I’m not sure if you were aware of that, but in the gloomy darkness Warhammer 40,000there is a long future only war. Despite billions of deadly soldiers pursues the war the camera more often than not hangs on Space Marines. Over the years, they have become poster boys for an assortment of millennia-long attempts at counter-murder. But there is also nonner – very, very violent nuns – and this week the fighting nuns get their own cartoon.
It is called Warhammer 40,000: Sisters of Battle, and it really is not at all what I was expecting.
Who makes Warhammer 40,000 Sisters of Battle?
Torunn Grønbekk, best known for her work with The Mighty Valkyries, handles the writing. Artist Edgar Salazar (League of Legends: Zed, Rise of the Black Panther, Venom) is on art, while Arif Prianto takes care of the color. Games Workshop obviously has a hand on the ball, as does Kieron Gillen, whose “thank you” gets the same size font as the other people listed here on the front page. He recently knocked Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar, the first Marvel / Games Workshop joint project, right out of the park.
What is Warhammer 40,000 Sisters of Battle about?
This is a book about heresy on the planet Siscia, which has been overtaken by agents of Chaos. It means blood and gore and death and little old ladies who spontaneously turn into giant purple tentacles and eat people’s heads off. Quite common things in the 41st millennium.
Recently arrived at the site are the canoness Veridyan – a beloved character from the old Warhammer lore around 1997 – and a group of troops from the Order of our Martyred Lady. They dress in black armor with red accents and, like all Sisters of Battle, have a preference for flamethrowers. They tend to get the job done and the art in this issue really seeps.
Is reading required?
Absolutely not. The cartoon is designed to be an introduction to the world of 40K, and by and large, it does a very fine job.
Is it a good book?
It is very sure, very messy, almost liturgical in its own bizarre way. There’s not really a main character yet either, but that will hopefully change in number 2 now that the cast has been lost a bit by the aforementioned purple beastie.
It’s just that it’s a little disappointing to read a story that at least so far feels very safe.
Games Workshop has been going through a very slow and very public transformation lately. Traditionally, its franchises have been the exclusive playground for well-heeled white men, and GW’s expensive products as well as their art assets have all repeated that message. Nowhere is this clearer than in the canonical portrayal of the Battle Sisters – sexy, cruel women with slim armor and huge military assets.
But things have changed, as I said. Astra Militarum, also known as the Imperial Guard, has become more and more diverse over the years. A recent short story in White dwarf the magazine was very careful to talk about all the women in uniform fights and dying in the front line. Meanwhile, the mighty Space Marines have become more colorful, too Black and brown faces appears among the range of even the iconic blue-armored Ultramarines. Messages on social media have also been progressive and accommodating. “Warhammer is for everyoneSaid the company last year during the heavy of the Black Lives Matter protests, and it felt good to hear that said.
I expected more of it to shine through here with Sisters of Battle. But not yet, at least. They are well-educated, pious, very attractive women who just follow orders and kick ass and die beautifully in every panel. And that’s fine. Even the somewhat dull alternative cover with art borrowed from John Blanche’s second edition source book, where the canon proudly presents her glittery, four – inch, ceramic and adamantine heels to the camera … that’s fine. That’s just fine.
But Sisters of Battle feels more important for the 40K series than ever before. Here is a group of very talented women who fight and die on the front lines, in the most dangerous warzons in the galaxy. It could just be the case to bring more women into the hobby, and I imagine that’s why the Sisters have highlighted so prominently over the last two years. They have been shown in an extended short story published during a year in White dwarf; in one of the last books published for 8th edition; in a new, fabulous line of plastic miniatures; and in CGI trailer who helped launch the 9th edition of the tabletop game – a trailer that served to raise the faction, a trailer that placed them for the first time in recent memory shoulder to shoulder with the mighty Space Marines, locked in battle against the xenos – the foam of the week.
There must never be female Space Marines ever again, but the Sisters are the second best. GW knows that. I was hoping that this cartoon would help raise them and give them a slightly higher profile, a little more agency. So far, they are just here on orders.
We’ll see if that changes as the series continues to roll out.
A panel that appeared
You will never see a Space Marine mourn, probably because they are literally made without knowing any fear. Seeing a sister shed a tear over her fallen comrades who were stuck in me. It was a good death and a worthy sacrifice, played in a lavish and cinematic battle, and I appreciated the story that lingered there in its aftermath.
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