Warhammer 40,000 is not a particularly subtle setting. This is a galaxy where the Imperium of Man will crash giant church-tanks together in the middle of a massed melee, and where a guy can go from pretty OK to having a daemon lord casually explode out of his face in a heartbeat. Angron, the Red Angel, takes these non sequiturs to a whole other level.
The guy basically has two goals in life: be mad and beat ass, and he’s been very, very mad for going on 10,000 years at this point. Now he’s returning to the setting in a big way, along with his World Eaters clan of Chaos Space Marines, and he certainly looks very scary and impressive, but what’s his deal, and why is he suddenly back and more violent than ever?
An uh-oh origin
Angron is one of the 20 sons of the Emperor of Mankind. Way back before the year 30,000, the Emperor engineered 20 perfect boys called primarchs to help him lead a great crusade to unite humanity. The extradimensional forces of Chaos, fearing the Emperor, decided to throw a monkey wrench in the works and scattered his boys across the galaxy to a variety of different planets, most of which were pretty terrible.
Angron grew up on Nuceria, a high-tech world that enjoyed gladiatorial combat. Angron didn’t get to roll with the leaders of the planet; 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 overrode his better nature and turned him into a murder machine.
Eventually, Angron was able to rally his fellow gladiators to rise up against their cruel masters. Then the Emperor showed up. The Emperor gave Angron the sales pitch (join me and your brothers, unite the galaxy, etc.) and Angron told him to go kick rocks, fully intending to die in his rebellion. The Emperor yeeted Angron out of there, refusing to waste one 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 off Angron’s geneseed — initially his own cloned sons, in a sense. Angron never forgave his dad, and he went on to repeat the cycle of abuse by installing the Butcher’s Nails into each one of the World Eaters. When Horus, another primarch, kicked off the Horus Heresy to overthrow the Emperor, Angron got right on that train and rode it all the way to Daemon Station.
The Horus Heresy ultimately failed, leaving the Emperor a broken corpse on the Golden Throne and the Imperium irreversibly shattered. But there was no peace. Angron maintained a strategy of ramming his face — or the World Eaters’ faces — into the target repeatedly. It’s not the most sophisticated strategy, but it earned Angron the favor of Khorne.
Khorne is one of the four Chaos gods, and if you’re wondering what his sales pitch is, it’s: “BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!” Khorne loves blood, war, murder, and slaughter. Angron and Khorne are a match made in heaven, and Khorne uplifted Angron to be a terrifying Daemon primarch.
In the current timeline, which takes place in the 41st millennium, the Imperium of Man is enjoying a nice respite after a bunch of daemon-hunting Space Marines managed to banish Angron back to the Chaos realm of the Warp. But with the Arks of Omen event, Angron’s back, and he’s beefier than ever. He has a massive chain-ax in one hand. His off hand? He used an iron bar to beat a daemon of excess and sin down, and after a long enough thrashing, the daemon and the iron bar merged into a sword. It’s both metal as hell and very good — in short, classic Warhammer 40K.
In the Arks of Omen event, Abaddon the Despoiler — Horus’ lackey and the Warmaster of every Chaos-corrupted Space Marine chapter — is starting yet another crusade across the stars with the Balefleet ships, accompanied by a Chaos demigod called Vashtorr the Arkifane. While Abaddon and Vashtorr are working together to overthrow the Emperor (who’s still on that throne 10,000 years later), Angron’s just kind of causing trouble. He’s stronger than ever; if you banish him, he’ll return in eight weeks, eight days, and eight hours. (That’s nine weeks total, I guess, but Chaos beings love to lay on the drama.)
Angron is a compelling character because, despite all of the murder and gore, he started as a scared little kid on an alien world forced to fight for his life. Which, incidentally, is the origin story of most Space Marines, Chaos-tainted or otherwise. When salvation finally came for Angron, 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 scorned the slaves who were his friends, his family. The Butcher’s Nails still haunt him even when he’s been reshaped into a powerful, brutal Daemon primarch; he’s transcended his physical form, but the psychological effects of the Nails are so strong they’re still embedded in his mind.
The upcoming World Eaters army codex and the novel Angron: The Red Angel will likely shed more light on Angron and his boys, but one thing’s for certain: They’re back, they’re mad, and they want to turn your skull into a chair.