Warhammer 40,000 is an environment besieged by heretics, mutants, aliens, and corrupt politicians and preachers. There are no good guys in this world; just a procession of compelling bad guys. And just when things seem at their bleakest, an old hero emerges from the shadows – though it remains to be seen if he’ll actually make something better, or just cause more trouble. A second loyalist son of the Emperor has returned and Lion El’Jonson is ready to slay some demonic donkey.
More than 10,000 years ago, the emperor of mankind made 20 sons in a laboratory. These Primarchs are made with the secret sauce of the Warp, an extra-dimensional realm. As such, they are incredibly powerful creatures built to rule legions of transhuman Space Marines. The Gods of Chaos, in an attempt to avenge the Emperor, scattered these sons all over the galaxy. Each Primarch was raised in very different ways, and when they reunited for a Great Crusade across the stars, they had some workplace disputes. Those resentments and disagreements slowly boiled until Horus led a heresy, with half of the Primarchs and their legions rebelling against the Emperor. The empire technically won, and the traitor Primarchs fled.
While treacherous Primarchs have returned to the ruling setting (most transformed into huge and powerful daemons), the loyalist side has been much quieter. Roboute Guilliman was revived in 2017, taken out of stasis during the Gathering Storm campaign books at the end of the 7th edition. Poor Guilliman is the only Loyalist to hang out with all his evil brothers; Magnus tricked him, Mortarion tortured him, and Angron destroyed part of his fleet.
The lion’s return is fascinating because it gives Guilliman a possible ally – and a fun character to bounce off of. Lion El’Jonson is primarch of the Dark Angels, the First Legion. He was born in Caliban’s deathworld, which was so brimming with murderous beasts that every day was a succession of Monster Hunter boss battles. When the emperor found the lion and showed up to add another Primarch to the Great Crusade, the lion took his knighthood with him to become Dark Angels. As such, the legion has a very Knights of the Round Table vibe, dressed in robes over their armor and working with a team of small helpful Jawa-like squires known as the Watchers in the Dark.
The Leo is incredibly capable and skilled, but also aloof and secretive. Unlike Guilliman, he hasn’t been sitting still and as such he’s visibly aged. He is very similar to his father, the Emperor – in fact, the Dark Angels had a heresy of their own, when part of the order split off and renegade. These Dark Angels are known as the Fallen and they will no doubt be an important part of the Lion’s story.
For now, all we know is that the lion will get his own book in the Arks of Omen campaign series, where he’ll battle Angron. Why is he back? Is he cool with Guilliman? What does he think of the current Imperium? We’ll have to wait for answers, but for now, we can appreciate the return of an acclaimed character ready to join a grudge match 10,000 years in the making.