In the world of Ender Wiggin, there's more going on than just a boy making war against aliens. "Ender's Game: War Of Gifts" brings together four side-stories from Orson Scott Card's Enderverse, rendered in comic book form -- the art is a bit dodgy at times, but the short stories are fascinating add-ons to "Ender's Game."
"War of Gifts" breaks out when Zech Morgan, son of a fanatical preacher who condemns everything, is drafted into Battle School against his will. Zech shows nothing but pious contempt for his classmates and superiors, and when the other kids playfully celebrate Christmas he disrupts the festive favors -- and it may take Ender Wiggin to show him what the real problem is.
"Mazer in Prison" follows the story of Mazer Rackham, a war hero from the second war against the formics -- and now he's in a spaceship going at near the speed of light, keeping him from aging. The military is now desperate to have him working for them once more, even getting his family to speak to him. Now Mazer must make a world-changing decision on his own...
"Recruiting Valentine" follows Ender's sister Valentine, who has been admitted into an elite school. The new English teacher resents teaching kids who didn't make the Battle School cut, and starts handing out rotten grades as revenge. Valentine is determined to stop him somehow, but it takes her ruthless brother's advice to show her how to change the situation.
And finally, "League War" shows what happened after the war with the formics ended -- with no more need for a hegemonic single government, nations begin scrabbling for power. The ones who shape public opinion across the world are two online posters called Demosthenes and Locke, aka Valentine and Peter Wiggin -- and they will begin and end their own little war on Earth.
None of the four stories in "Ender's Game: War of Gifts" will make much sense unless you've read the original "Ender's Game" story (whether in book or comic form). But they make nice side-dishes to the main story of Ender -- not only do they flesh out the tale of Battle School and its origins, but also some of the everyday life of Ender's relatives.
Each story is also quite well-written, with some very powerful moments (Mazer reading the hundreds of letters his now-elderly wife wrote him). The characters are also a pretty varied bunch -- Zech is an annoying priggish kid who adheres rigidly to his abusive father's rules, Mazer is a kindly man who sticks to his principles no matter what, and Valentine is a sweet, smart girl who seems slightly disturbed by Peter's ruthless machinations.
The art is fairly good, realistic and well-drawn, with lots of strong colors that overpower the scenery (rooms filled with red light, yellow screens, bright sunlit schoolyards). The only problem is that some of the faces are a little weird -- people who are yelling look BERSERK, and one official in "Mazer in Prison" looks like he's got some kind of weird skin disease instead of wrinkles.
"Ender's Game: War of Games" is a thoroughly solid quartet of side-stories, which help flesh out the world of Ender. If you like the Enderverse, this is a good read.