I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
This was Dawn of War 0-3, and the Cannon Hawke Dawn of War #1 that didn't come with the Bundle. I ended up spending the two dollars on the Cannon Hawke tie-in. I might not have for a character I cared less about, but I'm finding I really enjoy Cannon: he's a bit stoic, and unaware of how important he is. Even when told, he seems to scoff at that. He's simply living is life by his own conscience, and unwilling to bend that for anyone else. It's actually quite inspiring. (His conscience, by the way, tells him to help everyone he can, so it's not a bad way to live!)
This was reference in the two omnibuses, and I kept thinking 'should I read this now or later?' I didn't want to interrupt the flow of the two larger Fathom collections, so I ended up reading those first and then diving straight into this. Most of the large reveals, that were meant to be surprises, weren't quite as shocking as they could have been. Some of the first revelations in the first omnibus talk about the twists, I believe, and so I figured putting some distance between that and reading about the reveals couldn't hurt.
The problem is I have a really good memory and spoilers like that stick. I feel like this would have been more of a four and a half star to five star read if I hadn't read what had happened, but I did. Nothing against the writing, and to be honest, it was nice to see the specifics of how people got to where they were, even if I knew the general plot and twists. The artwork was excellent again, so no complaints there. There was a particularly memorable scene with Maylander, that not only helped me see just how much he would sacrifice to gain insight into his enemies, but made me understand a lot of the story arcs better through that insight. (Maylander is a human general who believes that humanity needs to stay on top of the Blue, if not outright destroy them, and is wiling to get his hands incredibly dirty to accomplish his goals.)
I also understand Kiani a little more, and I've been struggling with her. I didn't quite understand her character arc in the second omnibus, and I think seeing how attached she was to Casque and how much the events in this volume hurt, and even damaged, her helped me be a little more at peace with how her storyline ended. I've been, quite frankly, putting off her omnibus because I really didn't like her at the end, and this makes me want to know more about her.
It was nice to fill in the gaps and I thought developed the characters a little better for me. I would have preferred more of this than the story, but again, I'm probably biased by knowing what would happen.
I also enjoyed the Cannon Hawke special: it was from his point of view, and went over a couple scenes in the main series, but they weren't exact copies. It also gave me a little bit more of a general understanding of these events, seeing how he could have gone after Kiani - and why he choose not to. (He had a good reason, in that he had injured soldiers, that he needed to get to safety before they became either more injured or dead. Still it put him in a really bad place, and he justified it as that Kiani knew what she was doing. She was an adult and fully capable of taking responsibility for those choices, whereas the injured soldiers were unable to, say, get themselves to safety. Again, Aspen Comics comes through: instead of treating women as if they can't make responsible choices, they allow them to do so and to live with those consequences. Sadly, Kiani's choices may have led to her downfall later on - but it was no one's responsibility to make sure she didn't do something terrible to herself, not if it came at the cost of the lives of many others. It's tragic, but she was allowed to live her life on her own terms without anyone else even claiming responsibility for how her life turned out, and I applaud Aspen for the bold choices they make with the women in their comics.)
This one most likely wasn't a perfect read for me because of the spoilers in the omnibuses, but it didn't stop me from enjoying this greatly. Happy to have more Aspen to read in the future!