Monday, December 12, 2016

Warhammer 40k Comic Books

As I've mentioned before, I'm not just a mini wargamer, but I'm an avid comic book fan as well. While I don't write a comic book blog, it feels like I should write a post on miniature-based comic books when I find them.

However, I want to stress that I am not just a comic book fan. I'm a comic book fanatic.

I've made comic books. I've written comic books. I co-own a comic book store. My 5,000+ book collection takes up a second bedroom in my home. I proposed to wife in a comic book. I'm friends with other comic creators. What I'm trying to say here is that I know comics inside and out and I can be quite a comic book snob. 

This is my grain-of-salt warning.

London based Titan Comics has been publishing comic books based on licensed properties like television shows (Doctor Who,) video games (Assassin's Creed,) and other comic properties (2000AD) for almost 40 years. In October, they released the first issue of "Warhammer 40,000: Will of Iron," based on Games Workshop's miniature game,Warhammer 40k.

The story kicks off as high level Dark Angels are mustering to set off to a planetary system that has been cut off from the galaxy due to Chaotic storms but has recently become accessible. A cabal of upper level Dark Angels are afraid that this new access will expose some of the chapters dark secrets. Meanwhile, an Inquisitor also gathers her troops to head off to the same system to uncover those very secrets for herself and presumably use that information to purge the Dark Angles from the Imperium. Also, a group of Iron Warriors heads off to the same system, for what purpose, we do not know.

The story is pretty typical fluff that folds nicely within the confines of the "current" timeline in 40k. Dark Angels, vs Inquisition, vs Chaos. The First Chapter of Space Marines is not one of my favorites and so I'm a little biased when it comes to the choice of protagonists; I'm just not a fan. Despite loving most the of armies of the Terra, I'm also not a fan of the Inquisition. Grey Knights are ok, but the meddling Inquisitors aren't in any of my armies. The Iron Warriors are my second favorite traitor Legion behind Alpha Legion, so I am pleased that there is a faction that I'm interested in reading about. 

Like I mentioned, the plot is pretty standard but I like the element of mystery behind the Dark Angels motivations, presumably trying covering up evidence to the fact that half their legion betrayed the Emperor during the Horus Heresy is a great "broomstick catalyst."

Despite my dislike of the organization, I think the Inquisition are great antagonists. There's nothing more infuriating and frustrating than administration and bureaucracy. In Harry Potter, I thought Deloris Umbridge was a more despicable villain than "he who shall not be named." The smugness and futility that a villain from the "hollier than thou" administration is more relatable than trying to overcome a threat from an antagonist that is only bent on mindless killing.

Unfortunately, the Iron Warriors were just briefly mentioned in the first issue and have little contribution to the story at this point. I'm sure they will become the biggest threat to the Dark Angels and likely will unite the two armies of the Imerium so they can fight a common foe.

Comics based on mini games are a lot like movies based on video games. Typically, they aren't good and while there are a few memorable bits, but it's obviously just a property licensed to explore options for monetization to a fan base that is hungry for more. 

Games Workshop has mastered this process by hooking game fans on the Black Library novels based on the the fluff of the various games and it makes sense that GW continues to publish comics based on their games. While GW comics in the past haven't enjoyed the success that the Horus Heresy novels have brought to 40k, I think the comics are a great addition to fans who want to explore more stories set in their favorite game.

Overall, I'd give Warhammer 40,000: Will of Iron a solid B. The art isn't great but the mystery is intriguing. If your friendly local game store isn't carrying the comics, check out your friendly local comic book store and see if you can find a copy. Each issue has a variety of covers (really just a publishing ploy to sell more books to completists.)