Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I have a sort of grim fascination with Warhammer 40k. Not the actual game itself, but rather the universe it consists of. In truth, I think the game is fun too. It kills me when I walk through comic stores and see those three to four guys who are always playing on those table in the back? Like- in every store? Even on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon? And the thing is, they have these ridiculously gorgeous armies that are immaculately painted. Models from game workshop are pretty pricey last time I checked. Given that the relative age of “those guys” playing the game appears (at a glance) to be between age sixteen and twenty-three, my first thought is- dude, do you have a job? How do you afford this? Not just the money, but the time, to paint this stuff? I mean, really? That being said, it’s a really fun, cool model war game. The 40k universe? It disturbs me. It’s kind of like watching a train wreck though- I can’t look away. That is not to say that the universe is a train wreck in that is poorly written or composed- in fact, quite the opposite. 40K is kind of an amalgam of every science fiction concept you’ve ever dreamed up, and quite a few epic fantasy ones as well. There are aliens (a la Sigourney Weaver movies), guys in power armor and even orcs (only with lasers and bombs and stuff). So what makes 40k stick out? It’s sort of like the Dark Ages…in space. Not believing in the religion the human race has embraced is a national (universal?) crime, and inquisitors go around burning heretics at the stake. Space travel is a lot like setting out to sail on an uncharted ocean- entire ships and crews get lost and are never heard from again. Above all? Death, and war, is omnipresent. Like a way of life. Like I said- disturbing. In fact, I might say that 40K scares the beejesus out of me. STILL, sometimes I just have to indulge my appetite and take a look. If I was at a point in my life where I read novels for pleasure (I miss those days, badly) I’d probably be picking up anything on that huge rack of novels that take up an entire shelf at Borders or Barnes & Noble these days. But these days I have to fall back on the comics- which I have to say, have shown a considerable increased presence in stores. Usually, the kind of stories told in a 40K comic involve ridiculously brutal war armor, big guns, and apocalyptic-like storylines. The thing with religion in 40k? All that overbearing, painful, Catholic guilt about sins and punishment? It’s all true, to the letter. That is, if you really don’t try to live a penitent and calm life, if you let yourself give in to your baser instincts, than your soul really will get corrupted by the forces of Chaos- you’ll sprout a second head, speak in tongues, all that fun stuff. Quality of life isn’t very pretty in this vision of the future, is it? I can only take a few of these titles at a time. It isn’t for the faint of heart. Still, 40K, and miniature wargames in general, are increasingly “married” to comic book stores. The end result is likely that you’ll see more and more of these in the future. Take a look if you can take it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.