12 September 2010

The FWS Review of The Forever War Graphic Novel

In 1988, Belgian artist Marvano committed himself to a three-part graphic novel serial  based on the the Forever War by Joe Haldemen. Original, the graphic novels were published in Europe, and came to the states via NBM publishing in the early 1990's. Joe Haldemen was directly involved in the process of turning his work into a visual medium, and was pleased with the outcome. The Forever War Graphic Novel was later broken up and published in B&W  for Dark Horse Comics' Cheval Noir series. Today, these graphic novels have become rare, only Volume One seems to somewhat available, while Volume Two and Three are very hard to find.  I paid $5.60 for  Volume One in Very Fine condition from Lone Star Comics in Arlington, Texas (they have a few more if you are interested). That is less than the original 1990 cover price!Sometimes, things go your way...Volume One covers the first 80 pages from my 2003 Eos tradepaper edition of the The Forever War.

The Good

The Forever War Graphic Novel Volume One is one of those rare gems of military sci-fi, due to the amount love and attention that was put into the work. Being a fan of the book, and the regard that I hold it  in, I can honestly say that this is an outstanding graphic novel, and is more or less faithful to the original text.
In the first few pages, I was surprised to find a section written by Mr. Hadlemen on his experiences in Vietnam in 1968 (complete with pictures), covering the link between the Vietnam war and the genesis of the Forever War. Following this, Marvano gave  why he had the desire this project. I took away the feeling that Marvano was committed to give the best Military Sci-Fi book the best comic adaption possible.
And he did.
Most of the narration in the graphic novel, is directly lifted from the text of the book, give the reader the best of both worlds.
I actually re-read the novel after finishing the graphic novel, and I found the graphic novel modernized some element of the book, including the figthing suit to look more like a militarized NASA space suit, the laser finger from the novel is replaced with a more rifle-like weapon, and the vehicle that takes them from ship-to-shore is based on the American Space Shuttle, worked quite well.
Some of the art is breathtaking, and I wanted to hang it from my walls.
After witnessing the power of Marvano's art, it will be hard for me to not see this art when I read the novel. That's how organic it is with the text.
If a mini-series or movie was more or less based off of this version of the book, then Avatar is going to get it's blue ass kicked.

The Bad

For a work to be translated into a visual medium, you have to make cuts. Namely the assigned sexually partners, military-approved drug use, and the genesis behind the UN task force drafting only 150+ IQ rated people is not stated. Much of the detail on the fighting suit is omitted. The most critical plot device cut from the graphic novel is the interaction between Marygay and William, whose relationship is vital in last portion of the book. Nearly nothing is exchanged between these characters in Volume One, where in the book, they are often each other's preferred bed partners.

The Ugly
The only ugly portion is the rarity of this series. I was about to locate Volume Three for a very good price, however I have yet to locate Volume Two  for sale for less than my car payment.

Should you buy this?
YES!!! If you are a fan of the book, then is the cherry on top. Buy it while it is still cheap before Mr. Scott makes the movie. This is what Mr. Scott should use for the basis for this upcoming 3-D epic film verison of the Forever War. This combines the best elements of the novel, while making changes for the audience and times.

If you own Volume Two in good condition, please email me with a price...we can do some business.


  1. ah.
    those gems of paper...

    when will i own one?

  2. Thank you for the advise on Volume 1, I think I got the last copy from Lone Star Comics for $5.60!

  3. Just found out that there was a three issue sequel series as well published in France in 2002 called "Libre a jamais" translate to "Forever Free". It is based on both the short story "A Separate War" which tells Marygay Potter's story when she and Mandella were separated during the Forever War. The last two volumes are based on the the third novel of the series, "Forever Free" which shares the same name and ends the story. I have read both novels but would love to see Marvano's art for this last novel, again it seems he collaborated with Joe Haldeman and they released a great series, unfortunately it is only available in France. I have relatives there, I may ask them for a favor.

  4. I read about the French Forever Free book in passing, but this hard intel! Thanks for the information! I have read "A Seperate War", and find to be another fine element of the Forever War world...Volume Two of the Marvano Forever War Graphic Novels is still the one I simply cannot find

  5. I have all three volumes in paperback with an extra volume one that I got from Lone Star Comics, volume two is available on ebay occasionally. I picked up an entire set of all three for $50 from an ebay seller! Mostly the hardback is available for volume two from amazon, used starting at $79.00 on up to $150-$379.99, the $79.00 one hasn't moved as of yet. In regards to the sequel, Amazon.ca (Canada) has them so I will be ordering them soon and then will have fun using Google translator to translate from French to English! Hope this helps, thanks for creating this blog. Loved this book and now the graphic novel unicorns have finally started to appear...(No longer are they hard to find mythical creatures!)

  6. I have volumes 1 and 3 graphic novels in fine condition. Any idea what they are worth?

  7. Volume One is worth about $20-$30 at the high side, about $8-$10 on the low, because it is the most common of the NBM limited graphic novel series. Now, IF they are hard backed or signed by the artist and author, they are worth much more...like a hundred bucks more.
    Volume Three is more rare, and few retailers have it. I bought mine from Mile High Comics two years ago for about $13 in fine condition.
    Now, Volume Two is the most rare, I've never seen it for less than $80, which is why I do not own it! If you had Volume Two, we would have to talk money.
    Lone Star Comics is sold out of both of the volumes you have, and they buy. I know this because they are headquartered in the town I live in. Contact them and see how much they would pay.