Axistential Crisis: “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #1 [Review/Recap]

By | October 10th, 2014
Posted in Columns | 8 Comments

Only weeks after the conclusion to “Original Sin”, “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #1 lands on shelves. We called “Original Sin” the craziest event comic Marvel ever published and after reading the first issue of “AXIS” we think we’re going to need to make a retraction. As with “Original Sin”, we’ll be doing a spoiler-free review followed by a spoiler-filled recap!

Written by Rick Remender
Illustrated by Adam Kubert


• The Red Skull has exploited the gifts of the world’s greatest telepath to broadcast pure hatred across the globe. Now, born of the murder of Charles Xavier, World War Hate has begun.

• Tony Stark discovers a secret truth that will upend not only his life, but also the lives of everyone he cares for.

• Can The Avengers and X-Men finally unite? Would their combined strength be enough to hold back the darkness of the Red Onslaught?

• Magneto murdered the wrong man, releasing the greatest evil the Marvel Universe has ever known. Now Rogue and Scarlet Witch are all that stand in its way.

I’m going to admit a fault in my analysis of “AXIS”. I haven’t been keeping up with “Uncanny Avengers” since the Apocalypse Twins story arc and I regretfully never picked up Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s “Magneto”. As such, I’m a little behind on some of the build-up to this title, which is a shame as certain issues like “Magneto” #10 are pivotal to the story here. That said, I’m glad I didn’t pick up any of the “March to AXIS” comics, as diving into “AXIS” #1 headfirst led to the seven craziest minutes of my life.

Before I get into the details of why “AXIS” wins the award for Hottest Mess of 2014, it’s important to note that Remender does an excellent job in immediately making the stakes in the comics as high as possible. While other #1 comics take a while to get to the story at large, “AXIS” does not let up for a single page. It is hype, after hype, after hype with tentacle Nazis, horrible secrets, and an event actually called World War Hate. Without a doubt, it’s one of the raddest comics to exist if only for the massive scale it effortlessly finds itself on.

And a lot of that massive scale is achieved thanks to Andy Kubert who crafts tableaus of destruction that are almost overwhelming. While a lot of event comics can feel like extensions of other story lines, especially since this one is a continuation of “Uncanny Avengers”, Kubert’s art makes it obvious this is an event. There’s a few hiccups in the details, Red Skull occasionally can’t tell if he’s wearing a mask or is literally a skull, but other moments like Red Onslaught standing over the heroes are just so epic that small details can be overlooked. If anything, they add to how monstrous the Red Skull looks.

Kubert’s art is hardly subtle which is perfect for a comic like “AXIS”, where everyone screams for twenty pages so Red Skull can call out a dark secret that causes people to scream every further. Hell, the title of this issue is “We Will All Be Dead Tomorrow”. “AXIS” doesn’t pretend to be anything other than the humongous blockbuster it is, which is evident by the cliché plot revolving around heroes mind-controlled into fighting each other. Aside from how vile a villain Red Onslaught is and the dark secret he reveals towards the end, there isn’t much new here, and all the concepts that are new carry a weird, almost incomprehensible logic, with them.

Characters in “AXIS” enter from wherever, and sometimes are just present. Cyclops is actually imprisoned behind a wall Magneto conveniently crashes through so they can yell at each other. Some characters drop like flies to characters who burst in from offstage so they can make their point, even if they don’t really have one. The pacing here is insane, even for a comic that’s mostly a Nazi in tentacle armor screaming at the X-Men.

And while “AXIS” seems like it’d make for a great fast-paced comic, the pace is slowed down by weird one-liners spewed by everyone and their mother. Apparently everyone in the Marvel Universe took stand-up lessons from Spidey sometime in the past week because they all need a novel’s worth of space to express their jokes. The X-Men straight up make fun of the Summers Family for an entire page in the middle of a battle with a guy who just killed one of their most loved characters. As warranted as mocking the Summerses may be, it just feels like a distraction from the actual 100-foot tentacle Nazi who is presumably standing around and waiting for everyone to pay attention to him again. It’s definitely a distraction from the major character who got stabbed, never to be heard from again.

Continued below

There’s a few more flaws with “AXIS”, and we’ll talk about them in the recap below, but I can’t say it’s a comic I didn’t enjoy. I’m all for maniacal yelling and explosions, characters named Ahab being taken seriously, yet it feels like a case of too much too soon. “AXIS” is overwhelming, both in its scale and in the terrible decisions characters make which range from cliché to laughable.

Final Verdict: 6.8 – “AXIS” is a fun, wild, and one of the boldest debuts of a crossover comic ever. It is also b-a-n-a-n-a bananas. I’d hate to talk about why without discussing spoilers so let’s move on to the recap.

Last time on “AXIS”: Red Skull stole Professor X’s brain and now has his telepathy because that’s how mutants work. With these new powers, he’s assemble an army of S-Men and turned Genosha into a concentration camp because Red Skull got really anxious that people might forget he’s a Nazi. The Uncanny Avengers showed up and got their asses kicked by him because they can’t do anything but make borderline racist speeches or die. Thankfully, Magneto was there to straight up smash Red Skull’s, er, skull in and kill him. Everyone celebrated for a second until Red Skull used Xavier’s powers to come back to life as Red Onslaught!(?) Now that he’s achieved his final form, Red Skull is sending out his negative vibes to kickstart World War Hate.

Meanwhile, The Avengers are fighting Plant Man because their lives are easier.

Apparently the latest events of everyone’s solo series have caught up with the Avengers as Thor’s in axe mode and the Hulk has been replaced by Doc Green who’s like the regular Hulk but as done with everybody as I am.

Actually, scratch that. Everyone is done with everyone as seen when Thor and Falcon throw shade at each other over who gets the right to take on Plant Man which is the saddest argument to ever erupt from a Marvel comic, even after everyone spent four months fighting over The Watcher. The Vision, the comic book equivalent of a dirty Wet-Nap, begins to get snarky too and Doc Green straight up smashes into Iron Man and screams about the events of “Original Sin” as if there wasn’t a five-issue miniseries dealing with that subject already. Instead of dealing with the fact that he totally cursed Bruce Banner to an objectively awful life, Stark realizes this must be the work of telepathy and uses a switch to alter his mood back into not killing him. I don’t want to spoil anyone to this issue’s ending, but Iron Man’s a dick.

Steve Rogers calls from the Avengers mansion to reveal his Red Skull sense has gone off, and that Schmidt is currently broadcasting hate all across the globe. Apparently the Avengers Unity Squad forgot when Red Skull said he would do precisely that during the first arc of “Uncanny Avengers”.

Speaking of “Uncanny Avengers”, reluctant protagonist Alex Summers is in bed with his wife Wasp (What?) and daughter (What?!) only to turn around to find Professor X’s ghost (WHAT?!) and this:


Red Skull is trying to lure Alex onto his side by reminding him of his nonexistent daughter from “Uncanny Avengers” which sounds like a pretty terrible plan. For one, Red Skull is already a giant tentacle monster. He does not need help from the sixth best Summers family member. Second, If Alex wants his daughter back he can get back with Jan, who is fine and in Avengers Tower, and wait a couple years. Unless… is Red Skull offering to make the baby with Alex himself? My god, he is evil.

Alex then proceeds to wake up under some of Red’s telepathic influence and decides that he has to kill both Red Onslaught and Magneto who are also in the middle of killing each other. As for Alex’s decision, Red Skull? Yes, he makes perfect sense to kill. Magneto? Magneto may not be a perfect citizen but he is one of three people fighting Red Onslaught. Does Alex actually think he and his team can take Red Skull on their? They couldn’t handle a press conference on their own.

Continued below

If the series ends with Havok telling Red Skull “We’re all one race, bruh!”, I will eat my hat.

Also, Scarlet Witch and Rogue are back from the dead. No, I won’t look up how that happened. That said, Red Skull mind-controls Wanda and calls her “My love”, joining the ranks of Dr. Doom in terms of super villains who need to calm their shit around Scarlet Witch.

Soon, Magneto gets kicked by Red Onslaught through a wall to a room where Cyclops, Quentin Quire, and Kid Apocalypse are just hanging out, chained to the wall, NBD. Magneto tries to warn them of what’s going on with Red Skull until Alex, an utter cock, runs in to scream about how Magneto killed Red Skull and then tackles Cyclops for murdering Xavier two years ago. Again, Red Skull was literally a Nazi who came back a hot second later and Professor Xavier once, among other awful things, sent their third brother to die only for him to become a genocidal space warlord named Vulcan. I’m not saying either are justified but given the tentacle situation, I’m sure we could just reconsider our priorities.

Kid Apocalypse AKA Genesis AKA Evan Sabah Nur AKA we never settled on this character’s name agrees, and tries to get everyone to calm down and think through this situation rationally. He is immediately harpooned through a chest by a dude named Ahab and I’m going to be honest, I completely lost it here. I had no idea there was an actual X-Men villain named Ahab, that he had joined Red Skull’s X-Men or that he would kill one of the best new X-Men characters of the last five years.

Who the hell gets killed by a guy named Ahab? A whale? I’m sure Evan’s going to get resurrected in a hot second since this is a Remender comic but couldn’t there be any other character that could kill him? Oh, who cares. Not the X-Men evidently as no one ever brings up the fact that the child version of Apocalypse was murdered right in front of them. A murder that happened two years ago is enough to divide the Summers brother, but the death of a child gets a “EVAN!” from Havok and nothing else. Also, Quentin Quire is standing around and, in an out of character move, has kept his mouth shut.

Over at Avengers Tower, Wasp is upset because of the now erased future where she and Havok had a daughter. I would cry if I banged Alex Summers too.

I wish I knew why I was doing this column too, Jan.

Back at Genosha, Rogue touches the Red Skull and gets a look into his psyche, which is actually a remnant of Professor X left over in Red Skull’s brain. Chuck tells Rogue that all hope for his legacy rests in her hands, adding “The task seems impossible, but of all my students I cannot imagine one more capable.”

I can imagine seven off the top of my head. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rogue but I always thought of her less as Xavier’s student and more as general ragamuffin who’s down for being labeled an X-Man. What about someone more dedicated to the cause like Cyclo- oh right. Uh, fine Rogue it is.

Anyway, Scarlet Witch breaks free from Red Skull’s control and meets up with Rogue so I’m glad to see they’re the defect protagonists for this crossover since they’re the only ones not totally under Skull’s control. Honestly, a female-led superhero crossover is something we haven’t really seen before. At least until Kluh takes over the show.

Anyway, all the calvary decide to show up at precisely this moment. The Avengers show up to say they’re glad to be here, even though World War Hate is being waged off-panel and someone should at least check that, and The X-Men show up because they mistook this situation for an open mic. Seriously, Ahab stabs Cyclops and gloats about how great it will feel to kill a Summers so Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus jump in and talk about “The Summers Variety Hour”. For a whole page, they beat up Ahab and go on about how Cable does a spectacular mime routine. Does Red Onslaught’s powers make heroes fight each other or just make them confident enough to call Cyclops an idiot to his face. Either way, being punched by a Russian who’s yelling about Corsair’s “fabulous Spaceman Spiff dance” is the only way Ahab could have died. Rest in piss, you clown.

Continued below

Thankfully, murdering that piss clown is enough to bring the Summers brother together again as they share a hug. Golly, they look so happy together. I sure hope the Red Skull doesn’t tear everyone apart with a horrid secret. Or use a very regrettable font.

Oh, there we go. Yes, after the events of ‘World’s Most Wanted’ Tony Stark still held a fucker of information from the Civil War files. That he then gave to Red Skull. Well, it must have been pretty recently if Red Skull had his telepathy powers during this encounter. I’m sure not much has come from those pla-

…couple things.

  1. I love there’s only two Adamantium sentinels. Having one would have made it look like one Stark Sentinel is a huge threat and three would make it seem like Onslaught has a huge army at his disposal, but two just makes it look like he didn’t have enough time to make enough sentinels before Magneto murdered him. I’m going to say the latter is canon.
  2. What does Red Skull need the sentinels for if he’s already a kaiju-sized tentacle Nazi? To break through those annoying AXIS banners that surround every page?
  3. So Iron Man’s a villain now, right? “Superior Iron Man” aside, the guy worked with a Nazi, is the literal leader of the Illuminati and has facial hair. Sure, he was mind controlled by Red Skull but he’s still the only hero present to have built murderbots for Red Skull and, I cannot stress this enough, leads the Illuminati.

At this point the inversion thing isn’t going be the heroes being brainwashed. It’ll just be them sitting around and moping about what utter cocks they already were.

Join us next week for “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” #2 when World War Hate rages on.

//TAGS | Axistential Crisis | Multiversity Rewind

James Johnston

James Johnston is a grizzled post-millenial. Follow him on Twitter to challenge him to a fight.


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