‘The Forever War: Forever Free #1’ - Advance Comic Book Review

If you don’t already know, I’m a huge fan of military sci-fi. From Jack Campbell to John Scalzi to Orson Scott Card to Elizabeth Moon, they all have something to offer. But now, it looks like Joe Haldeman has jumped into comics once again with an ongoing series from Titan Comics. I had the pleasure of getting a signed copy of The Forever War, Vol. 1: Private Mandella at Forbidden Planet in New York in 1990. The new comic series is based on his second series of novels set in the same universe.

The Forever War universe is set in the not-so-distant future, where humans discovered that interstellar travel was possible by traversing collapsars. (These are stars that have collapsed and turned into black holes.) Not long after venturing out into space, they met the Taurans, an advanced alien species, and immediately went to war. (Because that’s what we do to things we don’t understand.) Because of the time paradox from traveling at the speed of light, centuries would pass before human soldiers were able to return home. When they did, they returned to a place they no longer recognized.  The language and culture the soldiers knew was gone and was replaced by something almost as alien as the Taurans themselves.

The story begins after Captain Gay Potter is separated from her long-time lover, William Mandella. Assigned to the UNSC Bolivar, Gay has a new lover and a new mission. William is still the love of her life, but since he was assigned to another star system, it is unlikely they will ever see each other again.  She and her Sergeant and lover, Cat, are ordered to do recon on what appears to be an abandoned Tauran base in the Aleph 10 system. Armed with the latest weapons technology, the stasis field, and the Soldier Boys, they head down to the planet. What they find there is the end and the beginning of another journey.

I love the cool colors Marvano has chosen for this story. It really emphasizes not only the coldness of space, but the lack of warmth in these soldiers’ emotional lives, as well.  The only time we see warm colors is when the lights flash a warning to head for their acceleration tubes and when things are exploding.  The story is an interesting study on the long-term effects of war and the cost of a top-heavy bureaucracy; however, I think it would have benefited from a prologue explaining the dynamics of the world in order to get to the action sooner. There is a lot of telling instead of showing. Not wanting to give away any spoilers, but a big moment feels like a famous scene from Beneath the Planet of the Apes which doesn’t pay off here. I hope that it will in later issues.  

It’s tough to adapt a novel into comic book form without losing the heart of the story, but Mr. Haldeman has done a terrific job of staying true to its emotional core.


Creative Team: Joe Haldeman (writer), Gay Haldeman (writer), Marvano (artist)
Publisher: Titan Comics
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