Warhammer 40,000: Will Of Iron by George Mann, Tazio Bettin, Enrica Eren Angiolini and Rob Steen (graphic novel review)

July 20, 2017 | By | Reply More

‘Warhammer 40,000: Will Of Iron’ collects Warhammer 40,000 # 0-4. It’s part of the extensive Warhammer universe, based on games, which can be confusing if you’re new to it as I am.

To give credit where it’s due, there’s a useful cast list preceding the actual story to let you know who’s who. Pictures and text in green boxes on page four inform us about one side in the conflict. Space Marine Baltus, for example, is part of the Lion’s Blade Strike Force of Dark Angels Space Marines. He’s devoted and loyal but not yet aware of his Chapter’s dark past. Sergeant Kalidius, on the other hand, does know some of those secrets and Interrogator Chaplain Altheous (skeleton face mask, hood) knows all of them. These and three other fellows are in green panels on page four.

On the opposite page are brown panels for what is presumably the opposition or at least some of it. Inquisitor Sabbathiel is a lady in an Elizabeth I style outfit who’s prepared to do anything to root out heresy. She has a technician, two warriors and a weaponsmith in her crew as well as a warp-spawned entity imprisoned in the bowels of her ship. Daemon Host is ‘a daemon bound to the physical form of a living human host’, only barely living by the look of him. Certainly a dramatic cast.

Unlike cinema, comic format doesn’t allow for the introductory words spectacularly rolling towards you in widescreen but you can imagine it. A page of text informs us that after ten thousand years of isolation, cut off by a warp storm, the Calaphrax Cluster is now accessible. In the war-torn 41st millennium, the different factions want to go there and see what they can grab. The Dark Angels want to go there and cover up evidence of some long forgotten secret.

Exyrion is the former capital of the Calaphrax Cluster, so it is on that world the forces converge. Inquisitor Sabbathiel rides a starship with stained glass windows to make clear the church allegory. The Dark Angels are warriors who serve the Emperor of an Imperium. Then the Iron Warriors show up to complicate things. My impression is that they fought a great battle ages ago on Exyrion and lost to the Dark Angels.

On Exyrion, Baltus discovers an underground tunnel network and a hive full of life-forms. He gets readings on it using his tricorder, which he calls an auspex. Meanwhile, Interrogator Chaplain Altheous goes to Tintaroth, another planet in the cluster, to get its rulers on his side in the upcoming conflict.

The plot is good. The script by writer George Mann is dramatic and the art by Tazio Bettin is striking. The colouring hurt my eyes a bit but that’s the way of things now. There are lots of men in big armour with big guns, capes, sword and skull motifs and a general rip-roaring mash up of mediaeval imagery with super technology. I think Jack Kirby started all this with his version of Asgard.

‘Warhammer 40,000: Will Of Iron’ was so good I had to read it twice. Actually, it was so confusing I had to read it twice but that’s because I am unfamiliar with ‘Warhammer’ and I must say I enjoyed the second reading even more. This is solid, action-packed, brutal military SF of the same ilk as ‘ABC Warriors’. One of the blurbs says it’s a great introduction to the ‘Warhammer 40,000’ world and it is but you may need to read it twice unless you’re smarter than me, which is distinctly possible. If you’re already a ‘Warhammer 40,000’ fan, of course, once should suffice.

I liked it. Once upon a long ago ‘Warhammer’ had a magazine called ‘Inferno’ which featured prose stories set in their worlds and I read a copy and liked that, too. There’s a whole Black Library of novels, too. It’s a rich universe with many interesting characters for writers to play with, a recipe for success and good gory fun.

Eamonn Murphy

July 2017

(pub: Titan Books. page graphic novel. Price: £13.99 (UK), $16.99 (US), $22.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78585-812-3)

check out website: www.titan-comics.com

Category: Comics, Superheroes

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About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy lives in the west country and grew up reading Asimov, Heinlein, lots of other old SF and Marvel Comics. After many years hard labour he has settled down to a quiet life with a nice lady, two rescue dogs and four ducks. He writes reviews for crowsnest and a few short stories, some of which even get published in obscure magazines. His self-published (Beware!) horror novel 'Arnos Hell' set in a Bristol graveyard is available on Amazon as a kindle book. His YA novelette 'The Brigstowe Dragons' will be published shortly by Alban Lake. He seldom blogs at https://eamonnmurphyblog.wordpress.com/

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