Comics/Graphic Novels

What is Marvel’s Judgment Day?

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If you’ve wandered into a comic book store or read a Marvel comic in the last few months, you’ve probably heard about the next big event: Judgment Day. X-Men versus Eternals with the Avengers thrown into the mix. Tired of heroes fighting villains? How about heroes fighting heroes? So what, exactly, is Marvel’s Judgment Day?

cover of AXE Judgment Day 1

First, let’s look at the state of the Marvel Universe. After the events of Devil’s Reign, Kingpin is in hiding after a beatdown from Daredevil, and Luke Cage is the mayor of New York City. Daredevil himself is in mourning after Kingpin killed his brother. The Fantastic Four are finishing their Reckoning War, fighting a powerful new villain while Reed struggles with absorbing the collected knowledge of The Watchers. Needless to say, most of the New York heroes are wrapped up in their own issues. For now, at least.

Now that we know who won’t be involved, who are the players in Marvel’s Judgment Day?

X-Men

Marvel’s merry mutants, the X-Men, have made a lovely home for themselves on the sentient island of Krakoa. They have sovereignty and relative peace with humans compared to the decades before, providing unique medicines in exchange for this sovereignty. Oh, and they’re effectively immortal. A clever combination of five mutant powers and Professor X backing up mutant minds like Word files means that mutants come back from the dead.

That particular secret, the one they guarded the most, has recently slipped out. Now everyone knows that mutants cannot stay dead.

cropped cover of X-Men 12

These are not the same X-Men we’ve read for so long. Connecticut and the Xavier Institute are relics of the past. One-time villains and heroes are now on the same side in Krakoa: mutantdom. Emma Frost, Professor X, and Mystique all sit on the Quiet Council, among others. Mr. Sinister leads one team while Katherine (don’t call her Kitty) Pryde leads another. Maybe they aren’t all BFFs, but they’re getting along well enough.

Oh, and there are some mutants living on Mars. Arakko, specifically. There, Storm has created a new Brotherhood of Mutants that are forging their own path, forsaking Krakoa’s immortality. They aren’t enemies of Krakoa, though.

I won’t even begin to list all of the mutants, particularly since nearly every one of them that ever died is living again. There are thousands. Hundreds appear every month between all the different X-Men titles. They’re an immense force.

Eternals

This group is the least popular in this trifecta, but they’re the most important. Eternals have a three-fold mission. Protect the Celestials. Protect The Machine (Earth). Correct excess deviations. These aren’t orders or suggestions. These principles are biological imperatives for Eternals. They MUST pursue these missions.

Easy enough. So what’s the problem?

The Deviants, their cosmic opposites, have basically been wiped out. Now, the Prime Eternal, Druig, has decided that immortal mutants are excess deviations. The solution? The Eternals must wipe out all mutants.

There are only 101 Eternals, making them vastly outnumbered compared to the X-Men or even the Avengers, but they’re immortal in an immutable way: Whenever an Eternal dies, they are instantly resurrected at the cost of a random human life. That fact isn’t sitting well with all members of this ancient race.

Avengers

The multi-billion-dollar movie franchise means you already know the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Captain America, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Thor, and so many others make up the team at any given point. One team also includes Namor, Blade, Echo, Starbrand, Valkyrie, and Nighthawk. Basically, if they’re not an Eternal or mutant (with some exceptions), anybody could show up on an Avengers roster. This early, it’s not entirely clear how the Avengers will factor in other than trying to prevent an apocalyptic war between the Eternals and X-Men.

Oh, and the Avengers are currently operating out of the body of a long-dead Celestial. So, I imagine the Eternals can’t be very happy that the corpse of one of their dead gods is a superhero headquarters.

Genocide and Kidnapping

Spoilers ahead for Eye of Judgment #1 and A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1.

Marvel’s Judgment Day begins simply enough. Druig decides to teleport an antimatter bomb right into the heart of Krakoa, effectively destroying it and every mutant on the island. Fortunately, that biological imperative kicks in and makes them bring it back and disarm it. Apparently destroying Krakoa would harm Earth. But Druig is just getting started.

image of panel from Eye of Judgment 1, where Druig is on his knees, saying "What happened? That shouldn't have triggered the principles." Domo leans down to him and says, "The island itself...Krakoa. It's a sentient being of an unusual type. I think it is part of the machine in a fundamental way. We cannot simply annihilate its every molecule." The caption beneath reads, "Domo is clever and, in this case, correct. It's a long story, Krakoa is a nice guy."

In a preview of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1, Captain Marvel, Echo, and Thor grab Sersi (an Eternal) from the middle of a meal and yank her into space. They’re onto the Eternals’ plan, and hope grabbing their own local Eternal can be a bargaining chip to de-escalate. Because kidnapping always makes tense situations calmer.

Marvel’s Judgment Day has just begun, warming up in July, kicking into high gear starting in August, and not concluding until November.

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