Valerian and Laureline book 10: Brooklyn Line Terminus Cosmos


By Méziéres & Christin, with colours by E. Tranlé; translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-263-8

Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent debuted in continental weekly Pilote #420 (November 9th 1967) and was an instant hit. It became Valérian and Laureline as his feisty distaff sidekick quickly developed into an equal partner – if not scene-stealing star – through a string of light-hearted, fantastic time-travelling, space-warping romps packed with cunningly satirical humanist action, challenging philosophy and astute political commentary.

At the start Valerian was an affably capable yet unimaginative by-the-book space cop tasked with protecting the official universal chronology (at least as it affects humankind) by counteracting and correcting paradoxes caused by incautious time-travellers.

When he travelled to 11th century France in debut tale ‘Les Mauvais Rêves (‘Bad Dreams’ and still not translated into English yet), he was rescued from doom by a tempestuously formidable young woman named Laureline whom he had no choice but to bring back with him to the 28th century super-citadel/administrative capital of the Terran Empire, Galaxity.

The indomitable female firebrand then crash-trained as an operative and accompanied him on subsequent missions – a beguiling succession of light-hearted, space-warping, social-conscience building epics.

The so-sophisticated series always had room to propound a satirical, liberal ideology and agenda (best summed up as “why can’t we all just get along?”), constantly launching telling fusillades of commentary-by-example to underpin an astounding cascade of visually appealing, visionary space operas.

The tenth Cinebook translation – and conclusion of the series’ first extended saga Brooklyn Line Terminus Cosmos was originally serialised in the monthly Pilote #M70 – M73 from March to June 1980 before being released as an album. The time bending, space-warping saga had begun with the partners-in-peril separated by centuries and light years: Laureline dispatched to the vast Cassiopeia system, whilst her partner was deposited in Paris in 1980 in search of astounding and seemingly mystical threats.

Although acting apart, Laureline and Valerian are still “enjoying” intimate contact, thanks to Terran ingenuity and recent neurosurgeries. Being telepathically linked and sharing information on the mission has its own intrinsic problems however…

Valerian feels like a fish out of water, constantly reminded how little he knows or understands the people and history of his birthworld. His guide, the volubly affable, infuriatingly unrushed and always tardy Mr. Albert seems unsuited to the work: investigating, sifting and collating incalculable amounts of data on everything fringe, strange or whacky that occurs in the 20th century he has adopted as his home-away-from-home, but without the dash and verve a real hero needs…

Monstrous manifestations have been menacing the city and its environs: horrific creatures which appear to be demonic iterations of ancient elemental forces Fire, Water and Earth but there’s also an as-yet unexplained connection to two rival mega-corporations: W.A.A.M (World American Advanced Machines) and its equally unscrupulous competitor Bellson & Gambler.

Laureline is meanwhile scouring the colossal Cassiopeia system alone: following barely tangible leads regarding the classical concept of the Four Elements through a number of weird worlds, she eventually arrives at vast interplanetary dumping planet Zomuk where, after an epic struggle against ghastly odds, she enters a hidden shrine to gaze upon fantastic representations of the very Elemental Forces which underpin the universe and are threatening 20th century Earth…

Back in Paris, her psychic contact with Valerian is broken when he storms out into the Parisian night, utterly oblivious to the fact that he’s being followed by enigmatic figures in an expensive automobile. And then he accepts a lift from a pretty girl in a sports-car…

After a full recap the story resumes here some relative hours later as Laureline finally wakes her slumbering, cosmically distant partner. She is psychically aware of the woman sleeping beside him and takes great pleasure in razzing him on his conquest “in the line of duty”…

Fun over, Laureline imparts crucial information: the puissant yet debased ancients of Zomuk now seemingly worship two strange new godlike beings and are sharing with them the awesome power of Elemental artefacts they have preserved for centuries. Sadly she suspects the lordly strangers are far from divine and have extremely venal if not outright criminal motives for their attentiveness.

Moreover, when the deities started squabbling over the potent offerings, the native Zoms start to smell a rat too…

Now with Laureline tracking the impostors deep into a region dominated by astral pirates and fugitives, Valerian returns to his new companion, suspicious that she also is not what she seems…

He’s not wrong. The highly competent Miss Cynthia Westerly is highly placed in one of the corporations pursuing the uncanny phenomena plaguing Paris, but is oblivious to the fact that the big oaf she thought she safely seduced and left is actually following when she heads for the Pompidou Centre to try and capture the next Elemental manifestation…

As he trails her, however, Valerian becomes aware that her rivals are in pursuit and plays a very deft trick to throw them all off guard…

Rendezvousing with Albert, the Spatio-Temporal Agent manages to get his hands on the surprisingly compact “Creature of Air and Dreams” before anybody else but the brief contact leaves him changed and damaged…

As Albert hustles him away, Valerian slips into tenuous contact with Laureline but the communication is oddly garbled, since his consciousness is simultaneously wandering the timelines: glimpsing events from his past and many which have yet to occur…

His bewildering loss of temporal continuity continues even as Albert drags his dazed presence onto a jet, heading for a final confrontation with the warring corporate cliques. The entire journey is punctuated with bizarre visions which Laureline cannot help but share and on arrival in New York Albert takes the debilitated agent to see an old friend: aged Kabbalah scholar Schlomo Meilsheim who has a few ideas on a remedy for the increasingly escalating condition…

The situation has not gone unnoticed by the voracious corporations either. With their grand schemes of and profitable new proprietary energy sources threatened they have instigated a mass convocation of every fringe scientist, modern mystic, seer, religious nut and new age quack in the country: a last ditch attempt to regain control of the elemental forces currently tormenting Valerian…

Naturally Schlomo is invited too and he brings his friends along to the desolate, snow-swept reaches of Brooklyn. When Val wanders off, terse communication with Laureline reveals the truth about his latest visions and the dangers she’s been battling single-handed in pursuit of the faux gods.

Now as Elementals catastrophically manifest amongst the massed mystics, she enacts a bold plan to cut off the problem at source; severing the uncanny connection between devastating forces devised by the Zoms and its unfortunate link to unwary, unhappy 20th century Earth…

Sly, subtle, brilliantly mind-boggling and moodily mysterious, this sharp saga is a trans-time tale of subtle power, dripping with devilish wit, but no matter how trenchant, barbed, culturally aware or ethically crusading, Valerian and Laureline yarns never allow message to overshadow excitement or entertainment. This is one of the most memorable romps Méziéres & Christin ever concocted, and heralded the start of even greater epics to come …
© Dargaud Paris, 1981 Christin, Méziéres & Tran-Lệ. All rights reserved. English translation © 2015 Cinebook Ltd.