A Little Look at Lore: Examining the Deathwing of Space Hulk: Deathwing
The PlayStation systems haven’t had much exposure to the Dark Angels Chapter of the Warhammer 40,000 Space Marines. The PlayStation 4’s first jaunt with the Chapter was with Space Hulk: Deathwing, where three members of the Dark Angels Deathwing sect explored a Space Hulk teeming with genestealers. The PlayStation Store page for the game suggests that the Deathwing is merely a name for name for the Dark Angels’ First Company, that they’re called such because they are the most feared company in the Chapter. However, the name “Deathwing” means far more than that for the Dark Angels. The Deathwing has a secret mission, one that will make them forsake any Emperor-laden missions in order to see theirs through.
But Do They Have a Secret Handshake?
The Deathwing is really a super secret double-probation society within the Dark Angels. The Dark Angels, the proud First Legion of the Emperor, has a secret as dark as their Librarians’ armor. Only the Deathwing knows this secret, and it is one that they will kill to protect, even if it means killing other Dark Angels or Space Marines from other Chapters.
Ten thousand years before the modern-day world of WH40K, the primarch Horus betrayed the Emperor, resulting in a civil war between the Legions that lasted thousands of years. The Dark Angels and their primarch, Lion El’Jonson, were loyal to the Emperor, but they weren’t 100% loyal to one another. The original First Legion Dark Angels were from Terra, like the Emperor. However, El’Jonson grew up on Caliban, and he with the Emperor forced the Terra Dark Angels to go to Caliban and join with the Caliban Dark Angels. The Terran Dark Angels were a bit bitter about their new primarch since they served with the Emperor Himself for centuries.
So during the Horus Heresy, they became even more bitter when El’Jonson took many Caliban Dark Angels with him to battle and left the Terran Dark Angels behind to guard Caliban. I’m greatly summarizing and simplifying what happened, but just know that the Dark Angels left on Caliban began to fight against one another—Terran vs. Caliban Dark Angels. When El’Jonson returned to see his planet ruined and the factions fighting, he attempted to stop the rebellion. However, the situation was too tempting for the forces of Chaos. The Chaos Gods unleashed a Warp Storm on the planet, destroying most of it. It’s possible El’Jonson died in the storm, but it’s just as possible that he is somewhere else since no body was found. Many of the Terran Dark Angels, however, were sucked into the warp and dropped thousands of years in the future—into the world of WH40K.
The Dark Angels call them the Fallen Angels, and the Deathwing’s secret mission is to capture and execute any Fallen Angels they find. If word reaches them about a possible Fallen Angel, they pretty much drop whatever they’re doing to hunt him down. They can’t let the other Chapters know about the Fallen Angels, because if they do, their loyalty will be so questionable that the Chapter will be stripped and discarded. Some Inquisitors have musings about the Dark Angels’ secret, but no one has ever found proof against them.
Who Are the Dark Angels Really Loyal to?
This has always been the million dollar question for the Dark Angels Chapter. They claim to be loyal to the Emperor, and yet, they’re more loyal to proving they are loyal. The Dark Angels who are in the dark (heh) about their sordid history do put the Imperium of Man first. But as soon as the upper echelons grant them Deathwing privileges, then they too become Dark Angels first, Imperium second.
To be fair, new Deathwing Dark Angels don’t have much of a choice. If they don’t immediately swear loyalty to the Deathwing and their precious secrets, they won’t live long enough to finish shaking their head “no.” Then again, those who dare to refuse to keep it a secret are probably the most loyal Dark Angels of the bunch.
It’s pretty crazy that we even have a video game about the Dark Angels where they aren’t hunting down the Fallen. If you listen to their banter among themselves in Space Hulk: Deathwing, you will catch glimpses of their insidious past. But even if you don’t, you can die happy knowing you know the rest of the (abridged) story.