In Review: Warhammer 40,000 #6

I was disappointed in this book, but I'm hoping that the conclusion will impress.

The covers: A trio to find could become your holy quest to increase your status among your chapter. The A cover is by Blair Shedd. This features Dark Angels Space Marine Baltus blasting his way though some type of warp spawned Chaos, whose tentacles seek to ensnare him. The coloring on this is too soft to find much focus. The layout is good, but the marine’s limbs are lost among the tentacles, and the debris coming from his blaster only makes the piece more chaotic. Bright colors would have helped immensely. The B is by Jimbo Salgada and Marco Lesko and this is gorgeous. Interrogator-Chaplain Altheous standing atop his defeated foes while standing before the runs of some ancient cog. The fiery destruction of the conflict rages as a backdrop. The character looks spectacular and the colors make this epic. A superior cover. The C comes courtesy of Tazio Bettin and Enrica Eren Angiolini. This looks like it was inspired by some of the miniatures for the wargame, as I swear I’ve seen these figures before. Before the crumbling ruins of a cathedral, Athrel raises his chainsword high with a bellow. He’s surrounded by three of his fellow Dark Angels. As with the A cover, the colors are too soft. Everything just blurs together, with the shadow effect on the right side of the image just too darned dark. Overall grades: A C, B A+, and C B

The story: The second chapter of George Mann’s “Revelations” opens with three Eldar Harlequins leaping down upon the reader with blades drawn. A narrator relates the Eldar’s fall from domination of the cosmos, ending with how their decadence allowed the birth of a hungry god of excess to awaken, “And all but a scattered handful would be consumed.” The story transitions to the hulk floating in orbit around Pandrosar. Lone Dark Angel Space Marine Baltus makes his way through one of the corridors. He calls for his comrade Athrel, but receives no answer. Entering a room, he comes across the mauled body of his missing brother. A hiss causes him to turn, discovering a monstrous Chaos Marine behind him wielding a mighty battle axe. The expected action is left to go to Quintus, focusing now on Inquisitor Sabbathiel. This sums up how this issue goes: some time with the Eldars, then to Baltus, and then to Sabbathiel. A story can be told with three different strands, but there needs to be some transitioning, and that doesn’t occur very smoothly. This is due partially to the visuals, but that lies in the script the artist received not being clear enough. I read this book once and was lost. With a much more slow read I got the gist of what was occurring. I’ve nothing wrong with a comic that takes a while to read, but this just wasn’t a tidy story; for example, the change between Pages 14 and 15 had me momentarily lost because the characters on 14 are about to enter an ancient structure, and the tiny characters on 15 are entering a structure that does look old — but these are two different locations with two different people. I’m fan enough of Warhammer 40K to see this through the next two issues to see how this story concludes. My hopes are not as high as they were when I began to read this saga, however. Overall grade: C+

The art: The art looks terrific at times, and not so much at others. Tazio Bettin uses a very thick line for the visuals on this work, and it makes most characters and settings seem clunky. This can work with Space Marines, but out of armor characters look clumsy. This happens on the pages with Eldar. This race is supposed to be lithe and incredible acrobats as they move to kill their opponents. The first page has them looking heavy. And why is blood already flying up at them on this splash page before they’ve even fought? Their blades are clean; this makes no sense. The melee that’s part of Pages 2 and 3 is very difficult to make out, such as who struck the man in the bottom left? There’s a blood trail coming out of his wound, but it’s not attached to any of the Eldars’ blades, so his killer is unclear. Much better is Page 4 which features Baltus’s discovery of Athrel. The arrival of the Chaos Marine on 5 is excellent, with its arrival lost in the darkness. Things continue to improve with Sabbathiel’s story, who looks fantastic, as does her ship and men. 10 and 11 also look good, with Bettin really making the most of black to highlight what’s hidden in the darkness. 12 and 13 suffer from 2 and 3’s problem of too heavy a line, making it hard to find a focus. 14 has the characters too far from the reader and 15 should also have been brought in much closer. 16 and 17 returns to outstanding artwork, with 18 – 20 being a solid action scene. 21 is again too far from the reader, with the third panel on the page having absolutely no meaning because one can’t tell what is being looked at. The final page is okay, but again, too dark and lacking fine details. The art on this book is serviceable, but not memorable. Overall grade: C-

The colors: The Warhammer 40K universe is dark. I’ve been reading books from the Black Library for over a decade, I know it is. But for a visual medium, like comics, it needs to be lightened up so the horrors can at least be seen. Enrica Eren Angiolini, and color assistant Viviana Spinelli, should have cheated more with the medium. The first three pages could have been salvaged with lighter colors and the focus put on the fight on 2 and 3, downplaying the origin story. 4 looks good and 5 has just enough colors to show the approaching horror. Page 6 is gorgeous, while 7 nicely sets the tone with dark tans before the opening of the hatch. 8 and 9 are also tops, but 10 could have lightened, and 12 and 13 are as messy as 2 and 3 for the exact same reason. Only Sabbathiel’s story has consistently good coloring, while the other two stories meander in and out of perfection to overkill. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Narration, scene settings, dialogue, sounds, transmissions, and the three word closing tease are created by Rob Steen. His work is consistently strong. This series needs to have some killer sound effects, given the creatures and tech that are used, and Steen does not disappoint. His scene settings are also incredibly large — the largest I’ve seen in recent comics — and doing so makes their appearances seem incredibly dramatic. I’m liking what Steen is doing. Overall grade: A

The final line:  I’m a huge fan of George Mann, and he was the reason I picked up this book and tracked down the issue before it. I’m going to read the next two issues, I can’t stop halfway through. However, I was disappointed in this, but I’m hoping that the conclusion will impress. Overall grade: C

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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