[9 October 2007]
The role-playing game Warhammer was Great Britain’s answer to Dungeons & Dragons, only they were using pewter miniatures long before D&D did. Independent publisher BOOM! Studios have the Warhammer license, and their latest comics adaptations is Warhammer: Forge of War. Now, I have to admit that I am only somewhat familiar with the Warhammer world. Growing up I remember playing Blood Bowl, a fantasy-based football game created by the same company as Warhammer, Games Workshop. So needless to say, going into this comic, I had no idea what was going on. But, it is your typical fantasy-based story: big battles and lavish wardrobes. This is also your typical licensed comic book: weak writing and average artwork.
Comics based on licensed properties rarely work. Usually they are put together using writers and artists who are not at the top of their game, never mind the fact that their storytelling abilities are limited by the license holders and the numerous restrictions placed on them. Warhammer: Forge of War is really for Warhammer fans. While there is a dictionary in the back allowing readers to become familiar with the characters, gods, and places, it is brief and still does not help as much as I would have liked. The entire comic is a giant battle and is used as an introduction to the various factions in the Warhammer world. Each race and its characters are introduced in a repetitious way that comes across as annoying more than smart. Not much happens in this issue—it is purely set-up for an ongoing series—so it is hard to comment on the story itself.
The artwork comes across as sketchy, and the coloring of the characters and backgrounds clashes at times. It is easy to tell the different characters apart, although this is because the range of races included in this issue is so large: it is not hard to tell the humans from the dwarfs from the orcs. The artwork focuses on the foreground, with little or no background padding, giving the artwork a very two-dimensional and flat look. Battles should look epic, and unfortunately this does not.
This is a comic purely for those who are fans of the Warhammer role-playing game and video games. Anyone else will be truly lost and even bored, as the comic is just one big battle that really goes nowhere and gives no real hint as to what this mini-series is about. The artwork is rough looking with poor coloring and screams that this was basically put out to try and cash in on the license. Do yourself a favor, play the game instead; I am sure it is much more fun.