March 23, 2023

Warhammer 40,000 isn’t a particularly subtle setting. This is a galaxy where the Imperium of Man will crash giant church tanks into each other in the middle of a massive battle, and where a man can go from fairly OK to a daemon lord casually exploding out of his face in an instant. Angronthe Red Angel, takes these non-sequiturs to a whole other level.

The man actually has two goals in life: to be crazy and to beat up, and he’s been very, very angry because he’s been at this point for 10,000 years. Now he’s returning to the setting in a big way, along with his World Eaters clan from Chaos Space Marines, and he’s sure to looks like very scary and impressive, but what’s his deal, and why is he suddenly back and more violent than ever?

A uh-oh origin

Angron is one of the 20 sons of the Emperor of Mankind. Long ago, before the year 30,000, the emperor developed 20 perfect boys called primarches to help him lead a great crusade to unite humanity. The extradimensional forces of Chaos, fearing the Emperor, decided to throw a monkey wrench into the works and scattered his boys across the galaxy to a variety of different planets, most of which were quite horrible.

Angron grew up in Nuceria, a high-tech world where gladiator fights took place. Angron couldn’t deal with the planet’s leaders; he was one of the gladiators and they put a powerful piece of technology in his head called the Butcher’s Nails. Angron was an empathetic, caring protector… but the Butcher’s Nails overpowered his better nature and turned him into a killing machine.

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A new Angron model will accompany the next book in the Arks of Omen series.
Image: Games Workshop

In the end, Angron managed to rally his fellow gladiators to revolt against their brutal masters. Then the emperor appeared. The Emperor gave Angron the sales pitch (join me and your brothers, unite the galaxy, etc.) and Angron told him to go kick rocks, with the full intention of dying in his rebellion. The Emperor chased Angron out of there, refusing to waste any of his sons’ excellent genetic material on what he saw as a failed reboot of Spartacus.

The Emperor gave Angron his own chapter of Space Marines, the World Eaters, who are built on Angron’s genesed – initially his own cloned sons, in a sense. Angron never forgave his father, and he repeated the cycle of abuse by installing the Butcher’s Nails in each of the World Eaters. When Horus, another primarch, kicked off the Horus Heresy to overthrow the emperor, Angron immediately boarded that train and rode it all the way to Daemon Station.

Angron explained

The Horus Heresy eventually failed, leaving the Emperor with a broken corpse on the Golden Throne and irreversibly shattering the Imperium. But there was no peace. Angron maintained a strategy of repeatedly ramming his face – or the faces of the World Eaters – into the target. It’s not the most sophisticated strategy, but it earned Angron Khorne’s favor.

Khorne is one of the Four Chaos Gods, and if you’re wondering what his sales pitch is, “BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!” Khorne loves blood, war, murder and carnage. Angron and Khorne are a match made in heaven, and Khorne has elevated Angron into a terrifying Daemon primarch.

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Image: Games Workshop

In the current timeline, set in the 41st millennium, the Imperium of Man enjoys a nice hiatus after a pair of demon-hunting Space Marines managed to banish Angron back to the Chaos realm of the Warp. But with the Arks of Omen event, Angron is back, and he’s more muscular than ever. He has a huge chain ax in one hand. His free hand? He used an iron bar to strike down a daemon of excess and sin, and after long enough of the flogging, the daemon and the iron bar fused into a sword. It’s both metal and hell and very good – in short, classic Warhammer 40K.

In the Arks of Omen event, Abaddon the Despoiler – the lackey of Horus and the Warmaster of every Chaos-corrupted Space Marine chapter – embarks on another crusade across the stars with the Balefleet ships, accompanied by a Chaos demigod named Vashtorr the Arkifane. While Abaddon and Vashtorr team up to overthrow the Emperor (who still sits on that throne 10,000 years later), Angron is just causing trouble. He’s stronger than ever; if you banish him, he will return in eight weeks, eight days and eight hours. (That’s a total of nine weeks, I think, but Chaos creatures like to impose the drama.)

Angron is a compelling character because, despite all the murder and gore, he started out as a scared little kid on an alien world forced to fight for his life. Which, by the way, is the origin story of most Space Marines, affected by chaos or not. When Angron was finally rescued, however, it wasn’t in the form of a loving, noble primarch like Roboute Guilliman. It was in the form of a cruel, abusive father who despised the slaves who were his friends, his family. The Butcher’s Nails still pursue him even when he has transformed into a powerful, ruthless Daemon primarch; he has transcended his physical form, but the psychological effects of the Nails are so strong that they are still embedded in his mind.

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The upcoming World Eaters army codex and the novel Angron: The red angel will probably shed more light on Angron and his guys, but one thing’s for sure, they’re back, they’re angry, and they want to turn your skull into a chair.