Review – Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch #1 (Titan Comics)

Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Artwork: Tazio Bettin, Kevin Enhart (colours)
Release Date: 9th May 2018

The Warhammer 40k mythos was always something that appealed to me during my (admittedly limited) foray into the world of tabletop gaming as a youngster. Moreso than other environments, it always felt like there was a rich and expansive backstory behind every conflict, race and faction – a trait which, in theory at least, would seem to lend itself rather well to further exploration in the comic book format.

Deathwatch, a brand new 40k miniseries from Titan Comics, sets out to provide a more intimate affair, eschewing the large-scale mythos to focus on a small squadron of Space Marines carrying out an almost janitorial clean-up mission on a forgotten backwater planet. By the end of the issue however, they find themselves thrust right onto the front lines with the fate of the galaxy at stake.

Writer Aaron Dembski-Bowden does a solid enough job with the writing, introducing us to each of the members of our rag-tag Marine unit as they hunt down a fairly formidable Ur-Ghul. Unfortunately, there’s nothing particularly memorable or unique about any of them, each falling into a fairly well-established trope (grizzled veteran, eager rookie, soft-spoken man of faith, etc. etc.), which leaves it to the visual side of the book to do the bulk of the heavy lifting.

In that respect, Tazio Bettin’s artwork is more than serviceable, and while there’s definitely some dynamism at play during the brief skirmish with the Ur-Ghul, some awkward posing and the inherently ‘clunky’ nature of Space Marine armour prevents this sequence from sizzling the way it should. The character designs are authentic to the Games Workshop source material, as you might expect, and Kevin Enhart gives the book some much-needed visual depth with his colour work.

Sadly, the final page reveal doesn’t quite land the way it should (possibly as a result of me reading it on a tablet instead of the printed page, an approach which diminishes the impact of the double-page spread), although it does open up some interesting possibilities for this series to step out of the sci-fi pack and provide something genuinely original as the story unfolds.

A solid enough start then, with a faithful recreation of the distinctive Games Workshop Warhammer 40k aesthetic. The story hasn’t really done much to stand out yet, but the pieces are in place for what has the potential to be a genuinely enjoyable dose of large-scale sci-fi action.

Rating: 3/5.


ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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