The big day is here, as A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1 kicks off Marvel’s summer event. Kieron Gillen and Valerio Schiti aim to set the Marvel universe on fire and maybe even kill a few heroes. The Eternals want the X-Men dead (as seen in A.X.E.: Eve of Judgment), and the Avengers likely won’t let that happen without a fight. Or maybe they will. As Gillen has shown in Eternals, politics can be complicated, and it’s difficult to know whose side someone is on at any given time.
First and foremost, A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1 is a gorgeously drawn book. Schiti’s art is complemented by incredible colors from Marte Gracia, and they have proven time and time again they can deliver event-caliber art. There’s a great sense of volume and light thanks to the colors with expert acting delivered by the characters. The size of enemies is captured well, too, further cementing the fact that this series is taking big swings. Some of the best art in the book are spoilers, so it’s tough to go into detail, but the costumes on every character look great.
This is a different kind of event for Marvel, and while melodrama and complex in-fighting is always common, this issue focuses on characters. Punching and fighting only occur on a few pages, but Gillen set up a powder keg of angry, fearful, and determined characters. The politics between these characters — including the Avengers, who have a scene talking things over — take up much of the narrative here. It gives this issue an opening intro feel rather than a splashy start killing major characters or spiking interest through matchups, as we’ve seen in the past.
Druig ends up being the mastermind behind the villains, but there are weapons at his disposal, and maybe villains to take his place, later on, established here. Outside of Druig though, many characters get dialogue. It’s quite something how creators can juggle so many comic characters these days. It makes your head spin simply to think about all the characters that show up here, let alone someone like Schiti drawing them or Gillen keeping track of who is where.
One action scene on Krakoa could have folks talking, although it isn’t given a splash page and it feels rather short-lived. This series isn’t about fighting yet, though – this issue is mostly set up for the conflicts coming. That reduces the first issue’s big event and “must-read” feel. It’s certainly not bad or boring, but it doesn’t have a lot of splashy moments. The one big splash near the end that threatens our heroes looks cool, but you’ll still be waiting for the confrontation as it’s only a reveal.
If you’re interested in the Shakespearean angle on Marvel heroes, meaning the complex interconnected relationships, you’ll love A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1. It packs so many characters into one issue, reminding readers that event comics are about moments in time where every character may be changed forever.
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