By Patrick Wolf
While I’m largely unfamiliar with the Dawn of War III video game, I found its comic book adaptation to be mostly fun and exciting. Of course, the story did have a few setbacks, but nothing too major to distract me from the overall intrigue and adventure that drew me to the series in the first place.
Dawn of War III follows Sgt. Olivarr and Sgt. Tarkus on their quest to find their missing commander Gabriel Angelos. Armed with just the weapons they’re carrying, the sergeants land on a mysterious planet with the hope of finding some clues. Unfortunately, their arrival is immediately met with heavy resistance from a platoon of Orks as well as another alien faction: ‘the Eldar’.
Right off the bat, I want to make it clear that Dawn of War III isn’t perfect. To begin with, its kinetic scenes—such as its use of flashbacks, parallelism, and action—are often so confused and jumbled that they’re practically unintelligible. When I read a comic, I want the kinetic scenes to be as fluid and clear as water. Having to continuously flip back-and-forth just to get an idea of what’s going on shouldn’t be happening in a high-end franchise like the Warhammer 40K universe.
Adding to this problem is the often indistinguishable features of the characters. I get it, they’re soldiers, and so they’re supposed to wear similar uniforms. But if I don’t know who-the-hell-is-who, not only is it hard for me to follow the story but also it’s hard for me to root for any of these guys since they’re all just variations of each other.
To make matters worse, none of the characters have any voice. All of them have the exact same coarse personality, and none of them appear to have any depth that goes beyond the scope of their mission. Of course, this is only the first issue, and there are only 22 pages, so I’m going to give O’Sullivan some leeway here. That said, I hope to see future issues include a little more subtext in the dialogue, so I don’t feel like I’m constantly observing a pack of tough guys who are almost as interchangeable as storm troopers. I mean, who the hell is who?
In spite of these drawbacks, Dawn of War III still has a lot to offer. For one, the sense of bigness and adventure makes me want to keep reading. This story looks like it’s going to be huge—maybe not Lord of the Rings huge, but pretty big nonetheless. Who doesn’t want to get in on that? Also, the comic series is supposed to be a precursor for the new Dawn of War III video game that just released last month. So, if you’re into the game and want to know more about the story’s background, this series was made for you.
Another point I want to make is that I’ve been a little too hard on this book so far. Yes, it has some technical problems, but these issues are by far outweighed by the comic in totality. For starters, the artwork is outstanding. Indro’s illustrations are so intricate and life-like, you feel like you’re actually in the war zone. And Kevin Enhart’s colors also do an excellent job of conveying the gloom and hopelessness of this world, while at the same time not taking away from the general vibrancy of the costumes and space scenes.
In essence, Dawn of War III is a fun read with a lot of action and cool artwork to boot. While the characters are a little hard to differentiate and the actions scenes are a little disjointed, the overall story is intriguing enough for us to want more. This is also just the first issue of the franchise, so I’m sure we’ll become better acquainted with the characters and the plot as the series progresses. Overall, I like the franchise so far, and I want to see more.
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War III #1
Writer: Ryan O'Sullivan
Artist: Daniel Indro
Colorist: Kevin Enhart
Letterer: Rob Steen
Publisher: Titan Comics