Let it be know that March 1, 2023 was the greatest day of 2023 for me. The long-touted, and teased Iron Within finally released on Warhammer TV. Was it worth the wait? Yes, yes it was. Is it for everyone? Well…
Be Careful What You Wish For
The show takes place on an unnamed Imperial world under siege by the Drukhari. As our brave Astra Millitarum force faces the sadistic whims of the raiders, they fall ever backward in defense. Once in the palace, things go from bad to worse as the planetary governor reveals he fell for the oldest trick in the book: trust the Drukhari to get what you want. Pure, bloody, hubris.
When the Astropath suggests calling in an ancient favor from the Adeptus Astartes, it is initially met with skepticism, which turns to desperation. Sure, call in fantastical heroes of old. That’ll work. Of course it does work, and our heroes get more than they bargained for. It takes several moments for our heroes to suss out what is going on, but once Thera does, her fear is palpable.
The Iron Warriors have come to retake their planet from the Drukhari because who doesn’t want to kill Drukhari? But what does that mean for the defenders? Borax and Thera come face to face with the ancient Terminator leading this war band, and decisions must be made. If you’re an Iron Warriors fan, the end will come as little surprise. The Iron Warriors value strength and the titular Iron Within above all else.
Forgotten Past, Remembered Oaths
Iron Within tapped into a lot of ideas and concepts that I love within the WH40k universe. First, is the idea that the universe is so vast, the Adeptus Astartes are occasionally mistaken as myth. When the Astropath suggests calling upon the ancient creed, the people react as if he suggested calling upon Hercules himself. A Greek demi-god, come to save us? Sure, Jan. They’ve not just forgotten the traitors vs. loyalists, they’ve forgotten the Astartes exist.
Second, the ever-present reminder that the past has been forgotten, intentionally, by the Imperium. What did the creed look like, in the catacombs, I wonder? Did it say “Call upon the Iron Warriors?” “Call upon the IV legion?” For the citizens of the Imperium, are there so many successor chapters they can’t be kept straight?
Third, and finally, is the idea that the traitor legions do remember the past. A message arrives from a planet they’ve not stepped foot on in probably 10,000 years, and they come. Perhaps out of morbid curiosity, perhaps because they enjoy a good fight with the Drukhari, or perhaps because they’re savvy enough to recognize an opportunity. But they came. When the Terminator reveals this was the planet of his birth, there’s a poetic touch there that’s hard to dislike.
Beautiful in its Brutality
The animation’s best selling point is the way in which it demonstrates the various degrees of brutality in the WH40k universe. The Drukhari are elegant, fluid creatures who kill for fun. The way in which they transition from liquid malice, jumping fortifications and walls with ease, to gleefully stabbing a human is impressive. In one scene a Drukhari raider repeatedly stabs an Astra Millitarum victim well past the point of death. Even helmeted, the rapture is evident.
Juxtaposing this is the Iron Warriors who stomp, smash, and crush their way through Drukhari and Imperial soldier alike. Both are enemies to the brutally efficient IV legion. It’s one thing to read descriptions of how Astartes tear through through “lesser creatures” like paper, it’s another to watch it. The shine of their armor, the efficiency of their kills, it’s a most impressive display.
The lone complaint I have about the animation is that the human lip-to-speech didn’t always match. Early on, when the Borax, Thera, and the governor are speaking, there were moments mouths were closed, but words were heard. It’s a very, very niggling complaint, but worth noting in an otherwise flawless execution. (Heh, get it??)
Bottom Line for Warhammer TV’s Iron Within
Iron Within is fantastic short-story telling on Warhammer TV. Filled with sinister, strong characters including a trooper who knows her worth, a Drukhari lord full of condescending malice, and a Terminator that embodies the IV Legion, it’s a great way to spend 30 minutes of your evening. The story is also the perfect length: it tells a tight tale that doesn’t overstay its welcome. What happens to Thera, as she stares into the ruin of her planet? I think we can all infer.