REVIEW: ‘A.X.E.: X-Men,’ Issue #1

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A.X.E. X-Men #1 - But Why Tho

A.X.E.: X-Men #1 is written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Francesco Mobili, colored by Frank Martin, and lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles. It’s published by Marvel Comics. The Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals continue their quest to stop the Progenitor from destroying the Earth. But the Celestial is still continuing to test the world’s heroes, and Jean Grey is next in its sights. Its test is simple: it wishes to know if she has redeemed herself from the actions she committed as the Dark Phoenix. Despite the help of the others, particularly Wolverine, this may be one test Jean can’t overcome.

In the same way that he approached Iron Man’s self-destructive nature in the A.X.E.: Avengers one-shot, Gillen decides to tackle the well-worn issue of the Phoenix in this story. Despite all of her efforts to be a hero, the actions that Jean committed as Dark Phoenix still weigh heavily on her. And the Progenitor plays on this guilt, as well as the guilt she had over leaving the Quiet Council to reform the X-Men with her husband Cyclops. Gillen understands that redemption is not an easy road, and as he did with Iron Man, he slowly peels back the layers of Jean’s guilt to come to a conclusion. He also explores her relationship with Wolverine in a way few writers have, as the clawed Canadian insists to the end that Jean is good.

Mobili continues the apocalyptic trend that many artists have taken with Judgement Day, and his work results in some haunting images. A.X.E.: X-Men #1 opens with Jean looking at a crumbling city, its inhabitants running for their lives. Even though it’s a psychic projection, the reader will feel the fear radiating off of her. And the things the Progenitor subjects her to are the stuff of nightmares. She’s constantly surrounded by burning bodies and the massive Celestial literally towers over her, demanding she justifies her worthiness. That’s saying nothing of its insides, which are populated with creatures that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Lovecraft story. Once again, this storyline cements my belief that actually living in a superhero universe would be hell.

Speaking of hell, Martin’s colors bring a foreboding vibe to the story. The reddish-orange glow of flames is present throughout the entire story, including a page where Jean literally holds back the flames of a miniature sun with nothing but her mind. Different shades of pink are also present throughout the issue, including a lighter pink when Jean uses her powers and a dark magenta when the Progenitor confronts her. Cowles’ word balloons for the Progenitor take on the same shade of black and pink as the background, adding even more menace to its dark pronouncements.

A.X.E.: X-Men #1 puts Jean Grey through a mental wringer, as it explores whether it’s possible to achieve redemption. Rather than padding out the Judgment Day storyline, these one-shots add a new dimension to it. It’ll be interesting to see how Gillen wraps things up with the third and final one-shot next week.

A.X.E.: X-Men #1 is available wherever comics are sold.


A.X.E.: X-Men #1
4.5

TL;DR

A.X.E.: X-Men #1 puts Jean Grey through a mental wringer, as it explores whether it’s possible to achieve redemption. Rather than padding out the Judgment Day storyline, these one-shots add a new dimension to it. It’ll be interesting to see how Gillen wraps things up with the third and final one-shot next week.

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