The newest story set in the universe of the tabletop wargame, Warhammer 40,000: Revelations #1 sees its trio of protagonists preparing for a deeper plunge into darkness. Is it good?
Warhammer 40,000: Revelations #1 (Titan Comics)
Though billed as a #1, Warhammer 40,000: Revelations is really the fifth issue in the ongoing series that was billed under the initial arc, Warhammer 40,000: Will of Iron. However, this should not dissuade new readers from trying the book, as the new arc presents a well made jumping on point.
Writer George Mann has a lot to do with this, his narrative calls for a deliberate slowing of the pace as the trio of protagonists (Baltus, Altheous, and Sabbathiel) recover from their previous battle. While it’s easy to imagine some of the jargon in this comic being overwhelming for a reader who doesn’t know what a Space Marine is, Mann presents the narrative in a digestible manner, opening as Sabbathiel experiences a nightmare thanks to the forces of Chaos aboard her ship. The issue continues to build slowly, with Mann revealing the nature of the characters through their actions. One doesn’t have to be well versed in the mythos to recognize Baltus as a soldier who has been affected by a recent battle–his stress is displayed as he falls back onto his training to maintain a sense of order.
“So, like a six-on-six fistfight at an airport, or what?”
The artwork by Tazio Bettin does a nice job of capturing the gothic aesthetic of the universe. From the clothing to the architecture, Bettin brings to life both the archaic and overtly religious aspects of this universe, while also using the body language of his characters to convey their internal struggles. Colorist Enrica Eren Angiolini and color assistant Viviana Spinelli also do a great job in capturing this tone, with golden halos of light filling the interiors. In contrast, Sabbathiel’s confrontation with the demon on board is given a harsh white light which builds a stark tone with the heavy shadows of Bettin’s artwork, highlighting the extremes of good and evil at work in those scenes.
If there is a failing with visual storytelling, it’s that there isn’t really a sense of scale to the issue. Warhammer 40k has always been about large scale battles rendered small for playing purposes, and the intimacy of the issue means that scale is never really felt. Ultimately it may not matter in the long run, but it feels like a place where the issue could have improved.
Is It Good?
A slow buildup focused around its characters gives Warhammer 40,000: Revlations #1 an advantage over many of the books hitting the stands. Licensed comics often struggle with balancing an established fanbase with the need to attract new readers, but George Mann’s script solves this problem by keeping a smaller focus, at least for this first issue in the arc. And while the issue doesn’t always reflect the grandeur of the universe, the operatic and gothic nature of the canon are on full display in the line art and the layouts of Tazio Bettin. For newcomers and fans of the 40k universe alike, Warhammer 40,000: Revelations #1 presents a great opportunity to jump in on the story.