If there are any true novelties in the world of superhero comics these days, it’s a big summer crossover event that’s actually feels like an adventure of coordinated parts, rather than a sensory overload. And with AXE: Judgment Day, I’m officially itching to get a new issue.
We knew going in that the A, X, and E in the title stood for a battle between the Avengers, the X-Men, and the Eternals, and AXE: Judgment Day #1 kicked off the triple whammy of kaiju-sized Eternals attacking Krakoa, the full power of the Uni-Mind psychically flattening mutant leadership, and Thanos’ granddad (presumably) decimating the mutant population on Mars single-handedly.
But if AXE: Judgment Day #2 has anything to say about it, the superheroes might have something bigger to worry about: teaming up to fight god. Based on my own research, god is usually pretty vulnerable to a team of very good teenage friends, so the X-Men should be fine, at least.
What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. (In this case, our comics editor has been out for a while, so these are from the last several weeks!) It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)
AXE: Judgment Day #2
AXE: Judgment Day #2 concludes when the Avengers and the Eternals successfully create a new Celestial, the only thing that can tell the rest of the Eternals to stop trying to kill all mutants. Unfortunately, the new Celestial has a monkey’s paw, and the paw has a thumb.
By which I mean, it does order all the Eternals to stop. But it also immediately begins to do that thing Celestials are most famous for: judging. All of humanity — humans, Eternals, and mutants alike — have 24 hours to prove themselves more just than wicked, or they will be destroyed.
And to be sure, the story that begins with the heroes fighting but quickly turns into a team-up is as old as time. But writer Kieron Gillen is keeping the stakes clear and present, and artist Valerio Schiti is delivering on the huge visuals. Just ’cause a story’s old doesn’t mean it can’t be done well.
X-Men Red #5
X-Men Red is becoming a “What mic-drop moment did Magneto have this month?” book. This is a compliment.
After a mid-issue death fake-out, it turns out that a mutant made of bugs managed to keep a few allies alive even after Magneto’s heart had been torn from his chest. The stakes of the next issue are Magneto versus the force that appears to have destroyed nearly all mutant life on Mars — and Magneto versus genocide is always a sight to see.
Poison Ivy #3
I was very happy to hear that G. Willow Wilson and Marcio Takara’s Poison Ivy has been renewed for another six issues, because I think this is a real banger of a botanic Gothic queer rage comic, giving both Hannibal and Annihilation vibes. And also it has the above panel, which will serve as a great blog background for several people I know.
Defenders: Beyond #1
Maybe the best-looking comic of 2021 was Al Ewing and Javier Rodríguez’s Defenders, and it’s lovely to see the team come back for a sequel — especially with Ewing low-key making it a reunion for the cast of his supremely underrated Ultimates series.
The New Champion of Shazam #1
You love to see creators working on their favorite lesser-known characters, and Mary Bromfield’s (formerly Mary Marvel) new star turn as the superhero known as Shazam is exactly that for artist Doc Shaner. He also draws a really great talking rabbit.
Marvel’s new Predator series is kind of... Prey but in space? Teen girl and spaceship AI friend search the galaxy for the three-mandibled Predator that killed her parents, and she struggles not to become the very terror that she hunts to the aliens she meets. It’s a great concept.
Sword of Azrael #1
Maybe it’s just because I’m a ’90s kid and a Batman fanatic, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Jean-Paul Valley and his vigilante alter ego, Azrael. Which is another way of saying I’ve been waiting three decades for someone to come along and make him more than “Catholic Moon Knight.” Writer Dan Watters and artist Nikola Čižmešija have piqued my interest in their first issue with, among other things, revealing what Tumblr might call “biblically accurate angel Azrael.” This rules.
Amazing Spider-Man #6
I find it difficult to muster a lot of interest in the core Spider-Man books at the moment but I am not immune to drawing Doctor Octopus’ arms like a scared dog that just wants Spider-Man to help its captured master. This is so silly and good.
Do a Powerbomb #2
I thought I couldn’t be any more on board for Daniel Warren Johnson’s Do a Powerbomb, a comic about professional wrestlers pulled into a supernatural tournament where the prize is resurrecting a loved one. Then, the second issue revealed that the masked wrestler who slipped and accidentally killed the hero’s mom is... HER EQUALLY TRAUMATIZED DAD. The drama.