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Jun 12

Free Comic Book Day: Avengers / X-Men / Eternals

Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

“Of Deviation and Mutation”
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dustin Weaver
Colourist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort

Writer: Danny Lore
Artist: Karen S Darboe
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Annalise Bissa

“Let’s Talk About Krakoa”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Colourist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller
Editor: Jordan D White

This is, to be honest, one of those comics where there seems to be a bit of ambiguity about what it’s, you know, actually called, which is always helpful when people might want to find it on Marvel Unlimited at some point. The cover has a Judgment Day logo. Marvel Unlimited has it listed as just Free Comic Book Day: Avengers / X-Men, with no mention of the Eternals. Let’s split the difference.

So there are three stories here. If you’re expecting one each for the Avengers, the X-Men and the Eternals, well, no. The lead story is a prologue – really more of a trailer – for the upcoming A.X.E.: Judgment Day crossover, and while the Avengers put in a brief appearance and the X-Men get a cameo, it’s an Eternals story. It’s by Eternals writer Kieron Gillen, it’s got Eternals‘ signature narration, and it’s setting up very much an Eternals concept.

If you’ve been reading Eternals it will not have escaped your notice that this stuff about resurrection machines and such forth is awfully similar to Krakoa. It’s actually been part of the Eternals’ mythos since at least the Neil Gaiman run, but once again the Eternals find themselves a slightly awkward fit in the Marvel Universe. There’s a plausible theory that says they were never really meant to be in the Marvel Universe to begin with – the basic concept of the original series, that the Eternals are the “real” people who were interpreted as gods, and the Deviants are the basis for all our stories about demons, has always sat uncomfortably in a world with superheroes and, especially, one with Thor. But viewed from the right angle, these things can also be a source of tension that you can build on.

The basic set-up, as established in Eternals, is that the Eternals have a programmed function on Earth, which is to get rid of the Deviants when they mutate too far. This isn’t merely a cultural role for them, but an irresistible compulsion. But the traditional Marvel cosmology says that mutants were also created at the same time as the Eternals and the Deviants, so how do they fit in? The Eternals’ standard line seems to be that they’re not especially bothered about the mutants. But what if the mutants start getting ideas above their station and drifting into Eternal territory? Well, this is basically the Eternals wondering about that question (especially the nastier ones), and a flashback to the Eternals wiping out some nascent mutants a while back when they seemed on the verge of figuring out hive-minds.

It’s done as well as a nine-page trailer is going to be. I’m still not really sure I understand what any of this has to do with the Avengers, but I have faith in Kieron Gillen to have an answer in mind.

The second story is a four-page trailer for the upcoming Bloodline series, about Blade’s daughter. I can’t say it immediately grips me. The angle seems to be “Blade but more contemporary”, which means that she’s into gaming. It feels a bit box-ticking. But it’s only four pages. We’ll see how it goes.

Finally, Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli do a short X-Men story which leads in to the next Hellfire Gala event. This being a FCBD one-shot, much of it is devoted to explaining the concept of the Krakoan era to readers who won’t be aware of it. And quite right too, but it’s material that regular readers will be familiar with. To liven it up, Moira MacTaggart gets to explain the premise, though some of it reads a bit oddly. She tells us here that she never did figure out a working cure for the X-gene. Presumably that’s to explain why she never got as far as including it in drugs but… hold on, she did figure out a cure to the X-gene. That was the point of Mystique and Destiny killing her in a prior life. And she’s meant to have a photographic memory of those earlier lives, so why can’t just re-create it? Okay, maybe there’s work from some of her colleagues that she doesn’t know by heart. I can go with that.

Despite the fact that they failed in every one of her previous timelines, Moira remains concerned that mutants could dominate the world unless they’re stopped, and broadly hints that A.X.E. is the next convenient opportunity to get rid of them. Well, naturally.

From there, we get a curious link to the Spider-Man books, as Mary Jane Watson becomes a brand ambassador for Krakoan drugs, and Moira attacks her to take her place at the Gala. Quite how that’s going to work is not clear – Moira seems to be implying that she’s going to repeat the Banshee stunt from X Deaths of Wolverine, but they’re obviously not killing off Mary Jane Watson for an X-Men story, so I imagine it’s going to be possession or something. The final page is nicely creepy, either way, and it’s a somewhat unexpected hook for the second Gala.

Overall, it’s… well, it’s Free Comic Book Day, and the primary point of these things is to bring in a fresh audience, even if that’s “people who go to comic stores anyway and happen not to be reading this particular book”. Previous years have opted to tell fuller stories; these definitely verge closer to promotion, but that’s fair enough in context.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    Well, Moira originally created a vaccine which could eliminate the X-gene in an individual born with said X-gene. Maybe she is saying she didn’t create her cure for mutation, which would eliminate the X-gene entirely by preventing anyone from being born with the X-gene.

    What was Moira supposed to be trying to accomplish in her past lives? What did she expect was going to occur in Life Nine if Apocalypse’s side won the war?
    Moira knew from Life Six that mutants were the next stage of human evolution, and left to a natural state that more and more mutants would be born until baseline humanity was extinct. The only thing preventing that inevitable future is the fact that humanity will turn to technology in order to compete with mutants.
    Moira’s original goal was to stop the rise of post-humanity, which would lead to mutant domination of the future. Yes, in Life Ten, Moira decided to pursue a different agenda. Still, it seems as if writers are now ignoring Moira’s prior lives and writing her as if her goal was always to stop a future dominated by mutants.
    It would have been better had they decided to not use Moira after Hickman.

  2. Michael says:

    I think they’re going to explain that Moria ALWAYS had a scheme to sabotage the resurrections. The current Spider-Man arc has Peter on friendly terms with Norman Osborn, who’s now good since his “sins” were transferred into Peter’s friend Ashley Kafka, who was shown doing research into clones, and their memories and personalities. The promos have Peter getting involved with the X-Men due to something that happened to the resurrections. My guess is Moira sabotages the resurrections somehow and they need Kafka’s help to fix it but if they restore her to normal, Norman goes back to being the Green Goblin.

  3. Allan M says:

    I tend to think that the Avengers, who have former members from both Eternals and X-Men, will be trying to keep the peace between the two groups since both have been behaving erratically of late and keeping enormous, world-changing secrets from the Avengers. A war between two groups with superpowers and seemingly boundless resurrections could be catastrophic. What happens when there’s a war and neither side cares if their soldiers die?

  4. Mike Loughlin says:

    As I see it, the Avengers represent post-humanity, the X-Men represent mutants, and the Eternsls are akin to AI. They are all programmed to wipe out “excess deviation” and Sersi has even said, “we can’t help doing this.” Additionally, the Earth (narrator of Gillen’ & Ribic’s excellent Eternals comic) is considered the machine that resurrects Eternals. I see the upcoming conflict as the three non-human factions that represent Earth’s future clashing over said future.

  5. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Allan M- Yup!

    The Avengers are basically trying to stop an Eternals vs X-Men event from being published.

    Bless them.

  6. YLu says:

    Anyone catch how this book finally gives an explicit explanation about something lots of fans were puzzling over, why Moira worked to establish Krakoa in the first place on the first place if she’s secretly anti-mutual? She says here that she wanted to put all mutants in one location, get them contained.

    It’s not prevented as a reveal or anything, so I think we meant to infer that from the end of Inferno, only I don’t think it was in any way as obvious as the X-writers must have thought it was.

  7. Si says:

    I can’t say I like the Eternals the way they’ve been retconned. It was interesting when it was the Deviants who killed their own if they deviated too far, based on their own standards. They were expressly the bad guys. Now it’s the heroic godlike beings with godlike names that are committing the genocide in the name of purity? That does not sit well with me morally.

    Beside that, the retcon riddles a lot of the quite lovely mythos of the Marvel Universe with plot holes. But mainly it’s the pogroms that I don’t like.

  8. Dave says:

    “What happens when there’s a war and neither side cares if their soldiers die?”
    – Presumably what happens is that each side’s means of resurrection becomes the focal point of the whole conflict.

    Everything about Moira from the beginning of Inferno onwards has been such a let-down that it retro-actively damages the entire Krakoan era.

  9. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Si- I think it’s great.

    The Eternals literally have no free will in the matter.

    They’re Celestial flesh robot guard dogs.

    Also making the Deviants “orcs it’s fine to kill” is pretty old fashioned in 2022.

    Before the turn into actual rabid monsters that need put down, they’re just people.

    People who have the misfortune of transforming into undesirable variables in the Celestial petri dish.

  10. Diana says:

    I realize pointing out huge, gaping plot holes is kind of moot at this point, but I just realized: if the Waiting Room isn’t dependent on Cerebro backups, shouldn’t Moira be there?

  11. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Well, we’re back to the resurrection protocols somehow restoring the original soul to the revived mutants. Despite dying ten times, Moira’s soul is within the robot body she now occupies.

    (Pay no attention to Moira’s soul we’ve seen several times in different afterlives. Maybe Shi’ar golems have souls as well.)

  12. Drew says:

    Does that Moira “never figured out a cure for the X-gene” stuff work in a world where there have been many, many “cures” for being a mutant? Forge’s gun that prevents a mutant from consciously accessing their powers. The cure Rogue almost took during the Seagle/Kelly run. The cure in Joss Whedon’s run. The High Evolutionary (with help from Sinister) eliminating all mutations at once from a satellite or whatever it was. Wanda’s magic. Inhibitor collars. Et cetera.

    If one wants to say the medical cures proved unstable over time and aren’t a long-term solution, okay. But come on, Moira, there are tons of mutant cures. Don’t try to tell us otherwise.

  13. Michael says:

    @Drew- I think the idea is that Moira was looking for a cure that only prevented NEW mutants from being born/developing powers but didn’t affect current mutants. That could have been worded a bit more clearly in this issue, though.

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  15. Diana says:

    @Krzysiek Ceran: Is it? I thought Moira got her robot body by creating a digital copy of her consciousness – her “soul”, whatever that is, should’ve still died with her body

  16. Chris V says:

    Not really. Hickman seems to define the “soul” as analogous to mind (as opposed to brain). It seems to be similar to what Xavier is doing with Cerebro, recording copies of the consciousness of each mutant and in turn downloading it back into a new copy of their physical form. We saw that post-humanity and the Phalanx were doing the same at the end of Life Six with Ascension, where post-humanity would achieve immortality by having their consciousness uploaded to become one with the Phalanx collective mind and then downloaded into a Dominion. As Hickman described the Dominions, they are “categorically godlike”.
    Moira’s plan for Xavier to make mutantkind immortal in Life Ten was simply giving to mutants in this life what post-humanity and machine intelligence had been attempting to achieve in Moira’s past lives.

  17. wwk5d says:

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  18. MasterMahan says:

    The thing that most bugs me about the Moira mess is that it came *right* after the reveal that Omega Sentinel is from a future where Krakoa wins. Apparently Moira spent lifetimes failing to stop the inevitable rise of posthumanity, and the time she decides to betray mutantkind is the one time they win. Is she just so incompetent that she drags down whatever side she’s on?

    And now she doesn’t even have the cure, so Moira’s betray never even got beyond wishful thinking? She didn’t seem to be trying very hard to recreate it.

    At this point, my best theory is Emma Frost was just lying about finding the betrayal in Moira’s head. But no, the real answer is it’s just a mess.

  19. Thom H. says:

    I still appreciate HoXPoX as an ambitious piece of writing with a lot of potential, but the Totally Amicable and Completely Planned Hickman Exit(tm) has rendered it irrelevant.

    Aside from Evil “I love wearing people” Moira, what did we get that couldn’t have been accomplished by Xavier and/or Magneto just having a good plan to unite mutants?

    HoXPoX inserted Moira into the whole Krakoa scheme, nothing for two years followed up on that idea, then Inferno lifted her right back out. I guess her No-Place was created so she’d have somewhere to do absolutely nothing for that entire time.

  20. Omar Karindu says:

    Thom H. said: Aside from Evil “I love wearing people” Moira, what did we get that couldn’t have been accomplished by Xavier and/or Magneto just having a good plan to unite mutants?

    Yeah. Moira was there as a device to allow the characters to have some understanding of the bigger picture singularity themes, which seem like they were Hickman’s main interest.
    I suppose that Xavier and Magneto would be unlikely to care about Mars or anything, really, beyond Earthly sociopolitical stuff as related to mutants.

    At most, we’re getting some “aliens take an interest” kinds of stories and an upcoming crossover focused mostly on other Marvel Universe factions on present-day Earth. And those are not too far from the ways aliens, the Avengers, and the *ptui* Inhumans have been used in pre-Hickman days.

    My guess is that we’re in the midst of a slow, awkward transition to stories that are broadly “old” X-Men stories, with ORCHIS in the anti-mutant bigot role, but with the intra-mutant factionalism all happening on Krakoa and Arrako. The odder elements, like Arrako and the “we hate AI” stuff will probably be slowly dialed down and forgotten. And I’d bet that we’ll see Arrako-on-Mars destroyed to “raise the stakes” in some future “big” storyline.

  21. Mike Loughlin says:

    Thom H: “HoXPoX inserted Moira into the whole Krakoa scheme, nothing for two years followed up on that idea, then Inferno lifted her right back out. I guess her No-Place was created so she’d have somewhere to do absolutely nothing for that entire time.”

    As much as I liked HoX/PoX and the better issues of Hickman’s X-Men, I put the blame for how Moira’s story has been bungled on his shoulders. I may be wrong, but going by what we saw in the Dawn of X & Reign of X titles he kept her off the board for his own purposes. No other writer used Moira, and she was almost never alluded to. I wish we could have seen her in Krakoan society or at least actively working on something. Now, she’s just a super-villain, and Marvel has enough of those.

  22. Thom H. says:

    @Omar K.: Good point. Turning Mars into an entire world of mutants does tie into Hickman’s singularity/Phalanx/Titans/Dominion stuff, which wouldn’t be a concern without Moira’s far future lives. Maybe we’ll see that come into play again at some point? I can imagine an Al Ewing crossover event tying up those loose ends before we get back to the latest iteration of business as usual.

    @Mike L.: I agree that Hickman should assume a lot of the blame for the reasons you mention. If he had bothered to round out Moira’s character before he left, at least Percy would have had something to work with in X Lives/Deaths. But whatever caused Hickman to exit Marvel without finishing his X-Men story also permanently scratched the ideas he was holding so close to his chest, and I don’t believe that his departure was entirely his decision.

  23. neutrino says:

    @MasterMahan : I’ve been entertaining the theory that time tries to counteract Moira’s use of her past lives’ knowledge by thwarting her actions. I this case though, the timeline where mutants won has been altered by Omega Sentinel founding Orchis.

  24. Diana says:

    @Neutrino: But what, specifically, was altered? If Moira was always planning to reconstruct the cure in life 10 (as Destiny suggests), what exactly did Omega change? How does Orchis change anything?

  25. Josie says:

    I always love when Diana shows up and manages to cut through a lot of the big-picture bullshit in these comics. It’s not nitpicking or poking holes, because a lot of the issues being brought up are central for these stories to work.

  26. Douglas says:

    It’s worth noting that this year’s Spider-Man FCBD issue is also a stealth X-book (if its opening pages bear a strong resemblance to a rather old X-Men storyline, there turns out to be a reason for that).

  27. neutrino says:

    @Diana The biggest change is the creation of Nimrod in his perfected form, years before his prototype came into being in life 10(a). Also the existence of Orchis itself, a group that can withstand multiple attacks from Krakoa.

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