The Forever War #2 continues the comic book adaptation of the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning book by Joe Haldeman. During the course of the first chapter, Haldeman explores the depths of space, along with the training associated with fighting an alien species that has already attacked colonists. The depth of physical and emotional endurance has been tested and death has come at the expense of learning under extreme conditions.
The second chapter begins with the platoon reaching its destination, as artist Marvano draws a somewhat barren land with grayish-blue skies cascading against dry, brown grass. This dreary environment seems to foretell the events ahead, as anxiousness builds upon the characters and reader. Shuttles land to disembark their gear, and soon lift off again racing back to space, so the special task force can begin their mission. “They are under orders to engage the enemy – the Taurans – whom none of them have ever seen before.” Knowing that this crew has survived their training, learning to deal with the deaths of their comrades, they must come to grips with being a soldier, despite every indication that they never wanted any of this. The main character, Mandella, describes the desolation quite simply, “I was not a soldier…I would never be one.”
An overwhelming sense of tension propels you through this chapter of The Forever War. Members of the squadron navigate their surroundings and the few unique things that remind them they are on a different world. The presence of strange animals brings to question the essence, the fear of not knowing. Taurans are unidentified. They’ve yet to be seen. Yet, orders are orders – “Shoot to kill!” There isn’t any evidence that these “monsters” are what they’re looking for. They do not know anything about their enemy of the planet they’ve landed on, but the possibility of learning the truth might prove too costly. They must kill and then assess. It’s the only way to make sure they’re safe. Isn’t it?
Haldeman perfectly captures viciousness within this science fiction tale. Those in command ultimately have control and make sure orders are carried out, with lifeless debris as a prevailing result throughout the first two comic books. Along with the edginess felt from the crew as they search this strange planet, Marvano’s illustrations provide a sense of isolation, particularly during the night watch. The devastating imagery, and overall approach, to first contact with any new life form is terrifying. It magnifies the dangers looming ahead, and the stage is set brilliantly for the next chapter.