Review: ‘AXE: Judgment Day’ #1 Has The Right Attitude In Event Comics
by Tony Thornley
Three of the Marvel Universe’s greatest groups go to war in AXE: Judgment Day #1. Can this event succeed where others have fallen short?
Created by Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles, this issue kicks off the next six months of event comics storytelling.
The X-Men have hit a public low. The news of their immortality has humanity showing them hate at a level they haven’t seen in years. While they struggle with that, a new threat is rising- Druig of the Eternals. His first goal as Prime Eternal? Correcting the excess deviation that is mutantkind. And it seems nothing the Avengers or X-Men can do will stop him.
Remember about a decade ago, when Marvel decided to make the Inhumans a thing coming out of the Infinity event? The characters deserved additional prominence, but the only character who really stuck was Kamala Khan. This story, including the groundwork Gillen already laid in Eternals leading up to it, feels like the Inhumans push, but with a more organic and natural integration to the Marvel Universe.
That means that this doesn’t feel forced or overwrought. The Eternals are a very real threat to mutantkind, and Gillen shows that as the Jack of Knives tears through Krakoa. It’s more than an action comic though, as he is able to depict Wolverine’s desperation and Cyclops and Jean’s sorrow as they grapple with the events unfolding around them. The escalations at the end of the issue- with Uranos and the Hex- are breathtaking, showing how bad this is going to get for all sides.
Schiti and Gracia are artistic masters at this point. Schiti’s linework is always dynamic, but in the ways that fit the scene best. In the opening of the issue, when Jean is grappling with the psychic backlash of humanity’s renewed hatred, he shows her pain, and how she draws inward. Jean’s greatest power is actually empathy, and Schiti shows that in these panels. Later in the issue though, he makes the action sequences pop off the page, and the two massive escalations I referred to seem stunning in their own ways.
Gracia is able to elevate any artistic partner to a stunning apex, and when it’s as good as Schiti already is, that’s excellent. This issue is a good example of his use of light. Look at the debut of the Hex, and how he makes kaiju sized Eternals seem even grander by how he surrounds them in light and color. It’s a gorgeous issue.
Major callout to Cowles is deserved as well. This is a busy issue, and he’s able to set the script apart. He also does some great things with the narration, taking Gillen’s Eternals narrator- the World- and creating a counterpoint (which I won’t spoil) and giving them an exceptional personality just through the dialogue boxes.
I’m not going to use cliche like “this is event comics done right” or anything like that. This is, however, an exceptionally well done event comic, with a lot of set-up that still feels like an organic story. This is what you should pick up if there’s only one comic you can read this week.
AXE: Judgment Day #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.
The latest Marvel event kicks off in a grand way, with some exciting and scary moments. The art is incredible and the story is strong. This is an event comic worth picking up.