The Warhammer 40,000 universe is huge, it’s filled with dozens of races, hundreds of characters, and thousands of hours of books, games, and comics. Despite this massive amount of lore it seems to be a rare occurrence when it ventures into the medium of comics, which is crazy given how visually striking the designs of Warhammer 40,000 are.
Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch focuses on a small group of Imperial Space Marines that make up a part of the Deathwatch, a specially trained and uniquely equipped section of the Order Xenos, who are charged with the destruction of all alien races the Imperium comes into contact with. Made up of exemplary Space Marines from every chapter, they draw upon the best of the best to make the ultimate fighting force.
Centring the book on the Deathwatch is a great choice, and a really clever creative move. It enables the writer to focus on a handful of characters, rather than squads or even a whole army, and it means that they can include characters with vastly different personalities, experience, and gear that reflect aspects of their original chapters.
The five Space Marines that make up the heroes of the book are Dienekas Agathon of the Imperial Fists, Izrafel of the Flesh Tearers, Kaelar of the Celestial Lions, Rurik Warsong of the Space Wolves, and Tiberius of the Ultramarines. Sent to the mining colony of Sidra to eliminate an infestation of the vicious Ur-Ghul’s, their mission goes horribly wrong when an army of Orks arrives on the planet, trapping the five marines.
This second issue follows the Marines as they make their way through the ruined streets and buildings of Sidra, ascertaining the sheer volume of the Ork invasion they face, and trying to find a way to escape the planet. Despite the Deathwatch being some of the best Marines in the whole galaxy, we see over the course of the issue that they’re massively outnumbered as they’re hunted by thousands of Orks. It’s a nice change of pace to see the normally super-human Space Marines being the side against overwhelming odds, where their lives are in danger, as it would be very easy to fall into the trap of making them close to unstoppable.
The danger faced by the Marines is highlighted when Agathon has to fight an Ur-Ghul alone, a fight that results in his armour broken, and the loss of one of his arms. Having previously seen Agathon easily dispatch an Ork in single combat, it’s definitely a surprise when he’s so harshly beaten.
The five heroes of Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch face dire odds, with no apparent way of escaping the horrors of Sidra, and their leader heavily wounded. This being the Warhammer 40,000 universe, where everything is grim and full of horror, there’s no guarantee that things will work out for them in the coming issues.
Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch #2 is now available from Titan Comics.