After the shocking reveal of the last issue, it’s hard for Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #3 to top it. So, it doesn’t even try. Instead, the issue focuses on the battle ahead in its two stories. It also continues to deliver insight into the champion and leader of the Ultramarines, Marneus Calgar.
Writer Kieron Gillen continues the dual narrative focusing on the kid that “Marneus Calgar” was and the man Marneus Calgar is. It’s an interesting use of the two time periods as Gillen shows the growth of the character in subtle ways. In the past, we have a green individual who is full of heart but not wise on tactics. In the present, Calgar is a brilliant tactician but also somewhat cold.
The dual stories provide an interesting balance to the issue. We get to see growth in the character from youth to adult. It also dials things back in some ways from the previous one. It’d be difficult to top that issue’s reveal so instead Gillen doesn’t even try. Instead he focuses on Tacitan and where he came from to where he is now using the reveal to further the story. That allows a shift in the narrative in that Calgar’s estate goes from a location to defend due to nostalgia and it being “home” to it being another tactical tool to use. The switch goes from defending one’s home to a cold, calculated move. It’s a great shift that forces you to rethink the first issue and the estate’s introduction.
Gillen does shift things in some ways using the visuals. Games Workshop is known for its violent imagery and while the series has danced around it, Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #3 ups the action. New shocking reveals? That’s been done. Now it’s time for the ultra violence. Bodies explode in red explosions as Calgar and his Ultramarines light up the enemies. Bodies drop in the past as Tacitan uses his wits to escape the worshippers of Khorne. Blood flies in crimson glee.
Artist Jacen Burrows handles the violent dance with colors from Java Tartaglia and lettering by Clayton Cowles. Burrows and Tartaglia delivers over the top imagery as bodies explode from bolter fire. The issue almost makes up for the lack of violence in the previous two. It’s over the top in a humorous way delivering more of the violent imagery Games Workshop and Warhammer 40,000 are known for.
What the artistic team and Gillen really pull off is the awe of the Space Marines. The introduction of the Ultramarines to Tacitan is done so in reverence and almost angelic reveal. The scene is handled in a surprising way for multiple reasons. We get to see the abilities of just one Ultramarine but for those that are long time 40K fans, we question actions too. Tacitan has been “exposed” to the corrupting powers of Chaos and yet is saved by the Ultramarine instead of being purged as a possible heretic. There’s more to this story and hopefully Gillen addresses what feels like an intentional decision.
Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #3 doesn’t bring the surprises like the previous issue but it ups the action. We get crimson gore flying across panels in a dance of explosions. We get to see Calgar, in both ages, do what he does best, kick Chaos’ ass. The series has been a fun one for me as a long-time fan for Warhammer 40,000 and with each issue the creative team has upped the fun bit by bit.
Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Jacen Burrows
Color: Java Tartaglia Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Purchase: comiXology – Kindle – Zeus Comics