A.X.E.: Avengers #1: Review

Sep 2022
Kieron Gillen, Federico Vicentini

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

A.X.E.: Avengers #1 Review by (October 1, 2022)
This is a 1-shot tie-in to A.X.E.: Judgment Day which follows on from AXEJD#5. As Iron Man comments, he's the only Avenger present - so it's really A.X.E.: Iron Man.

The journey through the Celestial's body reminds me of Ant-Man's trip through Vision's body in the "A journey to the centre of the android" section of Avengers vol 1 #93 (which was itself inspired by the film Fantastic Voyage).

Tony Stark certainly knows that Progenitor killed Captain America in AXEJD#5 and presumably was aware of the plan for the mutants to resurrect him at the end of that issue.

Mr Sinister previously got Celestial tech from the body of the dead Dreaming Celestial in Uncanny X-Men vol 2 #1.

I think the death of Tony Stark's (adoptive) parents in an accidental car crash was 1st mentioned in Iron Man vol 1 #28. It's been repeated several times but as Tony mentions here there have been several suggestions that all was not as it seems. Eg 1998's Iron Man: Iron Age #2 said Roxxon arranged Howard Stark's assassination. And 2010's SHIELD vol 1 #5 suggests the accident was faked by the Brotherhood Of The Shield.

To be continued in AXE: X-Men 1-shot.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

A.X.E.: Avengers #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Celestial Progenitor (who when he was dead was the Avengers HQ at the North Pole) has been declaring judgement on each individual human and by the end of A.X.E.: Judgment Day #4 had done enough to pass judgement on humanity as a whole. His conclusion was negative and he started to destroy the world. But at the end of #5 a small group of superheroes managed to break into his body intending to push his self-destruct button.

Inside Progenitor Iron Man comments that he's the only Avenger present. (The rest of the team is X-Men Jean Grey, Mister Sinister and Wolverine and Eternals Ajak, Makkari and Sersi.) Sersi and Wolverine point out that they both *used to be* Avengers, and Mr Sinister offers to join. Tony Stark isn't happy about him making jokes when the Celestial has already killed Captain Marvel and Thor amongst others, and Captain America is trying to hold things together. MrS reminds him that they 2 plus others reanimated the Celestial so they are jointly responsible for the deaths.

They agree to push on towards the destruct node. But the Eternal Priestess Ajak raises a problem that the Celestial 'god' is so full of power that it's warping reality and changing its own innards. Marvel Girl agrees that she's having to keep the psychic weight from crushing them all.

At that point they are attacked by what MrS describes as vicious Celestial antibodies. He pulls out a jar of pheromones which he claims helped him invade the Dreaming Celestial. But it doesn't work this time so it's up to the others. Wolverine slashes with his claws and Jean mentally overrides (with their prior permission in AXE:JD#5) the Eternals' compulsion to not harm Celestials. She tells Tony that Sinister really is a genius, the flippant remarks are just a front - and Tony realises she's comparing Nathaniel Essex to *him*. So he jokingly warns her that he has a thing for feisty redheads.

Eventually Priestess Makkari signals that she's found the way to the node and they all follow her. Then Iron Man is set upon by hexagonal 'platelets' which adhere to his armour. Makkari rips his helmet off but Tony still can't breathe ...

... and he falls into a dream vision. The 1st thing he encounters there is the body of Prof Yinsen who died helping Stark in Iron Man's origin (Tales Of Suspense #39 and later updates). But this body has been killed by a repulsor blast indicating Tony's sense of responsibility for the death. He's then confronted by all versions of his armour who point out that despite the improvements people keep dying on his watch. And now he's created this giant god armour which is killing *everyone*.

Next up is the body of Captain America as IM and the Avengers found it way back in Av#4. Steve Rogers says that the Celestial could possibly have already killed him (again) out there because of Tony's latest mistake. James Rhodes pops up as War Machine to remind him that Tony broke his neck when he was the Iron God (in the recent Iron Man #17). Tony tries to fix it like he did then, but this time the head comes off. Then the android Thor he created in Civil War is there to remind him of another mistake. But also that if he hadn't given up his Iron Godhood he would have been able to defeat the Celestial and bring everyone back to life. Bruce Banner joins them and accuses Stark of being addicted to saving the world, only this time he's failed. Then he turns into Hulk and he and the Thordroid beat on him.

We next segue into a parade of the women in his life. Wasp, Black Widow, Pepper Potts and Hellcat castigate him for working on his armours when he should have been fixing his personal failings. Patsy Walker ends by pointing out that he's chosen women (Whitney Frost excepted) who could be parental figures to provide him the moral compass he lacks. And then he finds himself in the car with his parents as it crashes and kills them.

At last it becomes clear that this is all the Celestial judging him. Tony desperately digs into his surroundings to get at the underlying mechanism which he can fix, but Progenitor says this might just be psychic reality control so he's wasting his time. However Stark refuses to give up as long as there's a chance it *might* work. The Celestial's last guise is now Howard Stark who admits to being a bad father but he's proud of his son now. And the Celestial passes a positive judgement on him.

He returns to reality and the platelets have stopped trying to kill him. He's crying but he tells them it's because his dad praised him. But he also points out that the 'god' was testing him, and this means it's still testing them all. And so there must still be a chance they can win and save the world.

Federico Vicentini
Federico Vicentini
Dean White
Nic Klein (Cover Penciler)
Nic Klein (Cover Inker)
Nic Klein (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(James Howlett)

Plus: Mister Sinister, Progenitor.

> A.X.E.: Avengers: Book info and issue index

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