I begin this review with a confession: I do not have a great deal of knowledge about the Warhammer series. Although I’m a fan of it, I’ve never had the time or money to get into it outside of the PC games. So, with that knowledge in hand, it’s time to review Warhammer 40k: Will of Iron from a newcomer’s perspective.
After a thousand years, the violent warp storms surrounding the Calaphrax Cluster have receded, and the ancient battlefront has once again been made open to the universe. With this ancient battlefield free for claiming, multiple forces descend upon it, risking death to attack the sector in hopes of finding knowledge and weapons lost for aeons.
As the story begins we are introduced to a few of the main factions in the fight for the cluster. For those Warhammer fans out there, even the image of these characters will be instantly recognisable. However, for those non-Warhammer fans, I’ll give a quick run-down, so you know a little about the world before going in: Astor Sabbathiel, an inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus (Witch hunters) and her retinue, seeking to expose the truth about the Dark Angels; The Dark Angels, themselves; the Emperor’s Imperium; and finally, the Iron Warriors. Each has their own reasons for wanting the cluster for themselves.
The factions and characters within them are all extremely well written. Each looks and feels vastly different from the next, making it easy to identify every character within the story. The Dark Angels are the first to make planetfall on Exyrion to discover the truth about the weapon used so long ago. Immediately they are drawn into battle against the Warpspawn and the Iron Warriors. Tintaroth is also drawn into the coming conflict. A planet that is also contained within the cluster, Tintaroth proves to be a strategic point, due to its population of isolationists.
Exyrion is well illustrated, a haunting dead world populated with nothing but wreckage, corpses and ancient structures known only to the dead. Tintaroth, on the other hand, is a medieval style world, with castles that still hold onto a great level of might. The war soon escalates, as the Iron Warriors drop into the battlefield and an action-packed war takes place.
The war is the main core event and it’s reminiscent of the historic battle spoken about at the beginning of the volume. Without spoiling too much, the story becomes excitingly addictive, with many brutal, full scale battles reminiscent of the strategy game itself. The investigation into the Dark Angels leads to horrifying discoveries and the Dark Angels are left fighting not only for their lives, through a Hive, but for the future of their faction. The volume ends in a truly spectacular image, expected of a series that has spread over so many forms of entertainmen. It proves to be a conclusion that makes the reader want to not only read the next volume, but to learn more about the Warhammer universe itself.
As the Warhammer universe is so expansive, panels of the volume show large battlefields, worlds, and sometimes many characters at once. This requires the art to maintain a high level of detail and sometimes tell parts of the story to a greater effect than words could possibly do. The volume achieves this well, and oftentimes shows images that words could not do justice to, such as Exyrion and the level of detail of each faction. My favourite is the Iron Warriors design, which is as equally cool as it is creepy. The excellent choice of using different colour palettes depending on the world, ship, or area the characters are in helps to stop the feeling of confusion that often comes quickly with a comic jumping from character to character. From the drab style and brown tone colours used for Exyrion, to the different tones of blue used within the dark cave of the Hive, all of these add to the experience for the reader.
The entire comic is enjoyable to read, although confusing for a newcomer. Nothing is explained in the comic about any of the factions. However, the action and events are still interesting enough to hold attention. I can safely say fans of Warhammer will intensely enjoy Will of Iron and I would recommend it to them the most.