The Forever War by Joe Haldeman – Graphic Novel Adaptation – #BookReview

Title: The Forever War | Author: Joe Haldeman | Illustrator: Marvano | Pub. Date: 2017-11-7 | Pages: 144 | ISBN13: 9781785860898 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: I received a copy from the publisher free for review consideration


The Forever War

The legendary novel of extraterrestrial war in an uncaring universe comes to comics, in a stunningly realized vision of Joe Haldeman’s Vietnam War parable!

The visionary Hugo and Nebula Award-winning SF tale by Joe Haldeman is beautifully realized in full color by the legendary artist Marvano. An epic SF war story spanning relativistic space and time, The Forever War explores one soldier’s experience as he is caught up in the brutal machinery of a war against an unknown and unknowable alien foe that reaches across the stars.

Book cover for The Forever War

The Forever War Review

I went in to reading this graphic novel adaptation of The Forever War knowing surprisingly little about the story. I haven’t yet read the original novels. I have read a work inspired by it (Old Man’s War) and loved it, though. Keep that in mind when reading my review, as fans of the original novel may have an entirely different opinion of it than I do.

This adaptation covers all three books of The Forever War. The story has been distilled down to its essence, and delivered to the reader in 144 richly illustrated pages. The story is a moving one. It’s not focused on the war itself as much as the effects that the battles – and the time hopping – have on the main character. William Mandella is a character that is easy to feel for. He has no real desire to be a soldier. He just wants to do his time and then move on with his life. But he’s young, hearty, and trained, and Those in Power aren’t going to let him slip out of their grasp. I felt sorry for him. I can’t even begin to imagine how disorienting it would be to have the world shift dramatically around him every time he returned to Earth.

Joe Haldeman has an interesting vision of the future in The Forever War. Homosexuality is something that the author uses to show how drastically society has changed. It’s interesting because while I didn’t necessarily view the way he uses homosexuality as offensive, something about it still made me uncomfortable. It never felt condemning, per say, as much as it it felt like the subject was an unsavory one. Like when people say that they’re okay with homosexuality, but you can tell by the expression on their face and the little remarks they make about people’s sexuality that they’re not. It moves from “Okay, yeah, this makes sense” to shades of “the gay agenda”. For it’s time, its understandable, I suppose, but still not a comfortable piece to read.

The Forever War is well-paced, and the graphic novel does a great job of keeping the tension going. Normally I can’t do a straight read through on over a  hundred pages of a graphic novel. I get frustrated, get headaches, or just get bored. That wasn’t the case with this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of the art, if I’m honest. It got the point across, but the panels weren’t exactly things of beauty that made me want to study each one individually. However, each panel got it’s point across, and I was so absorbed in the story that my eyes practically ran from one panel to the next. (One impression that stayed with me was that I did think that the helmets the humans used looked a bit like BB-8’s head. I had a few moments of giggling before I adjusted.) One final note on the art – it wasn’t that the art was bad, objectively. It was just not my style. I prefer bright colors and clean lines. 

The alternate covers at the end of the collection were stunning. 

This version of The Forever War gave me an itch that I think will only be scratched by reading the full novel series. The story Joe Haldeman tells is intriguing. A man outside of time, going from battle to travel inside time dilation to battle. The world changes around him, and all he can do is keep fighting the forever war. I can see why this is a well-loved classic. The story is the type that stays with you in ways few ever do. 

Buy Link: Amazon

Find a few pages below from the publication, courtesy of Titan Comics.