When it comes to reviewing Kieron Gillen’s fantastic Marneus Calgar comic series, I am batting a thousand. Somehow I completely missed that Marneus Calgar issue #5 released several weeks ago, hence my late review. Upon going into this issue I admit I was skeptical of where it was leading. OK, his BFFs from his aspirant training have returned and they look a little different. But to what end? Surely this entire arc can’t be about revenge? Marneus Calgar ain’t got time for some petty-ass revenge story.
Turns out, no, this is not a measly revenge tale.
That one time a Lord of Skulls turned up
If you listen to the podcast, I’ve made no effort to hide my love of Khorne’s aesthetic. The World Eaters are my homeboys, and I do not apologize. As such, I’ve waited a long time to see a Lord of Skulls show up in the fluff. LOOK AT THAT THING. The whole design is awesome, fun, and as over the top as a Guns N’ Roses video. The problem is that the daemon engine is so over the top, it’s hard to really utilize them in the fluff. Even this guy doesn’t make a very long cameo, but his mere presence makes me so happy. Again, look at that thing. Outstanding.
Additionally, we’re told that no one has ever bested a Lord of Skulls in single combat, which we know immediately is Chekhov’s daemon engine. And yet it feels wholly satisfying that of all the recorded people to go mano y mano with one, Marneus would be the dude to defeat it. This is the type of fan service I want to hook directly to my veins. For additional fan service this issue, see also the reference of the Word Bearer’s ship being a relic of the invasion. Horus Heresy fans rejoice!
Yes, Heckle and Jeckle strike me as the type of petty jerks who would travel across the universe to torment poor Marneus Calgar (nee Tacitan) but how does one mobilize a force to support this? This actually bothered me through most of the comic. Sure the worshippers of Khorne are always up for some bloodshed and slaughter, but “we wanna kill Calgar” isn’t a great motivation. Or, rather, it’s not a great sole motivation.
As the end of the issue Calgar remembers there was an altar present last time he was there. When the altar was revealed, I had found it odd that such a thing was just casually laying around in the Ultramar realm. I also found it odd that it hadn’t been reclaimed or destroyed when Calgar was rescued. But it appears whatever warp anomaly struck also reclaimed the altar. Man, that has to suck. You came all this way for an altar aaaaaaand nope.
I continue to love how unflappable Marneus Calgar is in the face of, well, everything. Dudes who murdered your best friend show up? Sure. You get to rip the skull off one of them? Another day at the office. Stabbed through the heart? Better talk to the apothecary after this. The man is exactly what I expect out of a space marine chapter master.
I know some folks online have griped that it seems a little, well, comic booky and that is a fair criticism to level. But as a long-time comic fan, I think Gillen is doing a phenomenal job of showing how flexible the world really is. Marneus Calgar is just as at home in an introductory comic book as he is being dressed down by Roboute Guilliman in Dark Imperium. It is definitely a different feel, but I’m good with it. So long as Marvel maintains quality writers who have an understanding of WH40k, I’m on board.