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What A.X.E. Judgment Day means for the Marvel Universe

The Day after Judgment: five theories on the future of Marvel Comics

Judgment Day is Marvel's 2022 summer event.
Image credit: Marvel Comics

A.X.E. Judgment Day is one of Marvel's best summer events in years, with Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia and Clayton Cowles bringing out the Eternals vs. X-Men war to the sovereign mutant nation of Krakoa. Like most of Marvel's best events, Judgment Day spirals out of very good proceeding runs by the series writer, in this case, Gillen's work on Eternals (with artist Esad Ribic) and the ongoing Immortal X-Men (with artist Lucas Werneck).

Now, every Marvel Comics event promises status-quo rupturing outcomes, with those promises holding various degrees of validity. Nonetheless, at the halfway point, A.X.E. Judgment Day offers some potentially fascinating shake-ups for the Marvel Universe, which is of course excellent fodder for wild and unsubstantiated theorizing! How will the Marvel Universe be forever changed? Read on to (possibly) find out!

Spoiler Warning: Please note some spoilers for A.X.E. Judgment Day #1 to #4 follow.

Apocalypse in House of X #5 by Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Did Somebody Say Apocalypse?

Honestly, what kind of Judgment Day would it be without the presence of En-Sabah-Nur (semi-recently relocated with his family to the dimension of Amenth following the X of Swords X-Men crossover event)? One of Druig's first moves in his war on mutants was to release Uranos (grandfather to Thanos) on Planet Arakko, unleashing mass devastation on the mutant capital of the Sol System. These Arakki mutants came from Amenth and are the people of Apocalypse, his wife Genesis, and their children, Apocalypse's first horsemen. I don't know what the Wi-Fi is like in Amenth, but if Apocalypse gets word of the destruction of the Arakki, it stands to reason we could see his return by event's end.

On top of that, no mutant has closer connections to the Celestials than Apocalypse, who has wielded Celestial technology as his own for centuries and who has his own plans for what to do when the Celestials come to judge Earth (wildly enough this happens during Incredible Hulk #455 to #457, aka that time Apocalypse made Hulk his War). To be honest, a whole event featuring a baby Celestial judging planet Earth without Apocalypse would honestly be quite odd!

Warlord Kro fights alongside Cyclops on Esad Ribic's cover of A.X.E.: Death to the Mutants #2
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Deviants Among Us

Newly appointed Eternal-Prime, Druig, uses the Eternals mandate to correct excess deviation as his rationale for invading Krakoa. Given that this same mandate has been used by the Eternals through the eons to generally harang and murder The Deviants, it was not especially hard to predict Marvel's Deviants and Mutants would form an alliance. What was less certain was that Druig might actually be on to something in connecting The Deviants and Mutants. This seems to be the case given that Deviants can use Krakoan gateways; an ability previously only attributed to those with the X-gene not named Kate Pryde.

Now, I'm choosing to interpret these connections as the mutants finding some long-lost cousins (rather than a more ham-fisted retcon that makes Mutants a thing of the past), which honestly plays quite nicely with the third law of Krakoa: 'Make More Mutants.' While the initial legal interpretations led to all sorts of orgiastic fantasy, the most significant expansion of mutant alliances has come from adding allies that already exist to their ranks (a la Arakko). I expect moving forward, Warlord Kro and the Deviants of Lemuria will follow suit, and that Deviant's use of the gateway will pay off in one more crucial way: access to Krakoan resurrection! Long live the Deviants!

Ikaris on the cover of Eternals #1 by Esad Ribic
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Death To Eternal Eternals

The major revelation of Gillen and Ribic's first Eternals arc was that it costs a human life (seemingly chosen at random) for Eternals to resurrect via their Machine. This dark secret has a particularly strong impact on Ikaris, who has subsequently spent most of his time rolling with Deviants, helping the X-Men, and tagging "Death to Eternals" on walls. The problem with delivering actual death to Eternals, though, is that whole killing humans thing. It's a vicious cycle.

I anticipate Judgment Day will provide the answers for the Eternals to break this cycle, as well as the three Asimovian dictates that tie them to Celestial mandates. Specifically, Gillen has given voice to the 'Machine,' a sentient manifestation of the earth responsible for resurrecting Eternals. The Machine will undergo its own Celestial judgment, and perhaps in the process, be destroyed and reborn as something new, leading to a dramatic new status quo for the Eternals. Free from the Celestials, who do the Eternals become? In keeping with the future of the MCU, I'm turning my eyes to Marvel Cosmic, taking the Eternals off Earth and onto their own cosmic habitat.

Magneto in X-Men Red #5, art by Stefano Casselli and Federico Blee
Image credit: Marvel Comics

The Death of The Death of Death

Uranos's assault on Arakko led to the death of many Arakki mutants, and Krakoan mainstays like Abigail Brand. Most notably, though, Uranos's attack left Magneto without a heart, and although the master of magnetism was able to keep the iron in his blood pumping long enough to get revenge in A.X.E. Judgment Day #4, it appears we're looking at the death of Magneto.

Now, one of writer Jonathan Hickman's most successful ideas in 2019's House of X / Powers of X is to gift Krakoa with resurrection for mutants, taking away the sting of death to a hunted people, and the repetition of 'death of' sagas in superhero narratives. Recently in Al Ewing's X-Men Red, though, Magneto forswore the promise of mutant resurrection in order to accommodate the cultural expectations of joining the Great Ring of Arakko. Magneto (and Storm) even had their Cerebro backups destroyed as a gesture of their seriousness.

Technically, it is still conceivable that Magneto could be resurrected through the Elysium Fields his once-and-future daughter, the Scarlet Witch, created in Trial of Magneto. Regardless, this would clearly counter his wishes, and Krakoa is in store for their first real death of this era. This being comics, we'll see Magneto again, but I expect it won't be for some time. Considering Magneto is a hero and savior to many mutants, Eternals-animosity will likely continue long after Judgment Day ends. Wanda Maximoff may have been replaced as Krakoa's Great Pretender with a new enemy number one: Druig, the Eternal Enemy.

Teaser text for Marvel Comics' Sins of Sinister
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Sinister Schemes

Two things are true: 1) Makkari and Ajak kidnapped Mr. Sinister in order to use his knowledge of Celestials to build their own 2) In 2023, X-Men comics will launch into a mysterious event/era known as the Sins of Sinister. These facts don't feel unrelated.

In the pages of Immortal X-Men, Gillen and Werneck set up a Moira MacTaggert clone farm that Mister Sinister is using to channel Moira's mutant gift of resurrection into data-gathering about future outcomes. So we know it's completely possible that Mr. Sinister can calmly sit through the events of Judgment Day, then reset the timeline, and use what he's learned to guide Judgment Day to an outcome he finds more satisfying. In fact, there's no reason to believe that isn't already happening right now.

I expect the Progenitor (the Celestial built by Eternals, Sinister, and Tony Stark, which immediately turned around and decided to judge all of humanity within 24 hours) is controlled by Sinister, and doing exactly the kind of judgment the former Nathaniel Essex would do himself. All of which is setting up Sinister to position himself as Earth's savior, and drive the Marvel Universe straight into the Sins of Sinister!

After the Rapture

Despite the current state of things, the Marvel Universe has a knack for avoiding the annihilation of life on Earth. I anticipate some likely mutant saviors, Apocalypse and Mister Sinister, to join forces with guilt-ridden Eternals to restore Arakki and human populations when all is said and done. While the heroes may avoid the Progenitor's eradication, the memories will linger, and the impact will be newfound fame, fortune and freedom for those who saved them (however Sinister they may be). Marvel's next crossovers are already on the horizon in Dark Web and Sins of Sinister, but Judgment Day will push us into their arms.

As Marvel's Judgment Day continues, let's look back at the Justice League's early 1990s story of the same name

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Dave Buesing avatar
Dave Buesing: Dave is the founder & editor-in-chief of Comic Book Herald, dedicated to helping all kinds of readers enjoy comics. He hosts Krakin' Krakoa on Youtube, and a Marvel reading club podcast called My Marvelous Year. He's written about comics for CBR, Ranker, and unsolicited text exchanges with his wife. Dave was the only kid in his elementary school wearing a homemade Nightcrawler costume for Halloween, and can be seen most evenings in Batman pajama pants.
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