By Laramie Martinez
Earlier this year I got really into games. I’m not talking about Shoots and Ladders, or Candyland, I’m talking about the big names like Chess, Mah Jong, and of course Go. My interest peaked around the same time that AlphaGo defeated Lee Sedol and I will admit the results discouraged me from learning more about these classics. I realized that perfect information games or games where all the information can be seen on the board were actually limited. I wanted something that would mimic a tactical real life battle, and strangely it was this need for something more realistic that took me to probably one of the most outrageous and unrealistic wargames on the market, Warhammer 40k.
For those of you who don’t know, wargaming is a subgenre of gaming which tries to mimic military operations. In the case of Warhammer 40k the game takes place in a fictional universe where alliances of planets battle each other for sumpremecy. And this universe, much like the universes of Dungeons and Dragons or Magic: The Gathering have become way more than just back story for a game. For Warhammer 40k, there already have been countless books and comics written in the universe, the newest being the comic I am about to review titled, Warhammer 40k #1. Now I bet most of you are wondering why the hell I’m talking about something most of you already know. I included a little bit of back story, because the comic does absolutely nothing to introduce the world to new readers. And this choice to just drop the readers into this crazy world ends up being the defining trait of the issue.
As I said in the opening, this comic is not an introductory course. Writer, George Mann, expects you to know a pretty large chunk of the lore of Warhammer 40k specifically the betrayal the Chaos Space Marines. If you have no idea what that means you’ll have some catching up to do. Since the comic doesn’t waste any time on world building, it uses this first issue to introduce characters. The cast isn’t a large one, it looks like it will be a three way battle, with two sides focusing on capturing a third, who hopes to fend the other two off. The writing is pretty standard if you’ve read any of the other books or short stories that take place in the 40k universe. I once heard the 40k novels described as romance novels for nerds and that isn’t too far off. The writing is so purple that it sometimes borders on confusing, but I will say it is consistent with the other stories in the world.
As for the art, Tazio Bettin and Enrica Eren Angiolini provide some decent sci-fi work. I didn’t find anything especially creative with the layouts or color schemes, but there is the occasional panel which gives you a flashback to 1980’s Heavy Metal Magazine. The colors are vibrant, an audacious approach that could be considered garish by some, but again, this is a universe where nuance died with the peacetime. The epic spaceship designs were probably my favorite aspect of this book, there’s something about a spaceship roaring though the void, spiral galaxies and planets in the distance, that just tickles my fancy.
If you like Warhammer 40K odds are you’re going to like this book. It’s a big, hulking brute force kind of book, but the lack of background information make it a hard sell for any newcomer.
Writer: George Mann
Artist: Tazio Bettin
Colorist: Enrica Eren Angiolini
Publisher: Titan Comics