After what seems like forever, the first issue of the Marneus Calgar comic series is out! Keri and I were particularly excited for this series because of our love of comics. I was even more so because I’ve been a long-time Kieron Gillen fan (read Die if you haven’t!). After reading the first issue, I’m not only fully on board with the concept, I’m dying to know what comes next.
Marneus Calgar explained
Marneus Calgar is arguably the most well-known of the Chapter Masters.* The comic starts off post-rift, with Calgar and a new tech adept surveying an invaded planet. There is plenty of violence and gore, sure, but also a more calculating view. Why are there cultists on a planet so far in-system? Given what we know from the Dark Imperium, why are these Khorne and not Nurgle cultists? After reading Lords of Silence, is it possible that Mortarion isn’t the only primarch not down with Siege of Terra 2: The Revengencing? More likely, given the ending, this is just yet another layer of Abaddon’s scheming.
More importantly, though, is the delve into Marneus’s backstory. We get to see Marneus as a boy, pre-Space Marine aspirant. What’s most exciting about this is that we’ve seen quite a bit about recruiting, but mostly in flashbacks. This will be an excellent glimpse into the process with one of the most famous WH40k characters. It’s impossible to understate how exciting this is for me. Watching the rise and progression of Marneus Calgar is the balm 2020 needed.
It is not he, Cato Sicarius
In classic Gillen style, there is plenty of dry humor through the first issue. From the back-and-forth between Calgar and his adept, to the information panels, I had a couple good sensible chuckles. It’s my favorite type of WH40k humor where it acknowledges the insanity of the world without making fun of it. I guess what I’m saying is that Gillen’s familiarity and respect for the universe is fully on display.
There is a point of confusion, it seems, amongst some readers. Marneus is shown alongside a childhood friend/frenemy named Kato. This is not the be mistaken with Cato Sicarius, nor Caito Galenus. I have to assume this is Gillen’s own personal nod to fans that not only is this a common name, but Marneus has known a few. Also “Cato” is the grimdark equivalent of “Jayden” or “Tyler.”
What is going to be most interesting about this comic series is how it exposes the “normies” to the world of WH40k. I’ve already seen headlines proclaiming the Astartes’ practice of recruiting children to be “the darkest corner of WH40k.” I’ll let you catch your breath from laughing before I continue. 2020 might become the year that WH40k breaks out of its niche corner of nerd culture. That’s a little nerve-wracking, but also exciting. In terms of first steps, Marvel has come out of the gate swinging, which is what we hoped for. In Kieron Gillen I trust.
* Yes, yes, everyone knows Lord of the Space Vampires.