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.)