Judgement Day, Marvel’s big three-way throwdown between the Eternals, Avengers, and X-Men opened mostly with the Eternals trying do a genocide on Mutantkind, and the Avengers mostly just thrown into the crossfire. Good news: some of the Eternals have decided to try and stop the slaughter with the help of Tony Stark. Bad news: they really fucked up.
This week’s Judgement Day #2, by Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles, largely sees Krakoa pull back from the brink of the horrifying assault staged by current Eternal Prime Druig on the island nation. The X-Men and whatever fighting Mutants are left still standing are holding out against the massive “Hex,” titanic Eternal creatures Druig has sent to terminate Mutantkind in the wake of unlocking the power of resurrection. They’re aided by most of the Avengers (at least, until the fighting gets so bad they have to run off and help defend other parts of the world).
Away from all the fighting, Tony Stark — operating on a tip from Sersi, who alongside Ikaris and several other Eternals has broken away from Druig’s fanatical rule over their kind — teams up with several other breakaway Eternals, Ajak, Phastos, and Makkari (and, long story short, a captured Mr. Sinister). Their plan is to end the conflict by resurrecting the Celestial the Avengers have built their base out of in the past couple of months, and making it a kind of god who can head over to Druig and basically say “hey, don’t you genocide those nice Mutants.”
It’s a bold move, and ultimately one that turns the arc of Judgement Day on its head… because it goes terribly terribly wrong. Tony, Ajak, Phastos, and Makkari’s creation is a god, yes — made up of a patchwork of pieces of fallen Celestials from across the planet as well as the Avengers’ own base — and it successfully manages to halt the Hex’s assault, overriding Druig’s commands and saving Krakoa from further harm. But it only does so because it immediately wakes up and sees the Eternals and Mutantdom fighting each other tooth and nail, while humans either recoil in fear from the aftershocks or merrily root on the defeat of either faction. It is not pleased, so, as the series’ title goes, it judges: the planet has 24 hours in which this new Celestial amalgam will judge Eternal, human, and Mutant alike, and if they’re not found worthy, the entire world is going bye-bye.
It’s a fascinating spin on what could’ve otherwise just been an event about the Eternals and X-Men knocking each other’s lights out in a forever-resurrecting stalemate of brutality, because suddenly the centering of Judgement Day becomes not this superheroic scrap, but the ordinary, messy people of the Marvel universe. Judgement Day’s issues so far have been framed at their beginnings and ends by the reactions of six civilians to the one-two punch of both the public reveal of Mutantkind’s cure for death and the announcement of Druig’s plans to exterminate the Mutants in turn for this “deviancy.” Some support the X-Men, some support the Eternals, some are just children caught up in the anxieties of their parents about the events. Some are too busy trying to survive from one job to the next to care about the latest superpowered drama that happens every other day in the Marvel universe.
Now, they are arguably the main characters of Judgement Day, alongside the rest of the Marvel populace beyond our heroes. No matter how many Eternals, X-Men, or Avengers you throw at this problem — a problem created by the Eternals themselves, for better or worse — they alone cannot absolve the world of this new Judgement. For once, it seems like a major Marvel event is going to have to lean on the world itself to find a way to keep standing.
Just don’t ask Tony Stark to help, because that’s how you apparently get yourself a judgmental celestial being on your arse real fast.
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