Warhammer 40,000 is a setting besieged by heretics, mutants, aliens, and corrupt politicians and preachers. There are no good guys in this world; just a cavalcade of compelling bad guys. And just when things seem their bleakest, an ancient hero emerges from the shadows — although it remains to be seen whether he will actually make anything better, or just cause more problems. A second loyalist son of the Emperor has returned, and Lion El’Jonson is primed to beat some demon ass.
Over 10,000 years ago, the Emperor of Mankind crafted 20 sons in a laboratory. These Primarchs were created with the secret sauce of the Warp, an extradimensional realm. As such, they’re incredibly powerful beings built to rule legions of transhuman Space Marines. The Gods of Chaos, in an attempt to spite the Emperor, scattered these sons all over the galaxy. Each Primarch was raised in wildly disparate ways, and when they were reunited for a Great Crusade across the stars, they had some workplace disputes. Those grudges and disagreements slow-boiled until Horus led a heresy, where half the Primarchs and their legions rebelled against the Emperor. The Imperium technically won, and the traitor Primarchs fled.
While traitor Primarchs have returned to the setting in force (most of them transformed into massive and powerful daemons) the loyalist side has been much quieter. Roboute Guilliman was revived in 2017, brought out of stasis during the Gathering Storm campaign books at the end of 7th edition. Poor Guilliman’s been the sole loyalist dealing with all of his evil brothers; Magnus tricked him, Mortarion tortured him, and Angron smashed and corrupted one part of his fleet.
The return of the Lion 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 on the death world of Caliban, which was so jam-packed with murderous beasts that every day was a sequence of Monster Hunter boss fights. When the Emperor found the Lion and showed up to add another Primarch to the Great Crusade, the Lion brought his order of knights with him to become Dark Angels. As such, the legion has a very Knights of the Round Table vibe, wearing robes over their armor and working with a squad of little helpful Jawa-style squires known as the Watchers in the Dark.
The Lion is incredibly capable and competent, but also distant and secretive. Unlike Guilliman, he hasn’t been in stasis, and as such, he’s visibly aged. He’s 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 went renegade. These Dark Angels are known as the Fallen, and they’ll doubtlessly be a major part of the Lion’s story.
For now, all we know is that the Lion is getting his own book in the Arks of Omen campaign series, in which he’ll be fighting Angron. Why is he back? Is he cool with Guilliman? How does he feel about the current Imperium? We’ll have to wait for answers, but for the moment, we can just appreciate the return of a much-hyped character primed to join in on a grudge match 10,000 years in the making.