Written by George Mann | Art by Tazio Bettin | Published by Titan Comics
I must confess to not really know much about Warhammer, other than it is huge in the niche it occupies. I know it was created back in the 1980′s, and has evolved steadily from a humble table top game to the massive success it is now, encompassing games, figures, films, books and comics. Ah, comics, now we are back on safe ground for me. I know BOOM! in the U.S published Warhammer comics, to generally positive reviews, and Warhammer strips appeared in Warhammer Monthly back in the day, so it does have a reasonable four-colour pedigree. I come into reviewing this new series then with neutral eyes.
My main worry approaching any new series like this, one that has a mythology and history to maintain, is that I will get lost right off the bat and not have a clue who anyone is or what they are doing. Three brief bios of some of the main players at the start didn’t fill me with confidence either, and on my first read through I did get a tad lost. Very flowery dialogue (not a criticism of the writer as it is how these characters in their world talk), some quite complex potted history of the characters and their previous activities, and some new opportunity that had just arisen that both sides wished to rush to before the other. Who were the good guys? Both? Neither? And who were the latecomers? Hmmm. I distinctly got the impression I should know who all these people were and why they were doing what they were, most definitely pitching this book at established fans rather than casual readers like myself.
As I guess you would expect in Warhammer, there was a lot of fighting. Everyone seemed to want what was waiting in the Calaphrax Cluster, a place that until recently had been unreachable, and one side on getting there had to engage and fight the mutated inhabitants. A third side had also appeared before the story’s end, certainly upping the anticipation level for next issue even if I didn’t really know what was going on. There was a lot of set up here, scripter George Mann seemingly hoping that we will catch up with the story as we go along. There was a lot of lurking and scheming from the various characters, clearly a lot of agendas at play, but little was revealed this time round. It felt like the old 0 issues that Marvel and DC among others used to publish, setting the scene before the main story started.
As confusing as the story was for me, I thought the art was pretty nice. I liked the crispness, cleanness and panel layout, though at times it felt a little on the simpler side. Artist Tazio Bettin certainly likes a big, expansive panel or two as he got to cut loose over several pages with nary a line of text in sight. The characters and backgrounds all looked very nice throughout.
As I am something of a Warhammer virgin, and this issue had a lot of set-up, I would be a little harsh to be too critical of this first issue. A franchise as big as Warhammer certainly deserves a presence on the shelves, and George Mann is usually a pretty reliable pair of safe hands. Although I didn’t really fully grasp everything that was going on, I could appreciate the way it was structured, and realise the full pay off would be in future issues.
Let’s hope that pay off is worth it.
Warhammer 40k: Will of Iron #1 is out now from Titan Comics