Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Judgment Day Reading Order

As with past reading orders, my methodology is that the main event series is the ultimate guide for the reading order. Next come any tie-is written by the writer of the event, followed by the rest using my best judgment. In a few sections, the specific reading order does not matter as tertiary tie-ins often can be shuffled around with little to no impact. In those cases, the order that I have here is simple personal preference/instinct. This is just my personal guide and it may change over rereads. Comments are added to clarify choices with as few plot details mentioned specifically, so, if you haven’t read the event, you won’t have anything spoiled if you wish to use this guide for your first time reading it.

I have added a new feature to this reading order in the formatting. Bold means main event series, underlined means tie-in written by Kieron Gillen, and italics means tie-in that I think fairly important/essential. This gives you four levels of reading the entire event: just the main series, just the Gillen stuff, just the stuff I think is good/important/essential, and the entire event including all of the tie-ins. That italics group is entirely my own taste/judgment and you may not agree.

While not completely essential, before we even get into Judgment Day, I truly would advise reading Eternals and the first three issues of Immortal X-Men. Eternals #1-12 along with the specials, in particular, inform Judgment Day. The event basically began as the third storyarc of that title after all. The Immortal X-Men issues are less essential, but they’re quite good. Mostly, you should read all of these comics before reading the event because they are good comics.

* Free Comic Book Day 2022: Avengers/X-Men #1, X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1, and Immortal X-Men #4. These all set up different elements of Judgment Day. The FCBD stuff that really ‘matters’ is mostly repeated in Eve of Judgment, while the two X-Men comics are nice background on what’s going on with the mutants right before the event starts.

* AXE: Eve of Judgment #1. The proper prologue to the event that gets listed on the official checklist.

* Judgment Day #1

* Immortal X-Men #5 and X-Men Red #5: Both issues expand upon scenes in Judgment Day #1, but Gillen wrote Immortal X-Men, so it comes first.

* Judgment Day #2

* Death to the Mutants #1 and X-Men #13: Expansions on Judgment Day #2 and Gillen gets priority. But, I genuinely think X-Men #13 works better after reading Death to the Mutants.

* Judgment Day #3

* Death to the Mutants #2 and Immortal X-Men #6: I find that Death to the Mutants #2 is a little more related to/expands upon the events of Judgment Day #3 and would suggest reading it prior to Immortal X-Men #6.

* X-Men #14, X-Force #30, Wolverine #24, X-Force #31, Wolverine #25, X-Force #32-33, Avengers #60, Amazing Spider-Man #10, Fantastic Four #47-48, AXE: Iron Fist #1, and Captain Marvel #42: For this bunch of judgment-related tie-ins, the order does not matter really, except in the case of the X-Force and Wolverine issues. You can shift that chunk of six issues wherever you like in this group, but I would recommend keeping them in the order that I have here. X-Men #14 is a borderline important issue as the final three pages are referenced later on in the event, but the rest of the issue is completely unrelated. However, I wouldn’t call the reference essential or something that isn’t explained enough later on to warrant putting that issue in italics.

* X-Men Red #6: This issue leads directly into Judgment Day #4 and is best read right before it.

* Judgment Day #4

* X-Men Red #7, Legion of X #6 and Marauders #6: X-Men Red #7 is a nice expansion on the Storm/Magneto scene from Judgment Day #4 and, then, largely unrelated to the event anymore. Despite Legion of X #6 expanding upon a moment in X-Men Red #5 (which expanded upon a moment in Judgment Day #1), it ultimately takes place after Judgment Day #4, covering a lot of ground. The Marauders issue was released fairly early in the event, but takes place around the effort to reopen the Arakko gate, so it seems best placed here.

* Judgment Day #5

* Immortal X-Men #7, Death to the Mutants #3, and AXE: Starfox #1: The ‘outside the Progenitor’ tie-ins between the final two issues. This order is based on Gillen’s advice for reading them. Who am I to disagree? (Especially when I don’t.)

* AXE: Avengers #1, AXE: X-Men #1, and AXE: Eternals #1: The ‘inside the Progenitor’ tie-ins between the final two issues. These three issues are more directly related to the resolution of the event in the final issue and seem better suited to read right before it.

* Judgment Day #6

* Judgment Day Omega #1: The epilogue to the event and Eternals.

Hopefully, this is a help to anyone looking to make sense of how to read the event and its various tie-ins.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Them Guys Ain’t Dumb 15 (Judgment Day Omega #1)

“Who are the heroes here?”

In the end, it might just be a small group of Eternals. The Lemurian Eternals who, at the end of the first storyarc of the Kieron Gillen/Esad Ribic run, split themselves off from the rest of Eternals society, so disgusted at the knowledge that their eternal life comes at the price of one human life every time The Machine (Earth) resurrects them. That divide has been increased since Sersi revealed this secret to the world and was killed for it – the first Eternal truly killed, never to be brought back; paired with the transformation of Ajak into Ajak Celestia, a new attempt at a god for the Eternals, it has allowed a new path for these Eternals. No longer just outcasts, they are now heretics.

Judgment Day Omega moves in two directions at once. On the one hand, it returns to the status quo of Zuras as Prime Eternal and Eternals society falling into its old routines of quiet background overview of Earth. There are minor changes in their relationships with humans, mutants, and Deviants, but, in general, the concept of Eternal has returned to what it was in Eternals #1. There is lip service towards change, but... how much can a society that has never changed truly change itself? On the other hand, there is the splinter group that fall under the guidance of Ajak Celestia. A new Eternals religion that offer a different interpretation of the Four Principles and seeks to make amends for the Eternals’ crimes against humanity one good deed at a time. Eternal lifetimes dedicated to service. But, for a society that has always had its factions, is one more a true change? Are these acts of servitude different from before? Ikaris posing as a human is how we first met him, after all... has there been change or is this just a variation on a very old, very Eternal theme? Are they heroes? Have they always been?

Less an epilogue to Judgment Day than an epilogue to Gillen’s Eternals run as whole, Judgment Day Omega #1 focuses on the core cast of Eternals and setting them in place within their ‘new’ status quo after the event. This is basically Eternals #17 after Eve of Judgment #1 and Death to the Mutants #1-3 were issues 13-16, and the Starfox issue was this group’s one-shot special. Separating Judgment Day from Eternals is a tough bit of business given that the event rose out of Gillen’s plans for the next story in that run. But, that’s the way it is with these events (or the goods ones, I find): they rise up out of existing titles and, then, flow right into what comes next. Except, unlike a lot of events, there isn’t really a what comes next here as Eternals is done. Gillen is full time X-Men at Marvel (as far as we know) and there has been no announcement for a new Eternals series by a new creative team. Usually, these Omega epilogue issues are part wrap-up, part teaser for the next comic you need to buy – or, honestly, the three or four different comics you need to buy. Here, there may be a “Next” page at the back that points readers in the direction of Avengers Assemble Alpha #1, Immortal X-Men #9, and X-Men Red #9, but none of those comics get a lead-in in the Omega issue proper. It would be overly dramatic to declare this issue a dead end as there is no such thing in corporate superhero comics.


This is an end. And that is incredibly unusual for an event.

There is a specific structure to events, especially for Marvel. It’s a structure perfected in the period of Brian Michael Bendis writing the Avengers titles: status quo leads into event leads into new status quo leads into event leads into new status quo and so on forever and ever amen. You read the monthly comics and they got you hyped for the event, so you read the event, and it ended with a dramatic change that affected the month comics, so you read them, and they got you hyped for the next event. As such, events could wind up feeling very unsatisfying by the time you reached the end as, instead of an end to the story you were reading, you were greeted by a sales pitch for what you needed to read next. And this has largely been the structure of their events ever since. Even events tied specifically to one monthly book like War of the Realms still ended in a way that said “And now you should read the end of Jason Aaron’s time on Thor along with the new Loki and Valkyrie series!”

What I was left with when I finished this issue is a desire to skip ahead a hundred, two hundred, five hundred, a thousand years. This issue is the beginning of “Acts of the Apostles” after Judgment Day’s gospels. A new religion has begun, a splinter of society has broken away, and the heretics are tolerated until they get in the way. An interesting concept, yes – but the real meat is further down the road when the novelty becomes entrenched and we can see if this is cult or religion. Part of me is upset that Gillen isn’t sticking around to develop that; part of me knows that it probably wouldn’t get the chance to develop enough. This is still a superhero comic after all. It may have begun as something a little different when Jack Kirby wrote and drew the first issue, but even he couldn’t keep it from becoming more and more like everything else on the shelf – and, then, after he left it behind, he couldn’t stop it from literally becoming part of the rest of the Marvel story. So, we get an ending.

Again, I’ll state: there is no next for the Eternals that we have been told of. There is no sales pitch in this issue. It is simply the end of the story with elements in place for someone to pick up later. Or not. Who knows. It’s not that they don’t want our money as is the usual driving point of these events and the purpose of the cycle I mentioned above, it’s that there are no Eternals stories to buy next.

Finally, an event that ends with nothing for money instead of the other way around.

(Next: my Judgment Day reading order post, unless Immortal X-Men #8 warrants a post as another epilogue to the event, one that actually encourages the reader to keep buying more comics. If so, I will do that first and, then, sometime after, the reading order post will go up. And, then, be on the look out for the continuation of these posts in January 2023 in a new series on the Sins of Sinister story. That will begin after Immortal X-Men #10 comes out where I will write about it and issue nine together as the prologue issues. Thanks for reading these, hope to see you again for what comes next.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Them Guys Ain’t Dumb 14 (Judgment Day #6)

It’s hard sometimes to remember where Jack Kirby’s Eternals ended and where the Marvel Universe Eternals began. Less than a year after Kirby’s series ended, Roy Thomas brought the characters into Marvel’s continuity via a Thor annual. From that point on, Thomas and a variety of writers integrated the Eternals, Deviants, and Celestials into the very core of Marvel’s history. Most people who are aware of those characters probably have never read Kirby’s original comics, especially now thanks to the Eternals movie (which owes shockingly little to Kirby’s comics). I’ve thought about the distinction between Kirby and what came after quite a bit since Kieran Gillen and Esad Ribic began their Eternals run, one that added and clarified and refined quite a bit about the Eternals, alluding back to Kirby’s original vision seldomly, but still seeking to somehow honour it while bringing to fore what makes his creations distinct from every other superhero.

In Kirby’s Eternals series, the idea of the Eternals and Deviants as enemies is shunted to the side fairly quickly. When the series begins, there is animosity in the cold war state that the two sides share, and that is put aside as the Celestials return to the Earth as the Fourth Host. Under Arishem’s watchful eye, the people of Earth have 50 years before judgment will be rendered on their survival. Immediately, Eternals, Deviants, and humans begin to shift their focus as a core group representing each race works to bring them all together in harmony, theorising that that is the only way that they can possibly survive judgment. Before Eternals became something akin to ‘just another superhero book’ seemingly under editorial pressure, there’s a few issues where the hard work of cultural exchange and understanding is underway. A shared threat and a vague hope that peaceful harmony is all that will save them has three races take the first steps towards putting aside generational conflicts. A god that unifies rather than divides. Man, Kirby was a little nuts sometimes, am I right...?

Judgment Day is basically the same idea with a few twists: the addition of mutants as a fourth race despite an effort to conflate them with Deviants; the Celestial in question is created by Earthlings; the judgment is only a day; and we get to see the judgment and get a possible understanding of the criteria. In some ways, it’s possible to read Judgment Day as Kirby’s Eternals on fast forward – and with more death, destruction, and hitting.

That is to say that, before we get into things, I enjoyed Judgment Day quite a bit. In the broad strokes, it is very much an Eternals story with the X-Men and Avengers grafted on. But, like the greatest event writer of all time, Jim Starlin, the additions to the core plot are so well done that you don’t notice/mind that they are extraneous. You can quite clearly see how this began as an Eternals story and was expanded into an event and I would argue that that is partly what makes it great. Many events feel like stories that come out of nowhere and are forced upon the characters; this one grew out of a series to such an extent that it enveloped the others.

And I have a feeling that I will have a chance to touch on that particular idea in greater depth when the Omega issue comes out...


There’s a point about halfway through Judgment Day issue six where it felt like things had gone too far. Like so much had been done to stop the Progenitor from destroying the planet that it seemed like a foregone conclusion. Now, the Earth was not destroyed. In fact, everything was restored to before the judgment began and the Progenitor died, having never been created, in a sense. The entire issue hinges on that moment where the end seemed certain and, then, the day was saved. Since reading the issue, I’ve quietly been pondering that moment and if it actually works for me. That delicate balance of pushing things to the brink and, then, pulling them back... did Gillen pull it off?

In a structural way, yes. Three people speak to convince the Progenitor to stop killing the planet and restore things: Ajak, Jean Grey, and Tony Stark, in that order, which is the reverse order of the three one-shots that bridged the gap between issues five and six. That it was these three characters addressing the Progenitor feels organic given their central role in the one-shots leading to this issue – after all, why did Gillen choose to highlight those characters rather than, say, Wolverine or Sersi or Sinister?

More than that, each of them pose a question to the Progenitor that comes directly from their judgments in those issues. After the Celestial says that everyone deserves to die, Ajak agrees and asks “...but do you deserve to kill us?” while Jean Grey acknowledges that she destroyed a planet as the Phoenix: “Once you’ve done this, it’s done, and you have to live with it. Can you?” After the Progenitor begins to waver, Tony addresses its concern that it may be too late by telling to do what he does: “I get out of my depth? I try to make amends? What can you do? Do that!”

Three questions borne from the Progenitor’s judgment of these three people that turn everything around:

Is the Progenitor qualified to make this judgment?

If so, will the Progenitor be able to stand by that judgment after the sentence is complete?

If not, what can it do to stop?

Each question leads to the next and, in a sense, leads the Progenitor to sacrificing itself to put everything back. When I first read it, it seemed too elegant and smooth in how the scene moved from Ajak to Jean to Tony with the Progenitor seemingly swept up in the current. It’s like once Ajak asked her question, the Celestial’s will to act was undone with the other two moving it into a specific position. Intellectually, it made sense and is quite well done; emotionally, it left me cold and unsatisfied. But, that was then. Walking through it now, the elegance is still there, while the emotional core hits harder.

“Who are the heroes here?”

This is the scene that answers that question. (Or Immortal X-Men #7.) That was the question posed back in Judgment Day #1. It was the main question of the series. It was never about the justification of existence (even though it was). This is a superhero event comic. It was always about superheroes. Heroes aren’t the folks who always do the right thing necessarily. Here, the heroes are those that fall short of their moral codes and make mistakes, and keep going, trying to make amends, make things better. Ajak admits the god she created is an unworthy, flawed one; Jean admits that she killed a planet, will never be able to make amends, but will never stop trying; Tony knows that he fucks up again and again, but each new problem is a chance to come up with another solution; and the Progenitor realises that it is a flawed god, maybe not a god at all, unable to carry out its judgment, and, instead, gives its life to undo its mistake. It sacrifices itself to save the world.

Ajak fails the Progenitor – and it accepts that judgment. Based on the criteria we have seen until this point, the acceptance of that judgment is its specific point of failure. Up until that point, the Progenitor remained true to its moral code. It judged the people of Earth and found them unworthy of further existence. All efforts to stop its judgment failed or were about to fail. That feeling of inevitability that I spoke of was the Progenitor passing its own test. The words of Ajak, Jean, and Tony prompt it to second-guess itself and begin to waver. At that point, the Progenitor fails and becomes unworthy of living further. It narrates about not being a god and Gillen, wisely, refrains from stating something best left unsaid in the comic:

The Progenitor fails godhood by choosing to be a hero.

Despite its moral failings, it tries to save as many people possible and gives its life to do so. It does this despite the immense fear and shame it feels. It does this despite every natural instinct telling it that it should kill the planet and be done with all of this.

“Who are the heroes here?”

I’d argue that the Progenitor is one by the end.


At some point in this event, I kept thinking about “All Good Things...” the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. A double-length episode, it features three timelines where Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s conscious mind seems to jump between his bodies in each of these time periods: just before the first episode of the show, the current time in the series’s run, and a potential future. Near the end of the episode, the efforts of Picard to save humanity from a spatial anomaly that moves backwards through time, growing bigger the further into the past you go, seem to fail. Throughout the episode, he’s been helped/hindered/taunted by Q, a godlike being that Picard first encountered in the first episode of the series when he and members of his crew were put on trial for the crimes of humanity. At the end of that episode, it seemed like they had proven humanity’s worth despite Q returning throughout the series to torment/toy with them, Picard especially. When it seems like the efforts to stop the anomaly that will prevent life from Earth from beginning have failed, Picard finds himself in Q’s court, head in his hands, and Q talks to him. It becomes apparent that Picard managed to save humanity and says that he hopes that this is the last time he’s in this court, to which Q responds, “You just don’t get it, do you, Jean-Luc? The trial never ends.”

“The trial never ends.”

Those words just kept coming back to me when it became obvious that the judgment was still going on despite the Progenitor saying that it was finished and the planet will die. They were practically ringing in my ears as I read the final pages of this issue as the Progenitor narrated over Ajak Celestia greeting the dawn and holding her thumb in a position of judgment. Despite the event acting as the whole of Kirby’s Eternals in a condensed form, once again, the judgment of a god hangs over the planet. Be it Arishem, the Dreaming Celestial, the Progenitor, or, now, Ajak Celestia, the trial never ends.

It’s both a fitting way to end the event – and an honest one. Despite everything, little changes. Sersi is dead, Ajak is a god now, the Eternals are the new mutants in the hated and feared sense, the mutants have won a bit of goodwill but so have Orchis... there is progression, but, largely, much is the same now as it was when Judgment Day began. And that’s fine. It’s fine. Even the promo blurb for the Omega epilogue issue seems to get the joke: “After events, we make promises. ‘Nothing will ever be the same again.’ For the Eternals, it’s a lie. It’s always the same and always will be.” That could have been a larger statement about superhero universes. The details change; the larger concepts remain frozen in place. And, as I just said, that’s fine. That’s a feature not a bug.

The idea that an event has to change everything and leave every character in a brand new place is a misguided one. My favourite event, The Infinity Gauntlet, did the exact same thing that Judgment Day does. Almost everything is put back into place and the core characters that the writer is interested in are left in different places. That event killed half of the universe and, by the end, the only things that had really changed were Thanos was a farmer and Adam Warlock had the Infinity Gauntlet. This event killed most of the planet and, by the end, the only things that have really changed are Sersi is dead and Ajak is a god.

The important things are that it felt like it could change everything and that it was a good read.

That’s the way you do it.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Them Guys Ain’t Dumb 13 (X-Force #33)

This is it: the final Judgment Day tie-in. All that remains after this is the conclusion and the epilogue. So, naturally, the final page of X-Force #33 takes place quite explicitly after Judgment Day has ended. That brings the conversation around to spoilers. (I will give you a few paragraphs before I actually discuss the final page in detail, so, if you actually care, maybe get out now.)

At some point in an event, a tie-in spoils something. Not necessarily anything big, just something. The nature of these large, lumbering projects involve various office and editors and creator schedules means that, usually, some comic ships on time while another falls a little behind and something gets revealed a little too soon. It already happened in Judgment Day when AXE: Starfox #1 revealed the hard reboot of The Machine that happened in Death to the Mutants #3, which wound out coming out a week later. That was the rare “writer of the event spoils his own plot point” move. The spoiler on the final page of X-Force #33 seems more egregious, however.

Firstly, the Starfox/Death to the Mutants spoiler was of a relatively minor plot point. The reboot of The Machine matters, but is only a portion of the efforts to stop the Progenitor from destroying all life on Earth. Learning it a week early didn’t alter the reading experience too much. Additionally, for some readers that are more tuned in, Kieron Gillen warned folks both on Twitter and his newsletter that they may want to hold the Starfox issue back until after they had read Death to the Mutants. While that may have only reached a fraction of the affected audience, it was an effort to diminish any spoilers for those who would be bothered by them.

Secondly, depending on your expectations and views on these matters, the final page of X-Force #33 is a large spoiler in what it says/shows post-Judgment Day. Yet, I’d be lying if I said it was a surprising glimpse into the future. I’m torn on giving into my worst instincts and blowing this out of proportion as I’m wont to do when it comes to the ‘ethics of events’ (which would be the course I would teach if I taught courses on comics), and acknowledging that the substance of the spoiler is hardly surprising or anything that couldn’t be inferred from the solicitations for comics post-Judgment Day. You may have noticed that the Marvel Universe is still there and most comics are proceeding as if Judgment Day never happened. Yet, anything that shows some of the after effects of the event matters.

Thirdly, there was a decision made to release this comic, whose story has barely tied into Judgment Day at all, the week before the final issue of the event and show something from after its conclusion. I’m always fascinated by those choices. The entire thought process that went into deciding that this four-part story would be a Judgment Day tie-in at all has me incredibly interested. It wasn’t needed. There was a small thematic connection with Kraven and judgment – and taking place at the same time that the Eternals attacked Krakoa added a little bit of drama – though, the timeline is incredibly messed up in this story given the large overlap of Eternals attacking Krakoa and the stuff with the Progenitor’s judgment... looking back, I must admit that, despite the Celestial ordering the Eternals to stop attacking Krakoa, it seems like they resumed doing so at some point... or I misunderstood that the “Cease!” command was temporary (me misunderstand a comic...? Never!). Ultimately, Kraven finding a way to come to Krakoa to hunt mutants didn’t require Judgment Day and was not made better by the connection, so having this be the tie-in that jumps ahead to after the event is over is particularly galling. This has been my go-to example of a comic that slapped a banner on the cover in an effort to take money from people and I continue to stand by that assessment.

It’s not the fact that one of the after effects of Judgment Day was spoiled necessarily; it’s that this was the comic to do it. It’s like they took my $15.96 USD (more in Canada) under false pretenses and, then, ended the entire exercise by spitting in my coffee.

But, you may be wondering what that final page actually spoils. I’ve held it off long enough, so, if this is actually a major spoiler in your mind, you have only yourself and Benjamin Percy to blame.

On the final issue, Kraven has returned to the North Pole after surviving the destruction of the Shadow Room. Scarred and injured, he stands over Avengers Mountain, returned to the dead Celestial it was before the body was used to made the Progenitor. The key part of his narration is: “A god has fallen. And the Avengers are in the process of occupying its body like mites on a rotting whale. I had to return here, to the North Pole, to bear witness to this encouraging reminder. Everything dies. Everything.” Somehow, the Progenitor will be defeated and it will die, returning the body of the dead Celestial back to its original place, and the Avengers will resume using it as their base of operations. Not exactly shocking, somewhat surprising in how literally things do not change with regards to Avengers Mountain... but not shocking in the broad strokes.

I guess I’m left wondering how this happened and why anyone thought it was a good idea. The spoiler is arguably minor in the details. Why release it the week before the finale of the event? Why suck any air out of that room if you can avoid doing so? We just had issue 32 of X-Force last week, so there wasn’t a rush. This could have come out the same week as Judgment Day #6. If the concern was having nothing this past week, then, I don’t know, maybe shift a few of the nine tie-ins from last week to this week?

Look, I get it. I spend a lot of time talking about shit like this. Release schedules and how effectively tie-ins reflect the main series, and everything except the actual comics. I would love to discuss the actual comics (and I have) in place of the mechanics surrounding the roll out of the event. Except Marvel can’t get out of its own way. Choices are made that highlight these things. Someone decided that, yeah, let’s release nine tie-ins one week and then a single one the next week that spoils part of the end of the event. Someone decided that this story would have a few token Judgment Day elements grafted on and wind up being the series with the most tie-in issues despite barely having anything to do with the damn event. What, am I going to talk about fucking Omega Red and Deadpool like that has anything to do with what I’m writing about here? No, someone decided to slap a Judgment Day logo on this comic, stick it in the checklist, and get me to buy it because I decided to buy this entire event.

This has been one of the best events I’ve read in a long time when I’ve read comics written by Kieron Gillen, Al Ewing, and Si Spurrier. Thankfully, that makes up more than half of the entire event at 22 out of 37 comics (on the checklist – 59.5%, for the record). But, the other stuff has been solid to fun game to see how different interpretations of the Progenitor’s criteria works to insulting money grabs that cheapen the story the event is trying to tell and, quite frankly, the stories the creators are trying to tell. And those stick out like a sore thumb. And it detracts from the entire thing. It absolutely does.

But, it worked.

I gave them the money and they got what they wanted. As I’ve been saying since the beginning, them guys ain’t dumb.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Them Guys Ain’t Dumb 12 (Immortal X-Men #7, Death to the Mutants #3, AXE: Eternals #1, AXE: Iron Fist #1, Legion of X #6, Captain Marvel #42, Fantastic Four #48, Wolverine #25, and X-Force #32)

Somewhere during the reading of the three Judgment Day tie-ins that Kieron Gillen wrote and were released this week, I was stunned by the complexity of the narrative he is telling. It is absolutely stunning to see the various threads weave in and out of different comics, pulling together all of these characters. Most events have a variety of narrative threads that the writer must hold together, though I find that they’re usually left loose for others to pick up or cast aside when the time comes to focus on a specific, singular endpoint. Somehow, Gillen’s narrative for this event has grown more and more complex as it has gone on – and he hasn’t abandoned any elements, instead keeps adding new ones. I’m still trying to make sense of it all, to be honest.

Since issue five of Judgment Day, we’ve been fooled into thinking that this was a simple, straight forward story, as the tie-ins that take place after that issue focused entirely on the group inside the Progenitor, looking to shut it down. That’s a fairly simple and direct story. Last week also saw the addition of the Starfox one-shot, which didn’t seem like it was adding a lot to the larger narrative, more tying off a loose thread. This week’s issues put that interpretation into question by dramatically expanding the scope of what is occurring in the world outside of the Progenitor. I’ve contemplated trying to lay out the entire plot/put it into some sort of workable order and that seems tedious. It’s rather cool how much is just forming connections in your head based off what order you read the comics in and what stray lines you pick up on. More than past events, I think Judgment Day will reward rereading greatly.

Immortal X-Men #7 stunned me. It was not just the best comic of the event this week, it might stack up with one of my favourite Kieron Gillen-written comics. And it shouldn’t. If you look at it from afar, it is a frantic mess that covers a huge amount of plot ground in a manner that probably only makes complete sense if you’ve read the other comics it references/teleports into briefly. Yet, grounding it in Nightcrawler’s perspective – his determination and fierce humanity – adds a needed throughline to tie it all together. From a structural perspective, it’s fitting that this issue that jumps from Judgment Day #4 to Judgment Day #5 to Death to the Mutants #3, possibly all the way into Judgment Day #6 with stops in between is centred around a teleporter. It’s a nice bit of cohesiveness that you’d expect from Gillen the formalist; as Nightcrawler jumps from place to place, moment to moment, the issue similarly makes jumps.

Yet, what hit me harder was the dedication and determination of Kurt Wagner. If you didn’t think him a top-class superhero before, this is the issue that should push him near the top of your list. He is relentless in his efforts to propel himself and the rest of the planet towards survival – so much so that he dies. Again and again. And again. Oh, and, then, again and again and again. It’s tiring to see what he does in this issue – it’s inspiring that he somehow does it with optimism and joy. While there is an element of necessity to everything he does, that he has to do it or they will fail, there’s also a willingness that comes through; that, if there were several options for survival and him doing what he does was only one of them, he would be happy to volunteer. So big is his heart and his love for... everyone. That doesn’t always come out in happy-go-lucky quips. Sometimes, Nightcrawler is angry and brutal, yet it comes from a place of love and terror.

Part of me wants to give Gillen credit for not going heavy-handed with Kurt’s Catholicism. A lot of writers would be tempted, particularly in the way that Judgment Day is very much rooted in conceptions of a judgmental Old Testament-style God and Catholic guilt (the judgments are basically, do you feel guilty for betraying your own ideals?); instead, most of that is pushed aside as Kurt embodies his Christian ideals through his (seemingly) endless sacrifice. He offers up his life numerous times, putting himself in a position of total service for the good of his fellow people of Earth. And he inspires others, truly. His scene with Destiny stands out as a truly touching moment – and demonstrates the effect that a failing judgment has on some, as Destiny seems equally inspired by Kurt and her own failure/fear to proceed in crafting the plan to save the world.

Gillen wouldn’t have a chance of pulling this issue off without Lucas Werneck’s line art. Crisp and evocative, that art holds together the frantic pace of the issue, keeping things clear in time and space. I’ve enjoyed his art on Immortal X-Men to this point and this is the issue that cements his status as one of the best artists in comics. He draws one hell of a Nightcrawler, maintaining that needed look of joy and optimism that sells scenes and makes his words actually seem more than platitudes. The cheeky grin on his face as he falls to the ground with Destiny, followed by the warm smile as he extends his hand to her, offering to walk down the difficult path ahead with her... they’re different looks to convey different emotions and meanings despite being the same smiling face. Werneck shows the difficulty of Kurt’s sacrifices, his tireless work – and how close he is at times to breaking. The smile that never leaves his face in the final attempt to recruit Moira isn’t a show of optimism for anyone, it’s a deserved self-satisfaction with a plan that’s working and the hope that he genuinely feels for the future.

Kurt’s sacrifices and his religious faith in the future are contrasted with the sacrifices of Ikaris and Phastos in Death to the Mutants #3, and Ajak’s trial of faith in AXE: Eternals #1. While we see exactly why Sersi failed her judgment, the continued willingness of Ikaris to sacrifice for others, to try to be better hit me. Did he know that the Resurrection Engines were gone? Does it matter? While Phastos killed his friend to save his friend... it’s a key plot point and a small sacrifice, in a way. It’s also one of the more meaningful deaths I’ve come across in an event and, given the deaths we’ve seen so far, one of the few that may actually stick when all is said and done. The Machine has been our entry point throughout Gillen’s Eternals run, right up through Death to the Mutants and, by restarting The Machine, Phastos effectively kills that mind. The Machine lives on, but The Machine that we’ve known is gone.

The judgment of Ajak didn’t go how I thought it would. AXE: Eternals #1 is the final of three one-shots bridging the gap between issues five and six of Judgment Day, following the group that is inside the Progenitor. So far, we’ve seen Tony Stark pass judgment and realise that the trial didn’t actually end, while Jean Grey failed. In both cases, the judgment (as it has for the others written by Gillen) hinged upon how much they live up to their own morality, their own code of conduct. What are their ideals and their goals – do they actually stand by them or do they betray them? Do they feel guilt for lying to themselves? That is the only measure of objectivity that the Progenitor seems to possess and it’s been interesting to see it applied to different characters.

Just over halfway through the issue, the judgment hits a moment that should solidify how the rest of the issue (and judgment) plays out: Ajak, having killed every human whose life was taken to resurrect her, battles against the ghost of the Progenitor while justifying herself and her actions, ending by stating “I am many things, my god. But I am not a hypocrite.” The Progenitor-as-Makkari responds “Yes...” acknowledging that Ajak lives a life completely adhering to her personal beliefs, morals, goals, what have you. Unlike Makkari, she does not regret creating the Progenitor and, in adherence to her goals, she continues to seek to make it into the god that she believes it can and should be. By all rights, she should pass judgment.


It seems like the Progenitor is ready to fail Ajak, citing the consequences of her strict, fanatical faith. She created a god that will destroy everything, including her. Even it can see that that was a mistake and says, “There is faith... and there is too much faith.” To this point, the Progenitor didn’t judge the subjective morality of anyone, only how closely they lived up to their own closely held ideals. We know that the trial has not ended, that the Celestial still judges the planet, and that there is a larger plan in play that we don’t have the details of yet, so this could merely be an element of that – another deferral of judgment after we’ve seen it defer many before. Not at odds with that interpretation is that this is the beginning of the further growth of the Progenitor into the sort of god that Ajak believes it can become. It moves past its singular form of judgment to a more nuanced one when forced to finally judge its primary creator. This is a god that we know was created through an act of belief and that belief continues to shape it, mould it subtly and gradually. Thus far, this new god has been mostly viewed as a static creation, one set in stone – but some of its narration has suggested growth and change throughout the event – and few gods remain in a single place.

The primary question remains as we head towards issue six: what sort of god will the Progenitor be at the end of Judgment Day?


In this week’s glut of tie-ins, I found myself increasingly disappointed with the writers of them. The quality of the individual comics varied, but quality wasn’t what I found myself focusing on. No, what bothered me is how Kieron Gillen is the only writer to have the Progenitor fail a hero/protagonist of his comics. In fact, aside from one instance of a villain being failed in one tie-in, no writer explicitly failed any of their characters. To me, that’s a big failure to actively engage with this event in a truly meaningful way.

Let’s go back and look at the actual judgments, shall we? I’m skipping anything that didn’t have a definitive or deferred judgment or was written by Gillen, with one exception.

X-Men #14: Cyclops passes.

Avengers #60: Hawkeye passes.

Amazing Spider-Man #10: Spider-Man passes.

Fantastic Four #47-48: This is maybe the only contentious one as the end of issue 48 shows a thumbs up, possibly just for Reed Richards (it seems almost symbolic for the whole world, to be honest) and issue 47 has Reed narrate “So, if my family – my ordinary, extraordinary family – could be judged and come up wanting?” which could be read as either a hypothetical by Reed or a statement that the other three have already all failed. Given that the other three seem pretty unbothered by the whole Celestial judgment thing, treating it like any other world-ending threat, I’m interpreting it as they hadn’t yet received judgment and Reed was talking out his problem, proceeding on the idea that Earth would need to be saved from a being that could fail his family. The judgment at the end of issue 48 is also vague and not entirely consistent with the rest of the event. But, there are no definitive failures.

AXE: Iron Fist #1: Iron Fist and Loki both pass, while Iron Fist’s brother fails. We are not given enough context for Lin Feng’s failure. The two passes make sense as both characters show a lack of hypocrisy consistent with the judgments we’ve seen elsewhere, while the failure lacks any real context.

Captain Marvel #42: Captain Marvel, Lauri-Ell, and Chewie the cat all pass. This is a fine enough issue and has a bit of a clever conceit in following the cat around. The only moment that struck me as out of place with the event was when Chewie catches a mouse and the Progenitor-as-Carol following it around briefly gives it a thumbs down until it lets the mouse go.

Wolverine #24-25: Wolverine passes, other judgments are deferred/not shown.

Legion of X #6: Legion passes.

Marauders #6: We don’t know who passes or fails. Steve Orlando chose to engage with the process of healing and justification rather than the end result, which seems like a fair way to engage with the event. Although, Psylocke does explicitly get mentioned as passing, while Daiken theorises that he failed without it being confirmed.

The X-Men Red tie-ins featured no judgments except overlapping with Magneto’s passing in Judgment Day #4, while X-Force’s tie-ins haven’t had any judgments yet either, but still may next week.

Now, let’s contrast that with the various judgments that have occurred in Gillen’s titles:

Pass: Kro and the entire Deviant race, Phastos, Kitty Pryde, Thor, Ms. Marvel, Starbrand, Daniela, Dr. Doom, Jada, Miles Morales, Magneto, Ikaris, Iron Man, and (possibly) Ajak.

Fail: Captain America, Emma Frost, Destiny, Mystique, the Delphan Brothers, Makkari, Sally, Sebastian Shaw, Tom, Luke Cage, Katrina, Charles Xavier, Daredevil, Sersi, Eros/the world(?), and Jean Grey.

Plus many deferrals/non-judgments that also say something, I suppose. But, looking at those two lists, it’s a healthy mix of heroes, villains, civilians, and characters that feature heavily in the two regular titles that Gillen writes, Eternals and Immortal X-Men.

What makes the choices to pass all of the characters so frustrating is that the majority of the tie-ins by writers other than Gillen and Al Ewing take place between issues three and four of Judgment Day, focusing on that period of Celestial judgment. Some handle that judgment well, some less than well, some not at all... yet, overwhelmingly, whether the comic is good or bad, consistent with the Progenitor in Gillen’s books or not, the result is the same: everyone passes. We get one singular explicit failure of a character that’s meant to be the bad guy but lacks further context, one possible suggestion that three quarters of the Fantastic Four failed before maybe they all passed, and an issue that engages with the idea of the event by not delivering definitive judgments. There is a concerted effort throughout the tie-ins to engage with the Celestial judgment and the way that most use it is to blandly give a thumbs up to their characters. If you focus in on individual issues, the results seem justified and not a problem, but, taken as a whole, it points to the lack of editorial cohesion and overview that is needed to create a balance, unified event. The result, as a whole, is to further separate Gillen and his work from that of his peers – to further emphasis that, with a few exceptions, this event and its strengths are carried by him and his artistic collaborators with others either unwilling or unable to actually engage honestly with the true premise of the event.

How could no one want to tell the story of a character that fails and what that means aside from Gillen?

Soon after issue three, I had an idea that, at the end of the event, I’d go through and give every issue involved a pass/fail to see if the event, as a whole, passes. Since then, I’ve seen such a gulf expand between what Gillen and Ewing have been doing consistently throughout and what nearly every other writer involved has produced that it doesn’t seem fair. The event is a great one and happens to feature a host of bland, skippable tie-ins that add virtually nothing to it, like so many events of the past (and future). What tips things in favour of the good is that, along with the main series, Gillen wrote a large number of tie-ins, making it so he wrote nearly half of the total event himself. It’s easy to toss out the forgettable tie-ins when over half of the total event is incredibly high quality that actively adds to the story and themes.

If that sounds harsh, that’s because it’s meant to. Thanks to the quirks of scheduling, this week had nine Judgment Day tie-ins come out for a total of $37.91 USD (more in Canada!) and what became incredibly apparent is that, after reading the three written by Gillen and Legion of X #6, the remaining five were barely worth the time and money. I could have stopped there and gained the same amount of insight into Judgment Day as I did after reading the remaining five comics. More than half were completely skippable and... I don’t get it. I truly don’t understand the process that leads to this. Which is why I am dismissive and chalk it all up to efforts to get money for nothing, piggybacking off the event for a sales bump, and delivering little of consequence.

And I don’t mean in a plot sense. Legion of X #6 didn’t actually add a whole lot to the main event story. It mostly contributed some surrounding details for the plots of X-Men Red #5-7, which itself carved out a nice little slice of the main event for itself. These are comics whose primary focus is their own characters and advancing their own stories using the event and, in the process, manage to enrich and deepen the event. It’s not just “Hey, what happened on Arakko?” Legion of X #6 adds extra depth to the efforts of Nightcrawler in Immortal X-Men #7 without directly commenting upon them. The X-Men Red issues, yes, expand upon Uranos’s attack, but quickly sidestep that to focus on its own characters and the fallout of that attack, positioning Magneto and Storm into their position to act in Judgment Day #4 and, then, deal with those consequences. These comics engage with the event, both in how they can affect it, but also in how it affects them. X-Men Red, in particular, veers in an out of connecting actively with Judgment Day, almost like a line on a graph that moves towards, away, and overlaps with the mean. Marauders #6 also felt like a tie-in that tried to genuinely apply the ideas of Judgment Day to itself and how that could impact its characters and story going forward.

The other tie-ins took a superficial element of the story, did an issue or two featuring it, and it feels like it meant nothing. Not really. They were issue(s)-long versions of single panels from Judgment Day #4, except less consistent or intellectually curious.

And we still have one tie-in left to go before we get to the finale of this event.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Them Guys Ain’t Dumb 11 (AXE: X-Men #1, AXE: Starfox #1, and X-Men Red #7)

Why does Jean fail and Tony pass?

It’s actually not that complicated or difficult: because Tony is not a hypocrite. He’s an egotistical shit whose solutions constantly cause new and bigger problems, and he knows it. Does he regret some decisions he’s made? Yeah. Put in the same situation, would he do the same things again? Yeah. His goal, in moving forward, is to be better and be equipped to make better decisions that maybe won’t have as terrible of unintended consequences. He’s only as good as his current level of intelligence and store of information, and he knows it. He keeps building better machines to solve problems, hoping to build one good enough. It’s a little crazy; it’s also honest.

Jean fails because she is the Phoenix and she denies what the Phoenix is. She is content to use the power of the Phoenix for her purposes, while regretting the insatiable destructive power that comes with it. Once, she destroyed a whole world as the Phoenix and she’s been trying to make up for it ever since. She denies it was her... even though it was. She is the Phoenix, yet positions it as a separate being where, when she does something good with the power, it’s her, but, when she does something bad, it was the Phoenix. There is no acceptance of this other part of her; she is divided and she is a hypocrite.

The most important panel of Jean’s interaction with the Progenitor comes after she tries to argue that all of the good she has done, the worlds she has saved, must make up for the destruction of that one. The Progenitor says in response, “Your friends would have saved those worlds without you. And they have not burned any,” while her expression has the horror of realisation, drawn perfectly by Francesco Mobili and Frank Martin. It’s a harsh judgment and moment of clarity for Jean – yes, she’s done good with the X-Men, but she was never essential that good being accomplished by the X-Men. If they would have succeeded without her, did she actually accomplish any sort of penance?

Now, that the Celestial gives a specific answer to that question (no) doesn’t mean it’s the right answer. Obviously Kieron Gillen isn’t arrogant enough to think himself capable of solving complex moral quandaries like this – and, if he were, I’d hope he would put those skills to better use than superhero comics – the answer given is one that fits within the moral framework of the Progenitor. The problem isn’t that she can’t make up for destroying that world; the problem is that she tries. She thinks herself somehow above violence and killing, yet is bonded to an elemental cosmic force whose very nature is rooted in destruction and rebirth. The nature of the Phoenix is to destroy and she fights against that, regretting an act of largescale destruction, never investigating the other half of the equation.

Judgment Day is, as Dave Buesing (the proprietor of Comic Book Herald) tossed off on Twitter last week, a similar event to Original Sin. That was an event about revealing hidden truths, while this is one about revealing the hidden motives, goals, and contradictions of characters. Who is honest with themself about who they are, what they are doing, and why? Captain America thinks himself an inspiration for good upon a world power as it sinks further and further in decay and corruption, bringing the world down with it. Cyclops thinks himself the leader of the X-Men. Tony Stark thinks himself a genius problem solver who can’t escape creating new problems with his solution. Jean Grey thinks herself a loving, peaceful woman who is separate from the Phoenix.

“You are the Phoenix, now and forever.”

When the Progenitor says “justify yourself,” it means justify yourself to yourself while it shines a light on the truth. Who are you really, at your core, and can you justify that person to yourself and your self-image? That doesn’t mean the ‘real’ you is good or moral or worthy... it’s just the true version of yourself. Is the version of Jean Grey that tries to do good and ‘make up for’ the destruction of the Phoenix a good force in the world? It seems so. Would a version of her where she fully embraces the Phoenix be a good force in the world? There’s a definite possibility that it would not. That’s not what the Progenitor cares about. Is Jean Grey honest with herself about who she is as the Phoenix? No, she is not. So, she fails.

This approach to an event is different from what we’re used to. The death and destruction of the event so far is par for the course. The idea that ‘nothing will be the same’ is similarly the norm (though, as we all have access to post-Judgment Day solicitations, we know that to be the usual bit of fibbing... not that I’ve seen anyone actually promise that for this event now that I think about it). It is an event of revelation about these characters and where it goes from here is anyone’s guess. Will it change the characters moving forward? It doesn’t have to. Having your soul laid bare before a god and revealed a hypocrite may inspire change, though I’m not sure anyone would be surprised if it didn’t. For a lot of people, it may invoke a deep sense of shame that they do their best to ignore while they resume their normal lives. I’m sure there will be plot consequences from Judgment Day; I see the potential for character consequences that deeply affect some moving forward. The event is a brief moment of clarity to take a good look at these characters and who they are at their cores, and it will be interesting to see if any realign and change based on this.

AXE: Starfox #1 seeks to tackle this idea head-on. Eros spends the first half of the issue detailing his history (as he sees it) and he doesn’t seem to really know which version of himself is the ‘true’ one. I do think it’s telling that Gillen explicitly ignores Jim Starlin’s recent trilogy of graphic novels with Alan Davis and Mark Farmer where the creator of the character finally did something substantial with him. Starlin reframed Eros as a sociopath to complement Thanos the psychopath, dove into his somewhat solipsistic worldview and recast him as a ‘unique being’ ala Thanos and Adam Warlock. The trilogy also seemed to end with the complete, final death of Thanos, and has been pretty much ignored ever since. That the first large statement by Eros’s creator on who the character truly is has basically been deemed out of continuity and ignored is impossible to ignore within the context of this event.

Eros has not officially had judgment passed upon himself. Unofficially, it was his appeal to the Progenitor of the hope of change and needing more time that prompted the final judgment. “One day” is always in the future, some distant horizon, one that Gillen recasts as that endlessly elusive place for Eros to return to, a demonstration that his parents’ goals to create a new Eternal were worthwhile. Except, of course, by avoiding that fate, all he did was prove the opposite. Thanos was a genocidal maniac, while he was a “moderately successful adventurer.” Up until this point, that has been the real Eros. Here, he distinguishes between Eros and Starfox, like the latter was a role that Eros played when, if it’s who you’ve chosen to be for the majority of your life, is it a role? That he sees it as different, separate from himself is the hypocrisy teased out in this event. He wants to be something more and his actions have shown him doing that thing where a character is revamped by a clever writer and artist with an updated look, attitude, mindset, inventive use of powers... maybe it will stick. Maybe change is possible.

Reading the Eros in Judgment Day so far, I’ve yet to be convinced. Whether it’s Gillen not completely comfortable with the character in this new mould or if it’s a purposeful element of the character as he’s embracing a new delusion, I can’t say for certain yet. We haven’t seen enough of this ‘new’ Eros to know if it’s going to stick or not. His fight with Zuras has Eros arguing for change through a return to the status quo, which is certainly a fun idea to just toss out there. If the Eternals are to change and progress, then they need the same leader that they’ve had for millennia. It reads to me like a stall for time, which it very much is.

I read and reread AXE: Starfox #1 and I’m more and more convinced that we’re getting a preview of the self-delusion of those who are going to run from their true selves after this event. Eros is Starfox, a sociopathic moderately successful adventurer who found himself in a position where he needed to adapt to the most likely version of himself that could let him return to his true self. The freewheeling Starfox would never have gotten out of the Exclusion, so he invented a serious form of Eros that could appeal to the Eternals... one that turned out to be perfectly suited for the crisis at hand. The slick, charming sociopath is always there. It’s not a coincidence that Eros says he wants to inspire and the first failure we saw was Captain America for the very same self-view.

The more I think about it, the more I think that it seems like Gillen is ignoring Starlin’s recent interpretation of the character because Eros is ignoring it. When the Progenitor failed the people of Earth, it was a judgment of Eros – and by association, the people that chose to have him speak on their behalf, deluding themselves into thinking that Starfox could be their saviour.

That’s why the judgments continue...

Next: nine, count ‘em, nine Judgment Day tie-ins.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Them Guys Ain’t Dumb 10 (AXE: Avengers #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #10)

Another tie-in written by a writer not named Kieron Gillen and yet another variation on the Progenitor’s judgment process. As we continue further into Judgment Day and the inclusion of comics by folks other than Gillen, we’re seeing that few of them adhere to the style of judgment we’ve seen in both the main series and the tie-ins by Gillen, generally. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re departing from Gillen or his ideas of what the Celestial judgments are like. That each writer has, so far, done something different suggests that there are no set in stone specific guidelines for the judgments.

This week, Zeb Wells’s version of the judgment in Amazing Spider-Man #10 is both good and bad. The good is that a silent embodiment of the Progenitor following Peter Parker around all day is quite fitting for the character. It’s the personification of the guilt that he walks around with all of the time that drives him to be better and do the right thing. You can question the form taken by the Progenitor (as Tegan O’Neil pointed out on Twitter, Peter coming to grips with the ghost of Gwen Stacy has been so overdone that it’s virtually meaningless, particularly when an alternate reality version of the character is a frequent supporting player in his life), but the way it plays out actually ties into the idea that each judgment is tailor-made to the person being judged – and the criteria often seems self-imposed. So, Peter walking around all day face to face with his own guilt as it silently judges him just works for me.

Where Wells goes off track is in the application of this form to all of the characters we see throughout Peter’s day. In the case of Kamala, it actively contradicts her judgment in Judgment Day #4 (one of the rare factual contradictions in the event thus far). The application of that guilt that hangs over a person’s head applied to everyone is interesting conceptually, yet out of place within the framework of the event (as much as it is about guilt). Quite frankly, it lessens Peter’s judgment for us when we see others having identical versions. The point is that he is this person so wrapped up in guilt and carrying the weight of the world around that this is the only way that the Progenitor could judge him.

Taken in isolation, I’m tempted to say that the revelation that May finds comfort in the Progenitor taking the form of Ben. It’s a sweet moment – which is its purpose in this specific comic. Within the framework of the event, it falls apart a little. While the Progenitor’s judgment has brought relief to some like the Deviants, we’ve also seen (or told) Kitty Pryde pass and face lingering effects from the experience. Even when you pass, the experience can be incredibly unnerving to be judged by a god-like being. That everyone’s judgment is unique and different makes it difficult to definitively point at that moment and shout “Wrong!” All I can really offer is that is another example of a writer choosing what works for their comic over what works for the event as a whole, a choice that’s hard to criticise too harshly, particularly when it’s a fairly minor detail.

(One scene that I struggled with and has no impact on the event is the J. Jonah Jameson one where he’s a panicked guilt-stricken man trying to frantically make amends before he is judged/the world ends. I get the scene and the reason it’s here... it doesn’t ring true, for me. I have no doubt that JJJ feels guilt over certain things he did; I doubt that he would act like this to avoid judgment. I find it far more likely that he would double down and try to justify his actions and the reasons for them even while acknowledging that he regrets doing them. But, like I said, that’s a personal view of the character and... well, he did it in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man published by Marvel, so I’m factually in the wrong there. I can’t really say he wouldn’t do that, because he did, officially. Doesn’t mean I have to like it...)

The two issues this week feature judgments of characters who are far harder on themselves than anyone else would ever be. Both Peter Parker and Tony Stark walk around trying to be better because they think they’ve failed so much. I’d argue that Tony’s view of himself is a little (lot) more justified than Peter’s. AXE: Avengers #1 gives a fairly convincing case for why Tony Stark is a piece of shit, pulling in as many nasty details from his past as possible to point out how consistently he’s failed or done the wrong thing despite good intentions. But, like Peter, he keeps going and keeps trying to make things better. I’m not sure that I completely agree with that final thumbs up, though there are different ways to view a person who keeps fucking up yet doesn’t give up. At first, the Progenitor implies that the problem is that Tony never actually changes his methodology and winds up making the same mistakes; but, later, the emphasis is on the fact that he doesn’t give up. It’s hard to reconcile those two viewpoints.

What seems to make the biggest difference is that, if you asked Tony, he would say he failed. And then say that doesn’t matter, because the problem still exists and he’s going to do what he can to solve it. Tony is a man of science, which means trial and error. Science involves a lot of failure before you find success. As he says, he’s not the strongest... what does he bring to the table when it comes time to save the day? He brings his mind and his science. He can’t avoid getting it wrong, because, until he tries, he doesn’t know if it will work. The Progenitor was an effort to stop the war between the Eternals and the mutants of Krakoa and what’s been lost in the shuffle is this:

That plan worked.

The creation of the Progenitor stopped that war. Tony and company succeeded in their stated goal. Side effects and unintended consequences are a son of a bitch, though. That’s where Tony’s ‘failures’ usually come from: his successes. He solves problems and those solutions create new problems and, then, he solves those, too. He doesn’t give up.

And, for the record, the judgment that Tony goes through here is unlike others we’ve seen from Gillen previously. That could be because Tony is inside the Progenitor or because it’s different, there’s no set form. I’m curious to know what Gillen’s outline/guiding document actually says about these judgments given the variety we’ve seen so far – and the variety we’re bound to continue to see over the next two weeks.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Them Guys Ain’t Dumb 09 (Judgment Day #5, Avengers #60, and Fantastic Four #47)

I may be biased in stating that The Infinity Gauntlet #4 is the best single event issue of all time – it’s still true, though. If you’re not familiar with the issue by Jim Starlin, George Perez, Ron Lim, Josef Rubinstein, Bruce N. Solotoff, Max Scheele, Ian Laughlin, and Jack Morelli, it’s an issue of Thanos slaughtering the half of Earth’s heroes that weren’t snapped away in the first issue. To prove his worth to his love, Death, he puts aside some of his godly omniscience granted by the Infinity Gauntlet, and agrees to fight the attacking horde of heroes. It’s actually only 15 that Thanos kills (more like 13, really), but it feels like so many more. With heroes like Captain America, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Thor, and Iron Man amongst the group attacking Thanos, it feels like the entirety of Earth’s heroes mounting an assault and getting run through like they were nothing for 40 pages. Never before had a collection of heroes like this been so thoroughly beaten and killed. It was shocking in its brutality and finality. Much ado is made of the speech that Captain America makes as he stands alone against Thanos; less is made of Thanos absent-mindedly slapping his head around with minimal effort.

While not intended to replicate that famous comic, echoes of it appear throughout Judgment Day #5 by Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti, Marte Graci, and Clayton Cowles. On the sixth page, Captain America stands before the god determined to kill them all and makes a passionate speech as only he can, before that god kills him with minimal effort. Just as placing him in a riot is a sign of a world gone wrong, having Captain America tell off God before God kills him is a sign that everything and everyone is completely and thoroughly fucked. Gillen flips the order of events of The Infinity Gauntlet #4 by beginning with a god killing Captain America and, then, moving on to the wholesale quasi-ironic slaughter of the rest of the heroes.

Jim Starlin having Thanos kill all of Earth’s heroes with ease was shocking (and entertaining) – it was also about sending a message to readers about the scale of the story being told. Usually, the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four et al are equal to any task, on Earth or off. Here, though, they were out of their league, up against a cosmic threat on a scale well beyond their abilities. Starlin’s most famous creation could only really be stopped by a character that may as well have been a Starlin creation in Adam Warlock. In many ways, The Infinity Gauntlet was a story about Starlin drawing a line between his characters who operate on a higher cosmic level and the regular Marvel heroes who just aren’t able to hang.

That, of course, is not what Gillen is doing here (unless I’m way off and you can look for the Progenitor to be the secret member of a new Eternals team that is waging war on the Celestials so this can never happen again or something...?) and the allusions to The Infinity Gauntlet #4 are more for effect than anything. It’s hard not to read a little self-deprecation in the Progenitor narrating, “I try to kill creatively because to be a god is to be creative... but there are so many of you, and I admit that, occasionally, inspiration is elusive,” as it kills the heroes in as many different and inventive ways as Thanos once did. Starlin and company kept it up for most of the 40 pages that make up their comic; here, it’s roughly five or six pages total.

The Progenitor isn’t toying with its attackers like Thanos, it’s playing a role it seems. Informed by its creators, there’s almost a sense that it understands that, as far as the heroes are concerned, it is the big villain to defeat and it must allow them to attempt to do so. But, it also has no compunction about killing them immediately and doing so in as many fitting and ironic ways as possible. This Celestial, based in some ways on Tony Stark, is a victim of genre, unable to not play into its role as world-threatening cosmic monster. If the comic alludes to The Infinity Gauntlet, it’s because the Progenitor is playing into the role established by Thanos. At the end of Judgment Day #4, it seemed like, now that Earth has been judged and found wanting, it would be destroyed immediately. Instead, the Progenitor stands around in the same place as it has always stood... waiting... why?

The judgment has not ended.

The failure is part of the judgment; the overcoming of a cosmic threat to end all life on the planet is part of the judgment.

Maybe not in an explicit manner where the Progenitor, dying, will reveal that it was all part of the test. Maybe the Progenitor doesn’t even know what it’s doing entirely. Its narration has implied a lack of self-awareness at times where it knows enough to question its own actions but not enough to answer why. Some of the key heroes to overcoming the Progenitor are, so far, ones that failed, notably Destiny and Captain America. Perhaps, they have learned something from their judgment and failure... perhaps, overcoming those failures is a part of the judgment as well...

If The Infinity Gauntlet #4 was about proving that Earth’s heroes can’t stand against truly cosmic level threats, maybe Judgment Day #5 is about proving that they can.


“Laughed that [Mark] Russell has clearly not actually read Judgment Day[...]” – David Mann on Avengers #60

I actually go out of my way not to read anyone else’s thoughts on these comics usually in an effort to stay in my little bubble where it’s me and the comics and nothing else except the odd song. But, David posted some quick reviews of the books he’d read this week and, it was after I’d read my comics, so I thought “What the heck...” And, of course, it contains a fantastic prompt for this...

I don’t disagree with David’s tossed off assessment of this issue; I also don’t agree with it.

In Avengers #60, the Progenitor comes to Clint Barton in the form of the Black Widow and, instead of judging him immediately, tells him that he has the day to prove “where your life brings as much joy and meaning to the universe as that blue metal box.” The box in question is a mailbox. It is the first time the Progenitor makes an explicit challenge of its judgment. In that and how it plays out, David is correct: this doesn’t read like anything we’ve seen in Judgment Day to this point. I’m not convinced that that necessarily places it outside the event or as ‘invalid’ in some way.

Most of the judgments we’ve seen to this point have been written by Kieron Gillen. They tend to be brief and involve the decision already being made prior to the Progenitor making its presence known. It’s not necessarily an interactive process like we get in this comic. Yet, it’s not exclusively not an interactive process. Kro, for example, gets to plead his case and what he says seems to sway the Progenitor. In Judgment Day #4, we get hints that the Celestial creates pass/fail tests in some cases without the knowledge of the participants and judgment hinges on their performance in that specific instance.

What we’ve really seen is that the criteria that the Progenitor uses for each person tends to come from the judged. How well they measure up against their own standards. With that as a guidepost and Russell writing Clint within the Matt Fraction/David Aja mould, it is conceivable that his judgment would play out this way. Clint specifically criticises the Progenitor for having no objective benchmark in its judging – and you don’t get much more objective than a mailbox. It’s the sort of dopey gag criteria that Clint would come up with for himself; he doesn’t argue against it.

Even with that in mind, this issue stands out in the way that the judgment plays out over the course of the entire issue. In Gillen’s comics, judgments rarely last more than a few panels at most, while they haven’t come up too much in non-Gillen tie-ins. Cyclops was judged in X-Men #14 over a few pages and his talking back to the Celestial stands in contrast to what we’ve seen in Gillen’s scenes. While some almost-judgments happen in Wolverine #24. None have shown up in the two X-Force or X-Men Red issues to date, leaving only the other tie-in from this week, Fantastic Four #47 where we don’t see any judgments, only the allusion that the entire Fantastic Four has already failed.

In Marauders #6, I’d argue that we get the roleplay therapy versions of the judgments where the judged are given the opportunity to answer all charges with perfect self-awareness, ostensibly not showing us how the judgments actually played out. In fact, the pushing back against the Progenitor’s judgment is the largest hallmark of the non-Gillen issues. His judgments are usually taken as fait accompli, because the judged know that it’s the truth. If there’s a misreading that we’ve seen so far, it’s not adhering to that idea necessarily. There’s too much desire to show the characters standing up against this god-like figure, refusing to be judged in that way that humans always do in stories like this. That righteous defiance in the face of overwhelming power and inscrutable morality.

We also haven’t seen a number of non-Gillen tie-ins that seem like they will show judgments, like Wolverine #25, Amazing Spider-Man #10, AXE: Iron Fist #1, and Captain marvel #42. I’m curious to see if those or even the remaining two issues of X-Force or X-Men Red #7 show further judgments and how they compare to what we’ve seen from Gillen.

The only part of Avengers #60 that rang false, for me, was the ending. The Progenitor sends Clint a letter via the mailbox and it ends with these words: “There may not be any such thing as moral clarity, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow. And you have grown, which, apparently, a mailbox cannot do. So much judgment is that you pass. You will live. But we’ll be watching from time to time, Clint. So much advise is to act as if someone is always watching. Until you are wise enough to act as though no one is.” This flies completely in the face of Judgment Day issues four and five. It’s the exact opposite message that we get from the Progenitor at the end of issue four where the idea of growth and progress is dismissed, because it will never be enough. The promise of tomorrow’s success will always be put forth as an excuse for today’s failures. These final words prove David’s assessment as correct – or they’re foreshadowing the final issue of the event. Given Marvel’s history with tie-ins veering off and contradicting one another and the main series, I know where my money is placed.

Next week: AXE: Avengers #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #10.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Them Guys Ain’t Dumb 08 (X-Men Red #6 and Judgment Day #4)


Well I thought that we all cared

About peace

And I thought that we’d all cry

About love and loss

And I thought that we were somehow holding on

But I’m just standing here

—“Ballad of Humankindness”

The Dears



I don’t know when I realised that I never understood the Arakki people and their culture properly. I don’t believe that I’m alone in that, for the longest time, I thought of them as warlike and aggressive. Debuting in the X of Swords linewide X-Men event, the Arakki are a sort of lost tribe of mutants who ventured into another dimension to fight and unbeatable enemy, living under a code of survival of the fittest. They, at first, seemed to embody only the most literal meaning of that concept. Warriors who live only to fight where each victory means the whole is improved by the absence of the weak. And that’s not wrong; it’s also not true. I don’t know if they were ever meant to be a lot more than that or if they were simply meant to grow into more than that.

X-Men Red, written by Al Ewing, has expanded upon the Arakki culture on the new Arakko formerly known as Mars to suggest that they were always more than the most narrow definition of ‘survival of the fittest.’ Yes, they have a power structure rooted in physical conflict. But, they also have an openness and welcoming to all. Early in X-Men Red, the concept of ‘doors’ is dismissed as not in keeping with their culture. Or, as a NASA scientist puts it at the beginning of issue six, “But if someone’s not an enemy, they’re a friend. If you don’t come here to fight them, they don’t want to fight you.” Because there’s no logic in endless conflict. In fact, what we see from the Arakki is a desire to avoid conflict, finally. They have spent so much time in endless conflict, never ceasing warfare, that the chance to build something new and different is appealing.

There are many ways to prove yourself fit.

Not all Arakki are opposed to warfare or undesiring of it. Some conform to that initial view of them, and that only makes the culture richer. It would be false to reject that first impression as entirely untrue. By maintaining that idea that some Arakki are disdainful of outsiders and look only to fight to prove their worth, it gives a breadth of voices. Oddly, it’s that perspective’s lack that I miss in X-Men Red #6. The fools who would welcome the war that Uranos’s machines bring to the Sacred Land. A return to the ways that they know would be a comfort to some, even if when it means slaughter of fellow Arakki. Uranos and his machines would be another chance to prove one’s self fit.

Where are those Arakki?

Maybe they were the first to die.



You know things have gone to hell when Captain America stands in the middle of a riot. If you’ll recall, Fear Itself began that way. That was the big clue that All Was Not Right. When Judgment Day #4 starts with a riot and Cap trying to calm things before he’s overrun by rioters who begin attacking him, it’s shorthand for “Everyone is doomed. Humanity has failed the test.” If you need to know the end of the issue, you need only read the first two pages. I don’t know what Captain America ever really expects. I know that he hopes for better. He always hopes that people will be better this time. That they won’t give into their worst selves and panic and hate and hurt... but they always do. They always do. He keeps fighting the same fights and he keeps expecting them to stop, for people to be better. “He needs to believe the world is fundamentally a good place,” the Progenitor says. But, if it is a good place, why does it need him to inspire them to be better? If it were a good place, why would it need a Captain America?

He may need to believe that it is a good place, but does he actually believe it?

Sometimes, I think Captain America is like a drug. He doesn’t produce lasting change, only a temporary high where people can briefly go beyond their normal limits, do more, be better, save the world. And, then, it fades away and they go back to who they really are. “Avengers Assemble!” is nothing more than a superhero amphetamine to put down the bad guy. See, the problem is that he thinks what people need is a soldier to inspire them to be better.

He is the living embodiment of someone who fights and kills his problems away and he wonders why people keep fighting and killing. I mean, hey, he already failed the test and he’s still fighting, which is admirable, in a way. But, he’s also out there just barking orders and telling people what to do. He’s a man who keeps yelling “Be better!” and he never is. He’s always the same. What does he inspire by dressing in his soldier costume and throwing shields at people? By punching people in the face? You don’t back down from the bad guys – you put them on their ass. He rarely considers that there is no set definition for ‘bad guy.’

At the beginning of issue three, the Progenitor judges him under the guise of himself carrying his original shield, wrapped in the flag, and so optimistic of the future. A future where Hitler, the Nazis, and the Japanese are beaten, and America leads the world, living up to its promise finally. That Shining City on the Hill. And it did all of that. And things didn’t get better. But he keeps hoping. It’s that eternal hope that seems to doom him. Because he always hopes that things will be better, they never get better. “Why do today what can be done tomorrow?” If he really wanted to inspire change, he would change. He would be different, he would be something other than a soldier or a man who hits things, who barks orders, and expects people to fall in line, hoping that things will get better despite all evidence that they won’t.

There’s always hope, there’s always another chance, there’s always tomorrow...



Every time I think about what I can do

It just slips away

And every time I think that we can make things work well it

Just slips away



Is it meant to be obvious why Sersi fails? I feel rather obtuse for not seeing it. Sometimes I miss the obvious in these things. I also miss the cleverly hidden. I’m the sort of reader who will read a mystery novel and never try to solve it unless the solution is so obvious that it smacks you in the face. And even then. But, hey, let’s see if I can rise above myself a little...

“What have you done, Sersi?” Tony Stark asks before she shrugs off her judgment with a flip remark. What has she done?

Given what we know about the Progenitor and that it uses each person’s self-conception to judge them, I think it may have something to do with her actions to help create this new Celestial. Covered briefly in Judgment Day #2 and, then, in-depth in Death to the Mutants #1, she helped gain knowledge of the Celestials from their slaughter of the Deviants previously. She uses her powers to psychically take that “eyewitness testimony” and provide it to help construct this new god. Seeing exactly what her existing gods did, she first thinks “Our gods did this. The only gods we’ve ever known.” They killed their creations en masse. She sees what they are...

“And then she has two contradictory thoughts...

“‘Why would we make another?’

“‘How could we not try to make a better one?’”

These contradictions betray her hypocrisy. She sees what the Celestials are and she hopes that she and the others can make a better version of that using what scraps they can find of the Celestials. She contributes knowledge of their wrath and their ability to kill indiscriminately. How can she expect to create a better god using the worst actions of the old as a blueprint? She sees what the Celestials are and contributes that to the project! She hoped for something new and better, but didn’t think to change a thing! She has two contradictory thoughts and embraces them both at the same time, hoping it will all work out. If she stood by her convictions, she would have lost all of the data she gathered of the Celestials and tried to make a new, better one without the example of the old ones, seeing what her gods are at their worst. That’s why she doesn’t look surprised when she fails. Most don’t it seems. She looks sheepish and embarrassed, drawn so well by Valerio Schiti, already knowing that she failed in her convictions.

Just spitballing. I could be wrong.



Druig is not judged, that we see, in Judgment Day #4. Not specifically, at least, given that, at the end of the issue, the entire planet is judged and fails, which would include the former Prime Eternal. For some reason, I think Druig would pass judgment. Maybe it’s just my contrarian streak or my sense that Gillen sometimes shares that same proclivity (you don’t kick off moral judgments of Marvel characters by having Captain America fail without enjoying going against the grain a little bit) that makes me think that. He seems true to himself throughout the event so far, which is that he does everything to hold and secure his position that he can think to do. He seeks to unite the Eternals under his strong rule, so he seeks out a war against a group of powerful Deviants, the historic enemy of his people. He seeks to win that war decisively with minimal effort, so he unleashes a monster to destroy a planet that could aid the enemy, while sending an assassin to silently kill the enemy’s keys to endless resurrection. After that fails to produce the victory he seeks, he takes the fight to the public relations front before unleashing a new sort of living weapons to kill the enemy. When confronted with a new god that challenges his existence, he doubles down on the war, jumps at a chance to consolidate power, and unleashes the monster again. At each step, he is true to himself, which is what everyone expects of him and why he is so easy to defeat. But, he would pass, I believe. Not that that matters, it seems.



And I can’t believe I haven’t lent a hand

That I’m just standing here



The closest thing we get to a warrior that glories in battle in X-Men Red #6 is Isca the Unbeaten, I think. Yet her fighting is a compulsion, something that she can’t overcome. Her ‘weapon’ is that she cannot lose, so she fights against her people, on the side of Uranos. Just as she fought against her people previously. She only gets a single panel here when Storm briefly takes her perspective as she searches for the right place to be. The narration is, on the surface, neutral, yet it’s difficult to not read sadness in the words “I have no choice in this matter. I can never lose.” The unsaid irony is that Isca most likely loses quite a bit when it’s a conflict between her true desires and her mutant ability. Her weapon wins every time.

As the Arakki live on Arakko and not Earth, the Progenitor doesn’t judge them (that we have seen yet). We don’t know if they would pass or fail. Frankly, I’m not that interested in if they would or not, for the most part. I think most would pass as it seems like a society built on a decided lack of hypocrisy. You don’t become fit by lying to yourself, it seems.

But, I do wonder about Isca. Her mutant power compels her to act a certain way, one possibly contrary to her true desires. She immediately abandons all loyalty, the ultimate example of ‘survival of the fittest’ where she cannot help but join the winning side of any conflict, forever surviving. We’ve seen her displeasure at that ability being manipulated by others when Roberto ensured Magneto’s victory to ascend to the Great Ring. She seems to chaff against the lack of free will brought on by her power. She never gets to choose her side, never gets to be the underdog who overcomes adversity. She never really gets to prove herself as her victory is always assured. She may as well not even be a person at all.

I’m not sure if that makes her a hypocrite, though. Or a failure by the standards that the Progenitor adheres to. After all, she is literally unable to lose. That lack of agency makes her true desires irrelevant within this context, I would argue. In a similar way to Thor passing because he wields Mjolnir and its inscription says that only those who are worthy can wield it, making it irrefutable that he is worthy, because she can never lose and she always adheres to that idea, she is always true to herself and her moral code.

What that suggests, to me, is that she is the only being alive that doesn’t hope for tomorrow. She knows it is guaranteed and that she will always be victorious. No matter what.



Well I’m gonna change I’m gonna change

I’m gonna change I’m gonna change

I’m gonna change I’m gonna change

I’m gonna change I’m gonna change

I’m gonna change


Eros is a sociopath. This is canon. I think. It was established in Thanos: The Infinity Siblings written by Jim Starlin, creator of Eros. That graphic novel and the ensuing sequels are the only time that Starlin spent much time with the character. Prior to this, having Eros, devoid of a mouth, narrate The Infinity Gauntlet #4, the issue where Thanos kills all of your favourite heroes, save the ones that he already wiped out with a snap of his fingers. Not much is revealed about Thanos’s brother in that issue. It could have been anyone providing the running commentary of Thanos killing hero after hero in new and inventive ways. Despite creating the Titan branch of the Eternals, Starlin never seemed to have much use for any of them save Thanos. It was a surprise when, for his second trilogy of Thanos graphic novels that he would then turn his eye toward Eros finally. Positioning Thanos as a psychopath, it makes sense that Eros, the emotional manipulator, would be cast as a sociopath. A cold, self-serving being who flits through life, unconcerned with others except for how it relates to him. That was how Starlin wrote the character in that trilogy and I can’t quite tell if that’s how Gillen is writing him here.

Freed from the Exclusion at the end of Judgment Day #3 (and expanded upon in Death to the Mutants #2), Eros is sort of the ultimate politician in issue four. He goes from meeting to meeting, listening to what various people want, what they need to come together. The idea is that, if they can get over their differences and become unified, then they can pass the Progenitor’s judgment. It’s his alternative to using his emotional manipulation powers to simply force the planet into harmony... but it doesn’t strike me as much different. The cosmic dandy as Schiti draws him, his body language oozes manipulation and charm. That he’s applying the empathic part of his abilities towards this goal is still using his power to make people do what he wants. He gets everyone on board by making big promises and putting himself in a position of power (the panel where he’s declared Prime Eternal has such an ominous look to it), setting himself up to be the one who makes the impassioned plea to the Celestial on behalf of the world. And all he has to offer is the promise of hope. That they can change. That they can try.

His big speech rings false. Schiti has him overact, ham it up, and I kind of laughed a little. The word seem sincere, but the body language is far from. And the words are the wrong ones in the circumstance. It’s the sort of speech Captain America would make. The “We can be better” speech. The “We can change” speech. The lie. It’s a lie. It’s a bunch of desperate people grasping at whatever straws they can find in the vague hope that it will satisfy an unknowable god that sees through their lies. They pinned their hopes on a sociopath and thought that it would win over this god. Eros lies to everyone, including himself.

“If we can’t pass this test, we deserve to fail. If we don’t believe love can win, what’s the point?” Eros says early in the issue. Yet, what does he do that embodies love from that point? He listens, he makes deals, he assumes power, and he makes a stab to not die for good. Where is the love? There’s certainly self-interest, especially if he is the saviour of the world and the new Prime Eternal to boot. It’s very much the other side of his brother... different motivations, different means, same end goal... the same Eros.


Is there anything more shocking in this event to date than Uranos finally getting free, beginning to unleash utter destruction on the world, and, then, immediately getting his ass kicked all of the way back to the Exclusion? That it comes at the hands of people who just beat back his leftover weapons on Arakko makes it even funnier. Taken together, the arrival and victory/sacrifice of Storm and Magneto turns Judgment Day #4 into “The Hour of Magneto Pt. 2” in a sense.

I don’t want to minimise Storm’s role here... but it’s really about Magneto taking on Uranos. The two ugly patriarchs of their respective people facing off. Uranos is the unchanging epitome of the Eternals. “Undying.” Never evolving past a certain point: exterminate all deviance. So focused on his singular revelation of how to satisfy that Principle that he cannot think of anything else or become anything else. He managed to take a single leap beyond what he was and stopped, never to advance.

It’s very reminiscent of Magneto, the dark side of Charles Xavier’s dream, wanting to secure his people’s survival by killing humanity. No coexistence, no quarter given, just exterminate the brutes and be done with it. He spent a long time trying to accomplish that goal, but, unlike Uranos, he managed, over time to evolve. He deviated from his original ideas. Instead of focusing on tearing humanity down, he shifted his focus to building mutants up. And when the mutants of Krakoa made it clear that they were ready to move past his ideas, he went to Arakko to see if he could help build something there. He gave up mutant immortality, preferring to abide by the code of this different mutant culture. He continues to change and seek out new experiences as part of his love of his people.

Uranos wishes to stand alone and only uses others, viewing them as pawns for his own ends. He lies to Druig to gain his freedom and thinks nothing of betraying him. Magneto embraces the community around him, accepting the life-giving assistance of Storm to fight for something more than himself. It would never occur to Uranos to sacrifice himself for his people or his Principles the way Magneto freely does, never wavering on his decision to embrace the spirit of Arakko and forego resurrection. If there’s a brief moment of hope in Judgment Day #4 for the future of the planet, it’s when the Progenitor focuses in on the conflict between Uranos and Magneto, and, while dying, Magneto never calls out to Charles to save him, to ensure that he is reborn and will keep on living.

While he continues to change and evolve, in the end, Magneto is true to himself and his beliefs of the moment. He is nothing if not sincere. But, so is Uranos. They reflect one another better than Charles and Erik ever did. While we never see Uranos’s judgment, it’s hard to believe that he fails except in that he failed. He did not correct excess Deviance.

Yet, in the wake of his defeat and Magneto’s sacrifice, and Eros’s last ditch plea, the Progenitor decides. Earth fails.

“We’re going to die.”



No one should have to live all of their life on their own

No one should have to live all of their life on their own

No one should have to live all of their life on their own

No one should have to live all of their life alone