Events are a funny and fickle story engine. The best ones take our expectations and play with them in some way, by using tropes to their fullest potential or subverting the assumed plot. AXE: Judgment Day #2 shows us by the end of the issue that this is a much different event than anyone is expecting.
There’s a reason this series isn’t AvXvE, and it stands revealed by Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles.
The Hex has arrived on Krakoa and the X-Men have to do all in their power to stop the kaiju-sized Eternals. Iron Man, Ajak and Sinister also race the ticking clock, hoping to raise the dead Celestial from the heart of Avengers Mountain. Little does anyone know that they’re all about to face a challenge much greater than any before…
If this has continued to be a straightforward story of two factions trying to out maneuver each other, this story would have been a fun but standard event. Gillen was smart here- giving up an issue and a half of exactly that, before twisting the premise. In what would have normally been an eleventh hour hail mary, he twists everything about the series, and make the event deeper and much more introspective. This is a meditation on the heart that beats in each hero’s chest, and we’ll see what shape that takes in the next issue.
Without Cowles lettering Gillen’s script, I don’t know that this would have as much of an impact. He has a great talent for timing in the dialogue, using spacing and location of captions and balloons to create a rhythm and flow to the script.
Meanwhile, Schiti continues to show why he’s become amongst Marvels top tier of artists. The action scenes are great, but as I’ve said before, any comic artist can do action. Schiti is able to make the really abstract and far-out stuff engaging and dynamic, especially with Gracia coloring him.
A sequence mid-issue involves various heroes gathering artifacts from past encounters with Celestials, and the level of detail and dynamic motion in those panels makes the scene come to life. Gracia’s colors are a huge part of how the art really stands out (especially in that scene). He is probably better than any other color artist in the industry at using color to convey light and atmosphere. Here that means surreal alien glowing, and exotic energy being thrown around by godlike beings, and somehow he makes that feel realistic.
This continues to be Marvel’s best event in a long time, and this turn heads it towards something incredibly unique. I’m excited to see where it goes.
AXE: Judgment Day #2 is available now from Marvel Comics.
The series is turn on its head in this issue. It’s a fun story, it looks great, and the twist on the final page promises to turn this already excellent event into something wholly unique. Highly recommended.