A.X.E.: Judgment Day is past its halfway point this week with its fourth issue…sort of. When it comes to Big Two events, the halfway point isn’t so clear given all the tie-in issues and specials. The planned six-issue event is certainly more than halfway over, and it has reached the point where a newly awakened Celestial is passing judgment on everyone. How fun, but can his judgy ways keep up our attention for the latest issue?
The Celestial doing the judging is Progenitor, who is also our main narrator since he woke up. His captions open this issue, detailing the chaos around Captain America, who stands at the foot of the X-Men headquarters in New York City. It’s obvious writer Kieron Gillen is using Captain America as a symbol for hope, and hope seems to be long gone as people assume doomsday is upon them. If they are judged poorly, Progenitor will likely do terrible things to the world if not obliterate the entire planet. The use of Captain America is a smart one, which bookends well with the final panel, further raising the stakes.
Much of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4 is about jumping around as we see Progenitor’s judgments of critical heroes and humans across the globe. Over three six-panel pages, Valerio Schiti draws different scenes of success, failure, and all sorts of responses to their judgments. Dr. Doom and Xavier may take the cake as their judgments reflect well who these personalities are. I felt confused at times as to what was going on, but most of the time, Gillen does a great job reminding us through characters how things are going or what the next steps are to actively attempt to beat Progenitor’s judgment game.
That confusion may lie in a lack of detail regarding what the Uni-Mind is, or at least what it means to bring that element into the story. The Eternals put their will and intelligence into this entity, which pops into the story when a vote is called. Druig thinks he’s got the upper hand, but thanks to mutants, the good Eternals have the advantage. That is, until the big-bad hovering over this story is released. Seeing as he decimated Arakko quickly and easily, it’s a significant turning point, but the mechanicians to bring him into power are conveyed in a clunky way.
You gotta respect the great work Schiti and color artist Marte Gracia is doing here, though. There are some difficult visuals to pull off, like Uranos striking on multiple locations all at once. The final few pages lead to a major moment as Progenitor judges the world, and it’s a highly dramatic finish. It’s impressive how much emotion comes out of these pages as the drama resides in Progenitor simply turning his thumb downwards in between a few panels. Crosscutting with that are characters reacting and you feel their pain and anguish through their facial expressions, body language, and the emotional toll of it all.
When it comes to A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4, the name of the game is heavy emotional resonance. You will feel for these characters as they never give up hope, but seem to have no way of stopping what is coming. The series continues to take big swings while offering introspective moments as our favorite characters get judged. What more could you want?
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