Free Comic Book Day is always a great opportunity for companies like Marvel and DC to promote what they have coming up later in the year to a lot of people and hopefully gain a lot of interest in those storylines. This year, a significant focus is being put on an event called Judgment Day, and it’s easy to see why. Kieron Gillen is taking the Eternals he’s been writing the last year and a half and putting them into direct conflict with the X-Men, who are having some of the biggest success they have ever had both in the Marvel Universe and critically for readers. Stuck in the middle will be the Avengers, trying to stop an all-out war between the two factions.
We see the origins of what this conflict will be in “Of Deviation and Mutation,” the main story in this free Judgment Day issue written by Gillen and drawn by Dustin Weaver. We are introduced to the Eternals, Avengers, and Mutants by The Eternals’ Machine, so the descriptions are very much from an Eternals viewpoint. It is here that we flashback to almost a million years ago when the Eternals are justifying Odin why they are about to eliminate an entire species of mutant monkeys. It seems there is a point where a harmless mutation can become deviancy, which the Eternals are sworn to prevent from spreading across the Earth. In the present, we see this situation might be repeating itself when the Eternals learn of the mutant’s ability to resurrect themselves.
This is a shocking moment and a monumental one for the Krakoan era. The mutants and X-Men have been extremely cautious in protecting their secret of mutant resurrection, going as far as mind wiping journalists and having Cyclops take on a whole new superhero identity after he “died” too publicly. Their nation’s power in the world is already contentious, so this information getting out could have major ramifications alongside the literal danger that would occur if the Eternals see the need to exterminate the mutant population. This seems like an inevitable battle that the Avengers will have their hands full in trying to manage. Part of the issue shows the Eternals helping the Avengers destroy a giant deviant, and while the Eternals’ mandate on deviancy was helpful there, it will be a much different story when their target is an island full of innocent people and the Avengers’ frequent allies.
The second story in this issue is called “Bloodline” and is written by Danny Lore and drawn by Karen S. Darboe. It is the story of Brielle, daughter of Blade, defending one of her friends from a vampire that is a sore loser of a video game tournament. She uses a game controller and her silver bracelets to knock him out before having to quickly get home before curfew. Her mother then opens a box of weapons and says that Brielle needs Blade. This is a series people have been waiting a long time for, and this snapshot provides a preview of the youthful and fun tone this book will have when it comes out this Fall.
The final part of the issue is written by Gerry Duggan and drawn by Matteo Lolli. It takes us back into the Krakoan side of things, where an unknown narrator is discussing the rise in Krakoa and how it must not be allowed to prosper forever. We see Mary Jane Watson and her Aunt Anna on
a news program promoting the “miracle” drugs Krakoa produces that extends the life of human beings. (Anna says she is a huge Succession fan and therefore must be protected at all costs.) When Mary Jane returns home, it is revealed that the narrator was Moira Mactaggart, the mutant instrumental in setting up Krakoa but has since been depowered, turned post-human, and has sworn vengeance on the mutants (see the mini-series Inferno and X Deaths of Wolverine for more of her exile and transformation). Moira attacks Mary Jane and hints that she will be using her to get into the Hellfire Gala, Krakoa’s annual event where they are most visible to the outside world.
Overall this issue feels like essential reading, especially if you are invested in the X-Men side of Marvel. When the Judgment Day event is eventually collected in one big hardcover, it will most likely open with the “Of Deviation and Mutation” section of this issue. Add to that the fun Bloodline preview and the potential Spider-Man involvement in mutant affairs, and there is no telling how far the seeds of this story will spread.