The Warhammer 40k universe is an incredibly expansive and interesting setting that is, unfortunately, in thrall to its fanbase. There are a lot of cool elements to the setting that, outside of their respective codices, never really see the light of day because of the setting devotion to the Space Marines. I mean, I know they’re the most popular army in the setting, but maybe that’s because they get all the screentime?
Regardless, the non-game related stuff (usually novels) tends to be knee deep in Space Marines. That doesn’t mean they can’t be compelling, just that they tend to be…samey. So when something comes along about another faction, I tend to head right for it. Especially when its about the terminally underrepresented faction, the Adepta Sororitas.
Daemonifuge concerns a Seraphim Superior of the Order of Our Martyred Lady named Ephrael Stern. When the story starts she has been imprisoned by her own Order for fear she’s corrupted after being the lone survivor of a force of 12,000 Battle Sisters sent to battle a Daemonic incursion. Around the time an Inquisitor arrives to check her out, it’s discovered she can sense and easy defeat Daemons.
This turns out to be pretty useful, because when investigating the disappearance of the Sisters, they find they’re being pursued relentlessly by servants of Chaos. During the investigation, Ephrael discovers that she has strange powers, which begin to set her apart from other Imperial servants, who believe that they’re granted by Chaos.
Before I go on, I have to make clear that I love Warhammer (which everyone reading this should know, since I’ve written about it both for this site and for other sites) but while I’d love to see more people get into Warhammer, Daemonifuge is not particularly interested in being a welcome mat. The plot takes Stern on a walking tour of a ton of different Warhammer factions (from the Imperial Guard and Grey Knights, all the way down to Harlequins and Dark Eldar), but it never feels like explaining what the setting is, or who most of these people are or what any of this stuff is. What I’m saying is, if you’re interested in getting into Warhammer, you might want to find a different introduction.
Even once you’re into Warhammer, it might take a little time to readjust, just because it’s not original stories, merely a reprinting of some comics from the late 90s and early 2000s, and the game looks…well kind of different. Several sections revolve around the Dark Eldar and Harlequins, both of whom have undergone some substantial redesigns since the comic was published.
But once you know what 40k is about and adjust yourself to the old look of some the stuff, it’s actually a pretty solid read. You have to deal with how silly and over the top everything is (Warhammer is like that, you learn to roll with it), but taken on its terms, its a fun read, which is all you can ask from Warhammer fiction.
The story is divided into three parts, with the best ones easily being the second and third parts, as the book takes a while to get going, and the art gets a lot better. There’s also a lot of character and engagement brought in from the slow walking tour of the 40k universe, giving us an eye level view on some stuff that that 40k fans don’t usually get to see, like Commoragh or the street level view of a Shrine World.
At its best, the comic manages to cultivate an air of mystery around Ephrael’s destiny, which is actually where we arrive at our first issue: The ending is kind of a major letdown. I have to assume they’d eventually planned on continuing it, but as of right now there’s no part 4 and the ending just sort of wanders out into nothing. Which is a shame, because by the end I was interested enough to want to know how it ends.
There are some other good points (cool action and a solid sense of atmosphere) and bad points (cheesy writing, although that’s par for the course with Warhammer, and some hard to follow artwork) but there’s just not a lot of meat on these bones to talk about. If you like Warhammer in general and Sisters of Battle in particular, then this comic will probably appeal to you. And if you do like Sisters of Battle, then you’re probably so used to ridiculous price tags, that the 40 dollars for this graphic novel won’t phase you. So I guess that’s a recommendation. You could do a lot worse as far as Warhammer fiction goes.
Elessar is a 26 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that a book about Sisters of Battle was released 3 months after his article about there being no women in Warhammer.
– Sisters of Battle are in it and they’re awesome
– art in parts 2 and 3 is pretty awesome
– great atmosphere and mystery
– art can be confusing in the first part
– not new reader friendly
– cheesy dialogue
– seriously, it’s 40 goddamn dollars