Last October, Marvel Comics launched their first-ever Warhammer 40,000 comic book to much acclaim. The brutal story introduced readers to the grimdark universe where war never ends. There’s profound lore within Warhammer 40k that Marvel could mine for decades, and this week writer Torunn GrØnbekk and artist Edgar Salazar aim to explore the Sisters of Battle.
Warhammer is an exciting sci-fi universe as it plunges readers into a galaxy where war is the norm, religion is extreme, and violence is always the right choice. GrØnbekk opens the issue with a man in cobbled together armor throwing what appear to be religious priests off a very high ledge. The planet of Siscia is under siege, and the city is burning all around them. An emperor rules over the common people who have a low life expectancy due to pollution and the need to work themselves to death. It’s a very dire situation, which makes the violence and immediacy of the Sisters all the more merciful.
This is a spoiler-free review, though you can get the gist from the preview that much violence is to be had. GrØnbekk does well to explore the machinations of politics via some rather compelling and sometimes poetic captions. These drive the narrative via an unseen narrator, giving the comic an RPG feel. At its core, the heroes of this story are trying to figure out what is going on on Siscia and resolve the violence best they can.
Salazar draws a dynamic issue, with little details in clothes, guns, and environments that help sell this sci-fi world. There are a few pages reminiscent of Greg Capullo’s level of detail, and the inks add to that. It’s a darker-toned book, too, thanks to Arif Prianto’s colors. Surprisingly, the book is light on gore, though what the Sisters fight against near the end of the book is undoubtedly frightening.
A pro and a con of Warhammer comics is how deep this lore goes, and how the creators navigate that to make it understandable to unfamiliar readers. With limited knowledge of Warhammer, I can safely say this issue offers a compelling world and enough detail to figure things out, but it still feels like I’m missing out on something a hardcore fan is lapping up. These characters are clearly established elsewhere, and it can feel like this book is only skimming the surface. The larger purpose of the planet gets a handy data page, but it’s still tricky to honestly know what is going on here.
Warhammer 40,000: Sisters of Battle #1 is a solid start to Marvel’s second Warhammer series. GrØnbekk supplies interesting captions that add layers to a complex world clearly worth exploring. And while it does feel like a healthy knowledge of the Warhammer universe and its characters would make this a richer reading experience, there’s still enough here to scratch that violent war-loving itch.
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