A Featured Graphic Novel Review
Where to buy this graphic novel:
- Erich Maria Remarque – Source material/novel originally published in 1928.
- Wayne Vansant – Art/Lettering/Adaptation
- Published by Dead Reckoning in Annapolis, Maryland
DISCLAIMER: Dead Reckoning were gracious enough to provide me with a review copy of All Quiet on the Western Front. Despite receiving a free copy to review, I am under no obligation to provide a positive review. As always, my review will reflect how I truly feel about the content.
War is often romanticized. People dream of finding glory and purpose in war. Sometimes they succeed in realizing those dreams. However for Paul Bäumer and his comrades, such is not the case. All Quiet on the Western Front tells a tale of strength, friendship, and brotherhood, and how war can destroy such things in a flash.
This graphic novel is my first exposure to All Quiet on the Western Front. I haven’t yet read the source material by Erich Maria Remarque, and I haven’t seen any of the motion picture adaptations of it. Presented by author/artist Wayne Vansant, we get a close look at just how horrific war can be.
END OF SPOILER-FREE ZONE
You are now exiting the spoiler-free zone. Do yourself a favor and stop reading if you don’t want any spoilers.
In All Quiet on the Western Front we see soldiers and recruits grow together in basic training. Then they are thrown to the front lines in World War One. All they have is each other, and all they know is fear and an everlasting drive to survive. Despite fear of death or worse, they push forward, wondering why anyone would agree to take part in waging war. They didn’t ask for war. Their families at home didn’t ask for war. It is something thrown upon them that consumes their beings entirely.
When Paul Bäumer goes on leave, he doesn’t understand or relate to his home town anymore. All he knows is war and the brotherhood he gained at the front. He yearns to see his comrades again, despite his ailing mother wishing that he could stay. He is permanently affected, and it leaves him feeling lost without his uniform and company. In this way it depicts war as prison: Something you never return from, whether or not you are released.
Wayne Vansant depicts the front lines with great detail. We see makeshift graveyards being turned into battlefields. When the mortars hit, the danger doesn’t just come from above. The blasts are so strong that it sends dirt, splinters, and other debris through the air at deadly velocity. We see soldiers survive with grave injuries, only to endure unfathomable pain before death. When Paul Bäumer kills a man face-to-face, he can’t help but wonder if things could have gone another way. His victim, still alive and breathing after a fatal stab wound, can only communicate fear and confusion with his eyes. Paul can only process it through his own guilt.
In this terrible war that they were thrown into, one-by-one Paul sees his brothers die. Finally, in the end he is alone. He has no one to confide in, and no one who could possibly relate to what he is going through. In his loneliness, he fully succumbs to the war.
Wayne Vansant’s artwork is fantastic. You can see the love put in with each pencil stroke, and the coloring is fully-detailed. Since I haven’t consumed the source material, I’m not sure if any of the story was re-written for the adaptation. I can tell you that the story is intense and will strike at your heart more than once. I highly recommend you pick up this graphic novel and give it a read. It is a true tribute to the soldiers who gave up their lives for war.