It’s often difficult to keep track of who did what to whom in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. It’s so hard that you could easily imagine George R.R. Martin painting a few space marine figures while he planned the rough storyboard for Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, this initial issue of the Warhammer 40,000: Will of Iron mini-series doesn’t really provide you with much in the way of back-story either. Before the story begins you get some brief character bios for the main cast and then you’re on your way.
That doesn’t make Warhammer 40,000: Will of Iron any different from Superman’s latest comic offering, or anything that has the Transformers logo slapped on it; however, don’t forget that those mainstream pop-culture franchises have had major movies in the last few years. My dad knows that Optimus Prime is the leader of extraterrestrial robots, but no one knows who the heck Altheous is—for the record he’s a main character in this four part mini-series of comics. To make myself clear, the lack of a primer doesn’t mean that anyone at Titan Comics, the publisher behind the Warhammer 40,000: Will of Iron mini-series, did anything wrong. It just means that this should not be the first thing you pick up that has the Warhammer 40,000 label on it.
I’m also not convinced that it is something you should pick up just yet. Pacing issues are to part one of Will of Iron as Twinkies are to a hemp convention. I won’t ruin the plot of this book for anyone; however, the first five or six pages set up the fact that the first legion of Space Marines, the Dark Angels, must rush to an abandoned planet for reason that will be explained later. As soon as the Dark Angels finally start moving we’re taken to another sector of space. Here, an Inquisitor and her support team take five or six pages to discuss going to the same planet for the same reason. It seemed a little unnecessary to double down on this one point when there is so little space in each book. Thankfully the third and final group of this space drama arrives in the final few panels to basically say we’re here too.
That’s not to say that the pages of this book are filled with trash. Writer George Mann is clearly planning out a thrilling story that could see the Dark Angels completely destroyed if a long forgotten secret falls into the wrong hands. The reason I want to keep reading Will of Iron is that the wrong hands include people that we would commonly refer to as the good guys.
Artist Tazio Bettin and colourist Enrica Eren Angiolini are not slacking off either. They’re really pulling out all the stops to sell the 40,000 universe. Every panel gives off the old and decaying atmosphere that you would expect from a crumbling society that is barely holding itself together. Once the fight kicks off—this is a Games Workshop property so something is going to fight—the panels turn into a colourful carnival of carnage. I even wish to credit them with a panel that literally made me think, ‘whoa this is impressive looking.’ I know that sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it’s an impressive feat for a book with only 7 pages of action. The rest of the book consists of people standing around hinting at some mystery lost on a dead planet.
By the end of the book, the people at Titan Comics show off a few panels that set up the next issue and it looks to be an exciting one. I have a feeling that this first issue will be the solid foundation for a thrilling story, but that’s the biggest problem with this particular issue. Regardless of it being comics, makeup, charities, houses, education, or computer programming, there’s really only so much that can be accomplished with a foundation alone. That’s why I think the first part of Warhammer 40,000: Will of Iron is worth your money, but you might want to wait and hand it over when part two is released on Nov 9, 2016.