There’s still one more bookend issue to go in the saga of AXE: Judgment Day, but it’s safe to say it’s Marvel’s best crossover event in years — maybe the best Big Two crossover in years. In AXE: Judgment Day #6, we saw how the Avengers, X-Men, and Eternals kept the Progenitor Celestial from executing humanity. All that’s left is the fallout, to be contained in next week’s AXE: Judgment Day Omega.
The secret of the arc’s success is that it never bites off more than it can chew, which sounds farcical to say about a book in which the Avengers and the X-Men and the Eternals accidentally create a god that tries to destroy all of humanity. But under the stewardship of writer Kieron Gillen and his collaborators — both on the main Judgment Day title and the majority of its one-shot tie-ins — the story has obeyed the first rule of writing event comics:
People don’t keep coming back to superhero comics for the events themselves — what matters is how the characters react to them.
There was plenty of death and destruction in Judgment Day, and a lot of it looked, to use an industry term, dope as hell. But from the moment the Progenitor raised its thumb to judge every hero and villain on Earth, the event became an operatic writing prompt asking for explorations of character interiority and history. And that’s the best of event comics, baby!
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. 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 #6
Image: Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti/Marvel Comics
Another example of the story not biting off more than it can chew? After all the sturm and drang, Judgment Day is about how you shouldn’t wait for an excuse to do better, but strive every day to be a little better for the world than you were yesterday.
It’s a simple moral, and perhaps an obvious one, and certainly one we’ve heard before, but not one of those is a criticism of any significance. Sometimes you watch The Good Place, sometimes you read comics. They can both be right.
Catwoman: Lonely City #4
Image: Cliff Chiang/DC Comics
Stories that imagine what Gotham City will be like when Batman grows old or dies are a dime a dozen. Hell, one of them just came out for PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X. Catwoman: Lonely City, which concludes with its fourth issue, is among the best of them, genre-blending the “old superhero” story with an “everybody comes out of retirement for one last heist” movie. It’s probably one of the best comics of the year, the first collected edition drops in December, and you should read it. Yes, you.
Damn Them All #1
Image: Simon Spurrier, Charlie Adlard/Boom Studios
Enough high-minded criticism; I like Damn Them All #1 because it’s got a hard-boiled lady exorcist wielding a claw hammer, and that rules.
New Mutants #31
Image: Charlie Jane Anders, Alberto Alburquerque/Marvel Comics
Writer extraordinaire Charlie Jane Anders took the reins on New Mutants this week, and… it’s just nice! It’s just a nice kickoff to an arc, and I love Cerebella (formerly No-Girl).
The Riddler: Year One #1
Image: Paul Dano, Stevan Subic/DC Comics
If you were a big fan of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, you’ll definitely want to check out Riddler: Year One, written by Riddler actor Paul Dano and drawn by artist Stevan Subic. Me? I’m just here for the 2048 references.