast-acting form of cancer, killing her immediately.
  • Jack of Knives – Vaporized.

These are just the confirmed deaths seen on the page. Many other heroes such as Thing, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Man were seen wounded during the battle against Progenitor. It’s possible they were killed too.

Will the Marvel heroes stay dead?

With major heroes like Thor and Captain Marvel starring in their own monthly titles, it’s unlikely that they’ll stay dead. In fact, thanks to the Resurrection Protocols on the mutant island Krakoa, some heroes were revived even before the end of the issue. Although Progenitor described how he killed Jean Grey during the big battle, the mutant heroine was seen alive as the survivors planned their next move. It’s worth noting that Jean Grey’s abilities have given her the power to resurrect herself in the past. Jack of Knives even makes light of this, calling her “that redheaded resurrecting girl.”

Interior page featuring Captain Americas shield
Image credit: Marvel Comics

It's also possible that Jean was revived using Krakoa’s Resurrection Protocols. A group of X-Men known as the Five originally established the Resurrection Protocols as a way to bring back mutants who died before their time. The process has very specific rules, and involves the deceased being regrown inside giant golden eggs. Think of it like a video game, where a team has respawns after they die. The Resurrection Protocols were one of the reasons Druig had the Eternals launch a war against mutantkind.

Unfortunately the mutants of Krakoa are running low on eggs, which means they can only revive a limited number of heroes. A.X.E.: Judgment Day #5 concludes with Nightcrawler telling his teammates that Steve Rogers is the hero they need right now. The final splash page is Captain America’s arm triumphantly bursting through the egg as he holds his mighty shield.

What’s next for the Judgment Day crossover?

Captain America’s revival via egg will be a big help, but since Progenitor killed him in one shot before, we’re not sure how much of a chance the Avenger has during his rematch. With a limited number of eggs left, Captain America and his allies need to be cautious as they plan their next move.

A.X.E.: Judgment Day #6 is on sale October 26, with the solicitation calling it “the apocalyptic finale of the event of the year.” While there’s little doubt the heroes of the Marvel Universe will prevail, the question is how much damage will Progenitor do before the dust settles?

Why Judgment Day's narrative feints are the best thing about it .

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About the Author
Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Contributing writer

Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.