The events of A.X.E.: Judgment day are heating up, and now it’s time for the tie-in stories to add layers to the character experience. Kieron Gillen writes A.X.E.: Avengers #1, further showing this event is his baby in more ways than one. Joining him is newly minted Marvel’s Stormbreaker artist Federico Vicentini in a story focused on the heroes inside the Celestial casting judgment on every creature on Earth. One might take solace in knowing when the head writer of an event is writing a tie-in, it matters a great deal as it does with this issue.
As the cover heavily suggests, this issue is all about Tony Stark. The issue opens with Tony, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Mr. Sinister, Ajak, Makkari, and Sersi inside the Progenitor Celestial. They’re attempting to figure out how to turn him off, or at least stop him from dealing with harsh judgments. Still reeling from the Celestial killing of Thor, the characters are on edge but are aided by Mr. Sinister’s silly demeanor for some comic relief. Soon the antibodies of the Celestial attack, though, sending the story into Tony Stark’s mind.
This is an exciting look at Tony Stark, with Gillen making some strong points about his personality, being an orphan, and his addiction to saving the planet. One could even say Gillen makes a grand and final statement on the modern takes of this character, summing him up well. I found myself pondering how, if at all, Gillen’s take here would affect Gerry Duggan’s when he takes over in December, further proving it’s a thorough angle on the character.
This issue also does a great job reminding us of all the things Iron Man has done over the last several events. Not only is this a fun way to recount the many events within this event, but it’s a reminder Iron Man has done some wickedly bad things. He’s endangered lives, cloned Thor, and gotten Captain America killed, just to name a few. There are more callbacks, of course, which all lead to a final statement of clarity for Tony Stark. It’s well done and is a critical milestone issue for the character.
Outside of Iron Man, one could argue this issue adds such a small nugget to the more significant event and its plot progression it’s almost not necessary to read if you’re not an Iron Man fan. The revelation Tony has on the final page is one we already knew, given what’s going on in Wolverine, for instance. Chalk it up to event tie-ins finding small reasons to exist, but if it means exciting character work and probing of legacy characters, why not?
Art by Vicentini is excellent, with a kinetic, energetic style that gives the montaging of past events extra zip. The interior of the Celestial is also well done, made up like some kind of supernatural horror chamber where mad scientists lurk. Colors by Dean White give the book a lot of energy and brightness and help a great deal in making it easier to distinguish the characters from one another in tight spaces. Character acting is also on point, as you’ll feel for Tony Stark, even when the Celestial reminds us of his terrible actions. Rain effects look great too.
A.X.E.: Avengers #1 is an excellent start in the first three A.X.E. tie-in one-shots. If the purpose of these Gillen-written one-shots is to explore specific key characters in the event, we’re in luck as we’ll get a thorough exploration of Jean Grey and Ajak.
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