Valerian and Laureline book 7: On the False Earths


By Méziéres & Christin, with colours by E. Tranlé and translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-190-7

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Stellar Entertainment to last the year through… 9/10

Valérian and Laureline is the most influential science fiction comics series ever created; an innovation-packed, Big-Ideas bonanza stuffed with wry observation, knowing humour, intoxicating action and sardonic sideswipes at contemporary mores and prejudices.

As Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent the strip debuted in the weekly Pilote #420 (November 9th 1967) and was an instant hit. It rapidly evolved into its current designation as his feisty, fire-headed sidekick developed into the equal partner – if not scene-stealing star – of light-hearted, fantastically imaginative, visually stunning, time-travelling, space-warping fantasies which nevertheless always found room to propound a satirical, humanist ideology and let loose telling fusillades of political commentary.

At first tough, bluff Valerian was an affable, capable (if unimaginative), by-the-book space cop tasked with protecting official universal chronology (at least as per Terran Empire standards) by intercepting or counteracting paradoxes caused by incautious time-travellers.

When Valérian landed in 11th century France during debut tale ‘Les Mauvais Rêves (‘Bad Dreams’ and infuriatingly still not translated into English yet), he was rescued from doom by a capable young woman named Laureline. He brought her back to the 28th century super-citadel and administrative capital of the Terran Empire, Galaxity, where the indomitable female firebrand trained as a spatiotemporal operative and began accompanying him on all his missions.

On the False Earths originally appeared in the newly monthly Pilote (issues #M31 to M34 (30th November 1976 -1st March 1977) before being collected as seventh album Sur le terres truquées – spectacularly reinforcing the “spatiotemporal” aspect of our heroes through a beguiling cosmic conundrum…

The story starts in frantic full flow as a very familiar figure fights valiantly and dies ignominiously during a pitched battle in 19th century Colonial India. He doesn’t go easy, however, using his ray gun to disintegrate an attacking tiger before beaming back crucial data stolen from a sinister maharaja equipped with technology he simply shouldn’t have…

In deep space distraught Laureline sees her man die, but her protests are ignored by heartless, man-despising historian Jadna. The scholar cares little for the oafish warrior undertaking a top secret mission for her. After all, there’s plenty more where he came from…

That’s literally the case as, a little later, another Valerian infiltrates Victorian London Society, breaking into a swank Gentleman’s Club and crashing a meeting of the Empire’s greatest movers and shakers. Once again these potentates are communicating with a hidden high-tech master, and once again the star cop expires trying to determine the mastermind’s exact whereabouts.

He resurfaces in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1895 where enquiries arouse the wrath of the local tongs. This Valerian perishes after noting an increasing number of anachronisms – such as an Easy Rider on a chopped Harley Davidson motorbike…

From their secure vantage point on a vast satellite Jadna and Laureline see their agent expire in another artificially constructed historical microcosm. The callous historian ruminates on their mystery opponent: a being capable of reshaping matter, crafting perfect little worlds and recreating human eras with the skill of a master artist whilst remaining utterly hidden from all their probing searches. If the enigma hadn’t been detected rifling through Terran time zones – presumably for research – no one would even know of its existence…

The creator’s simulacrums are progressively advancing through brutal but significant periods of Terran history, but each visit by Valerian brings the investigation team closer to the mysterious maker’s actual location. Soon our hero is cautiously exploring a slice of Belle Époque France, but his enigmatic quarry is cognizant of the constant intrusions and has taken a few liberties with verisimilitude.

Waiting in ambush for Valerian are American gangsters with Tommyguns…

Rubbed out before he can even begin, Valerian is swiftly replaced by another short-lived duplicate whilst the original and genuine lies comatose in a clone-command tank. This last rapid substitution, however, finally allows the watching women to zero in on their target’s true location and they instantly shift their ship through the universal continua to reach the incredible being’s astounding base… and none too soon, as Jadna posits that the creature’s next construction will most likely be World War I…

She is proved painfully correct. As they ready themselves for a confrontation with the maker Laureline and the scholar realise that the astral citadel is a perfect replica of a Great War battlefield. Seizing the initiative Jadna activates and musters all the remaining clones – as well as the original McCoy – programming them to play the marauding “boche” in an apocalyptic re-enactment simply as a diversion to allow her to get to the impossibly powerful being she so admires…

Caught up in the incomprehensible slaughter and its bizarre aftermath the two spatiotemporal agents can only watch in astonishment as Jadna and the seemingly all-powerful artisan discover just how much they have in common…

Trenchant, barbed, socially aware and ethically crusading, Valerian and Laureline stories never allow message to overshadow fun and wonder and On the False Earths is one of the sharpest, most intriguing sagas Méziéres & Christin ever concocted, complete with a superb twist in the tale to delight and confound even the most experienced starfarer.

© Dargaud Paris, 1977 Christin, Méziéres & Tran-Lệ. All rights reserved. English translation © 2014 Cinebook Ltd.

Valerian and Laureline book 6: Ambassador of the Shadows


By Méziéres & Christin, with colours by E. Tranlé and translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-178-5   (Dargaud edition) 2-205-06949-7

Valérian and Laureline is the most influential science fiction comics series ever drawn, an innovation-packed big ideas drama stuffed with wry comment and sardonic sideswipes at contemporary mores and prejudices.

Although to a large extent those venerable strips defined and later re-defined the medium itself, anybody who has seen a Star Wars movie or that franchise’s numerous homages, pastiches and rip-offs has been exposed to many doses of Jean-Claude Méziéres & Pierre Christin’s brilliant imaginings uniquely innovative, grungy, lived-in authentic futurism and light-hearted swashbuckling rollercoaster romps of Méziéres & Christin than any other cartoon spacer.

Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent debuted in Pilote #420 (November 9th 1967) and was an instant hit. It gradually evolved into Valérian and Laureline as the feisty sidekick developed into the equal partner – if not scene stealing star – in a light-hearted, fantastically imaginative time-travelling, space-warping fantasy stuffed with wry, satirical, humanist action and political commentary.

At first Valerian was an affable, capable but unimaginative by-the-book space cop tasked with protecting the official universal chronology by counteracting paradoxes caused by incautious time-travellers.

When Valérian 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 fiery, capable young woman named Laureline. He brought her back to the 28th century super-citadel and administrative capital of the Terran Empire, Galaxity. The indomitable female firebrand trained as a Spatiotemporal operative and began accompanying him on all his missions.

Ambassador of the Shadows originally ran in Pilote from July to October 1975 and finds the wide-ranging Spatiotemporal agents assigned to an arrogant and obnoxious Terran diplomat transferring to the cosmically cosmopolitan space edifice known as Point Central.

Over the eons many races and species have converged there for commerce and social intercourse by the simple expedient of bolting their own prefabricated constructed segment to the colossal, continually expanding hodge-podge whole…

With no central authority, different species take turns presiding over the amassed multitudes via the immense Hall of Screens. However, no decent species would ever leave its own tailor-made environment…

And now it is Earth’s turn to take the lead but, as they vector in for landing, the pompous martinet they are escorting informs Valerian and Laureline of a slight modification in their orders. They are still to the Ambassador’s bodyguards but must stay extra vigilant as Earth is going to uses its term in office to bring “order and discipline” to the lackadaisical way the universe is run.

The assembled races will be invited to join a federation run – and policed – by Earth. …And just to make sure, there’s a Terran space fleet of 10, 000 warships manoeuvring just out of Point Central’s  sensor range…

Laureline is outraged but like Valerian can do nothing except acquiesce. For her pains she is put in charge of the mission’s funds – a Grumpy Transmuter from Bluxte – which can mass-excrete any currency or object of trade or barter swallowed by its always scowling other end…

All kitted-out, the trio and the living cash-machine spacewalk to Point Central but before the mission can begin an alien ambush occurs. Mystery warriors using Xoxos cocoon guns inundate the attending officers and dignitaries and only Valerian escapes plastic entombment.

As the raiders make off with the Ambassador, the Spatiotemporal Agent gives chase but is easily captured and dragged off too…

By the time Laureline breaks loose they are long gone and she is left to pick up the pieces with stiff-necked human bureaucrat Colonel Diol, Under Chief of Protocol.

Determined but with little to go on, she is cautiously optimistic when a trio of aliens come knocking. Ignoring Diol’s protest at the shocking impropriety she invites the scurrilous Shingouz into the Earth Segment. They are mercenary information brokers and claim to have been invited by the Ambassador before his abduction…

From them – and thanks to the pained efforts of the Grumpy Transmuter – she purchases a few hints and allegations as well as a map of Point Central which might lead to Earth’s secret allies in the cosmopolis…

With the constantly bleating Diol reluctantly in tow, Laureline begins a quest through the underbelly of the station, seeing for the first time the mute but ubiquitous Zools: a much ignored under-race which has been maintaining Point Central for millennia.

The Earthlings’ perambulations take them to the centaur-like Kamuniks: barbaric feudal mercenaries allied to Galaxity and appreciative of humanity’s martial prowess, and over a lavish feast – liberally augmented by another painfully exotic payment courtesy of the overworked Transmuter – the warriors steer Laureline towards potential suspects the Bagulins: low grade muscle-for-hire who frequent the tawdry red-light sector run by The Suffuss

Despite Diol’s nigh-apoplexy the adamant and inquisitive Laureline follows the trail to the sin segment where she experiences the particular talents of the hosts: amorphous shapeshifters who can make any carnal dream come literally true.

Well into overtime now, the exhausted Grumpy buys the help of one Suffuss who smuggles the junior Spatiotemporal operative into a Bagulin party and the next link in the chain…

And so it goes as, with occasional prodding from the Shingouz, Laureline gets ever-closer to the enigmatic beings truly pulling all the strings on Point Central whilst elsewhere Valerian frees the Ambassador from a bizarre and ethereal captivity only to find the doctrinaire war-maker is undergoing a strange change of heart.

Seemingly landing their deserted ship on a paradisiacal “world with no name” they bask in an idyllic paradise and converse with noble primitives who have an uncanny aura of great power.

These beings built the first section of Point Central and ruled the universe before withdrawing from mundane material affairs, but they still maintain a watch over their creation from the shadows and won’t let any race or species to dominate or conquer their pan-galactic melting pot of space…

In a more physical portion of reality Laureline follows her final clues and reaches the strange central area where Val and the Ambassador lie dazed and confused. By the time they all return to the Earth Segment a few major changes have taken place in the governance of the immense star station but, oddly, the Ambassador doesn’t seem to mind…

Ambassador of the Shadows was the first Valerian tale to make it into English, appearing as a serial in the American Heavy Metal magazine from January to April 1984 (volume 4, #10 to Volume 5, #1).

Socially aware and ethically crusading, this is one of the smartest, most beguilingly cynical comics tales to catch the 1970s wave of political awareness and still ranks amongst the very best to explore the social aspects and iniquities of colonialism.

And of course there’s the usual glorious blend of astounding action, imaginative imagery and fantastic creatures to leaven the morality play with space-operatic fun-filled, visually breathtaking and stunningly ingenious wide-eyed wonderment…

Between 1981 and 1985, Dargaud-Canada and Dargaud-USA published a quartet of these albums in English (with a limited UK imprint from Hodder-Dargaud) under the umbrella title Valerian: Spatiotemporal Agent and this tale was the fourth release, translated then by L. Mitchell.

Although this modern Cinebook release boasts far better print and colour values plus a more fluid translation, total completists might also be interested in tracking down the 20th century edition too as it boasts a foreword by comics god Will Eisner, full creator biographies and a fascinating, insightful illustrated overview by French science fiction author and editor Daniel Riche…

© Dargaud Paris, 1975 Christin, Méziéres & Tran-Lệ. All rights reserved. English translation © 2012 Cinebook Ltd.

Valerian and Laureline volume 5: Birds of the Master


By Méziéres & Christin, with colours by J. Goffard and translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-152-5

Valérian is the most influential straight science fiction comics series ever drawn – and yes, that includes even Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Dan Dare and Judge Dredd.

Although to a large extent those venerable strips defined or re-defined the medium itself, anybody who has seen a Star Wars movie or that franchise’s overwhelming tsunami of homages, pastiches and rip-offs has been exposed to substantial doses of Jean-Claude Méziéres & Pierre Christin’s brilliant imaginings (which the filmic phenomenon has shamelessly plundered for decades): everything from the character and look of alien races and cultures to the design of the Millennium Falcon and even Leia’s Slave Girl outfit …

Simply put, more humans have experienced and marvelled at the uniquely innovative, grungy, lived-in authentic futurism and light-hearted swashbuckling rollercoaster romps of Méziéres & Christin than any other cartoon spacer.

Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent launched in the November 9th 1967 edition of Pilote (#420) and was an instant hit. In 1977 the fervour surrounding Greg & Eddy Paape’s Luc Orient and Philippe Druillet’s Lone Sloane, combined with Valérian’s popularity, led to the creation of adult graphic sci-fi blockbuster Métal Hurlant.

Valérian and Laureline (as the series became) is a light-hearted, wildly imaginative time-travelling, space-warping fantasy steeped in wry, satirical, humanist action and trenchant political commentary, starring – in the early days at least – an affable, capable yet unimaginative by-the-book cop tasked with protecting the official universal chronology by counteracting paradoxes caused by incautious time-travellers.

When Valérian travelled to 11th century France in the initial tale Les Mauvais Rêves (‘Bad Dreams’ and still as yet unavailable in English), he was rescued from doom by a fiery, capable young woman named Laureline whom he brought back to 28th century Galaxity: super-citadel and administrative capital of the Terran Empire,.

The indomitable lass subsequently trained as a Spatio-Temporal operative and began accompanying him on all his missions.

Every subsequent Valérian romp was initially serialised weekly until the 13th ‘The Rage of Hypsis’ concluded, after which further yarns were solely published as all-new graphic novels. Tragically the whole spectacular saga resolved and ended in 2010.

Birds of the Master originally ran in Pilote #710-720 (June 14th to September 16th 1973) and follows the constantly bickering couple as they are drawn into an eerie space Sargasso and marooned on a planetoid that has become a cemetery for spaceships.

Swept away by a tidal wave over a colossal waterfall, they are drowning amidst beds of kelp when a motley band of fisherfolk – comprised of many different species – haul the Spatio-Temporal agents aboard a ramshackle boat. In the skies high above, a vast cloud of malevolent birds circle, the same incredible creatures which had brought down their astroship.

Compelled to join in gathering the seaweed, they soon learn that the crop is destined for a mysterious unseen overlord dubbed The Master and the critically circling ugly avians are his enforcers: violent creatures that inflict madness with a bite…

The workers are nothing but slaves and bitterly discontented recent arrival Sül takes it upon himself to teach Valerian and Laureline what they need to know to stay alive as the cargo is torturously shipped across the bleak, unforgiving and forlorn terrain. As they go they observe an entire society all dedicated to providing vast amounts of food for the hidden overlord.

At the central gathering point where assorted food items from a hundred different sources are reduced to a liquid mass dubbed “Klaar” one of the starving toilers cracks, seeking to consume a morsel of the Master’s provender, and is immediately set upon by the Birds of Madness. Furious Sül breaks too and, dashing to the worker’s aid, is also attacked. Cautious Valerian can barely stop his partner using her concealed ray-weapons in a futile attempt to save them…

When the Birds are done the battered survivors can barely speak and one believes he can fly whilst Sül is left a babbling, aggressive shadow of his former self.

With the Klaar safely dispatched through a complex system of pipes to a distant hidden destination, the emaciated workers fall upon the spilled scraps before hurling the latest victims of the birds into the Pit of Crazies. Despite being thoroughly beaten in the melee, our heroes follow and join Sül in a peculiar enclave of deranged beings, each manifesting their own brand of bewilderment but all sharing the same strange and disturbing speech impediment…

Valerian and Laureline are again viciously attacked when they seek aid from the “sane” slaves so instead opt to follow the pipeline with the most ambulatory of the insane, heading deep into increasingly inhospitable country to confront the hidden cause of all their woes.

At first frantically followed by the outraged slave force, the strange crew eventually outdistance their pursuers as they continue deep into the harsh and barren wastelands until they are attacked by the ever-circling birds. As a result the Spatio-Temporal agents are also infected by the speech-wrecking madness…

Pressing on regardless, the raving rovers follow an eerie glowing mist and at last face the appalling and hideous creature which has lured, trapped and enslaved so many sentient beings, only to be subjected to an overwhelming psychic assault that no single mind – sane or otherwise – could resist.

Happily, it had never faced anyone as ingenious as Laureline and her desperate plan enables the assembled “Loonies” to fight back and drive the Master off-planet and into the depths of space…

With the creature’s pernicious influence dispelled, the voyagers feel their senses returning and return to the settlements where the slaves have descended into a food-fuelled debauch. Surprisingly, however, once Valerian and Laureline have freed and repaired their astroship from the stellar graveyard, only Sül wants to leave with them…

Expansive, thrilling, funny, clever and holding back one last wry twist in the tale, The Birds of the Master might be one of the lesser galactic classics of this superb series, but it still packs a gripping narrative punch and some of the most impressive artwork ever to grace sci-fi comics.
© Dargaud Paris, 1973 Christin, Méziéres & Goffard. All rights reserved. English translation © 2013 Cinebook Ltd.

Valerian and Laureline book 4: Welcome to Alflolol


By Méziéres & Christin, with colours by E. Tranlé and translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-087-0   (Dargaud edition) 2-205-06573-4

Valérian is the most influential science fiction comics series ever drawn – and yes, that includes even Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Dan Dare and Judge Dredd.

Although to a large extent those venerable strips defined and later re-defined the medium itself, anybody who has seen a Star Wars movie or that franchise’s overwhelming homages, pastiches and rip-offs has been exposed to doses of Jean-Claude Méziéres & Pierre Christin’s brilliant imaginings (which the filmic phenomenon has shamelessly plundered for decades): everything from the character and look of alien races and cultures to the design of the Millennium Falcon and even Leia’s Slave Girl outfit …

Simply put, more carbon-based life-forms have experienced and marvelled at the uniquely innovative, grungy, lived-in authentic futurism and light-hearted swashbuckling rollercoaster romps of Méziéres & Christin than any other cartoon spacer.

The groundbreaking series followed a Franco-Belgian mini-boom in fantasy fiction triggered by Jean-ClaudeForest’s 1962 creation Barbarella.

Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent launched in the November 9th, 1967 edition of Pilote (#420) and was an instant hit. In 1977 the fervour surrounding Greg & Eddy Paape’s Luc Orient and Philippe Druillet’s Lone Sloane, combined with Valérian’s popularity led to the creation of an adult graphic sci-fi blockbuster – Métal Hurlant.

Valérian and Laureline (as the series eventually became) is a light-hearted, wildly imaginative time-travelling, space-warping fantasy teeming with wry, satirical, humanist action and political commentary, starring – in the early days at least – an affable, capable yet unimaginative by-the-book cop tasked with protecting the official universal chronology by counteracting paradoxes caused by incautious time-travellers.

When Valérian travelled to 11th century France in the initial tale ‘Les Mauvais Rêves (‘Bad Dreams’ and still not translated into English yet), he was rescued from doom by a fiery, capable young woman named Laureline whom he brought back to 28th century super-citadel and administrative capital of the Terran Empire, Galaxity.

The indomitable lass subsequently trained as a Spatio-Temporal operative and began accompanying him on all his missions.

Every subsequent Valérian adventure until the 13th was initially serialised weekly until ‘The Rage of Hypsis’ concluded, after which further yarns were solely published as all-new complete graphic novels. The whole spectacular saga resolved and ended in 2010.

Welcome to Alflolol originally ran in Pilote #631-652 (December 1971-May 11th 1972) and follows the Spatio-Temporal agents as they depart from Technorog, a desolate industrial planet whose vast resources are crucial to the running of human civilisation. So vital in fact that Galaxity sends her best agents just to inspect it every now and then…

As the S-T agents carefully negotiate the immense forcefield and asteroid belt that envelope the harsh and ferociously capitalistic factory world, Laureline is repeatedly possessed by an uncanny force. The fit also leads the couple to an immense ship which has foundered between the rocks and energy screen.

Investigating the vessel, which is purposely open to hard vacuum, Laureline again lapses into a glowing coma and eerily drifts towards a family of incredibly powerful yet rustically affable alien primitives sitting on the hull of their ship.

Valerian, closely following behind, prevents a terrible accident to his companion and is warmly greeted by the strangers, who explains that the eldest of the beings is very ill and in her throes has locked minds with his female. If they’re not careful, both could die…

Garrulous, easygoing Argol agrees to let Valerian treat the problem, and his wife Orgal telekinetically transports the Earthlings, her entire family and their pet Gumun back to the S-T astroship in mere moments. Soon Terran technology has saved both the human and alien and Argol settles back to explain what has happened…

The wanderers are naively friendly and immensely long-lived – like all their species – and are just returning to their homeworld Alflolol from an amusing perambulation through space. However since their departure – 4,000 Earth years ago – somebody has moved in…

Despite the Governor of Technorog’s protests, Galaxity law is clear and the Alflololians must be allowed back on their planet.

However the wheedling plutocrat – secure in his job’s importance to the empire – realises he doesn’t have to hand over the keys, just make room for the five meekly polite cosmic gypsies, who simply cannot grasp the concept of business and don’t understand why anybody would put up lots of flimsy, ugly buildings and spoil the hunting……

As Valerian allows the businessmen to walk all over the aliens’ rights, Laureline goes berserk: arguing for Argol’s family and indulging in a little light-hearted sabotage because the gentle giants won’t do it for themselves…

She needn’t bother though: their mere presence and incredible abilities are enough to disrupt the Governor’s precious productivity, especially when they get bored of sterile human accommodations and return to their ancestral ranges…

The real crisis only begins when the rest of the nomadic Alflololians return: one hundred separate ships full of natives protected by law and fully entitled to reclaim their homes.

The humans aren’t leaving, however, and soon the Governor has begun herding the wanderers onto a reservation and demanding they work if they want to eat.

Big mistake…

Socially aware and crusading, this is one of the earliest comics tales to catch the 1970s wave of ecological awareness and still ranks amongst the very best to explore the social iniquities which beset indigenous peoples at a time when most European ex-empires were still divesting themselves of their colonial possessions.

The theme of Capitalism versus Native Culture and the eternal struggle between territorial imperatives, moral rights and holy profit have seldom been dealt with in such an effective, sardonic and hilarious surreal manner. Ending on an outrageous twist, the story has lost none of its wit and punch forty years later.

And of course there’s the usual glorious blend of astounding action, imaginative imagery and fantastic creatures to leaven the morality play with space-operatic fun-filled, visually breathtaking and stunningly ingenious wide-eyed wonderment…

Between 1981 and 1985, Dargaud-Canada and Dargaud-USA published a quartet of these albums in English (with a limited UK imprint from Hodder-Dargaud) under the umbrella title Valerian: Spatiotemporal Agent and this tale was the third release, translated then by L. Mitchell.

Although this modern Cinebook release boasts far better print and colour values and a more fluid translation, total completists might also be interested in tracking down those 20th century releases too…
© Dargaud Paris, 1972 Christin, Méziéres & Tran-Lệ. All rights reserved. English translation © 2012 Cinebook Ltd.

Valerian and Laureline book 3: the Land Without Stars


By Méziéres & Christin, with colours by E. Tranlé and translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-087-0   (Dargaud edition) 2-205-06573-4

Valérian is the most influential science fiction comics series ever drawn – and yes, that includes even Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Dan Dare and Judge Dredd.

Although to a large extent those venerable strips defined and later re-defined the medium itself, anybody who has seen a Star Wars movie has been exposed to doses of Jean-Claude Méziéres & Pierre Christin’s brilliant imaginings which the filmic phenomenon has shamelessly plundered for decades: everything from the character and look of alien races and cultures to the design of the Millennium Falcon and even Leia’s Slave Girl outfit …

Simply put, more carbon-based lifeforms have experienced and marvelled at the uniquely innovative, grungy, lived-in tech realism and light-hearted swashbuckling rollercoaster romps of Méziéres & Christin than any other cartoon spacer.

The groundbreaking series followed a Franco-Belgian mini-boom in fantasy fiction triggered by Jean-Claude Forest’s 1962 creation Barbarella. Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent launched in the November 9th, 1967 edition of Pilote (#420) and was an instant hit. In combination with Greg & Eddy Paape’s Luc Orient and Philippe Druillet’s Lone Sloane, Valérian’s hot public reception led to the creation of dedicated adult graphic sci-fi magazine Métal Hurlant in 1977.

Valérian and Laureline (as the series eventually became) is a light-hearted, wildly imaginative time-travelling, space-warping fantasy teeming with wry, satirical, humanist action and political commentary, starring – in the early days at least – an affable, capable, unimaginative and by-the-book cop tasked with protecting the official universal chronology by counteracting paradoxes caused by casual time-travellers.

When Valérian travelled to 11th century France in the initial tale ‘Les Mauvais Rêves (‘Bad Dreams’ and still not translated to English yet) he was rescued from doom by a fiery, capable young woman named Laureline whom he brought back to the 28th century super-citadel and administrative capital of the Terran Empire, Galaxity. The indomitable lass subsequently trained as a Spatio-Temporal operative and began accompanying him on his missions.

Every subsequent Valérian adventure until the 13th was initially serialised weekly in Pilote until the conclusion of ‘The Rage of Hypsis’ after which the mind-boggling yarns were only published as all-new complete graphic novels, until the whole spectacular saga resolved and ended in 2010.

The Land Without Stars originally ran in Pilote #570-592 (October 8th 1970 to March 11th 1971) and followed the Spatio-Temporal agents as they went about a tedious pro forma inspection of a cluster of new Terran colonies in the Ukbar star-sytem at the very edge of inter-galactic space…

However the mission soon goes awry when a wandering world is detected on a collision course with the system and Valerian, still suffering the effects of too much local alcoholic “diplomatic protocol” decides that they should investigate at close quarters…

Despite being pickled, the lead agent lands with his long-suffering assistant on the runaway planet and discovers that the celestial maverick is hollow. Moreover, a thriving ancient culture or three dwell there, utterly unaware that they are not the only beings in all of creation…

Typically however of sentient beings everywhere, two of the civilisations are locked in a millennia old war, armed and supplied by the third…

After an accident wrecks their exploratory scout ship Valerian and Laureline deduce that the constant warfare originally caused the hollow world to tumble unchecked through space and will eventually cause its complete destruction, so in short order the professional meddlers split up to infiltrate the warring nations of Malka and Valsennar.

However they are in for a surprise since both city-states are divided on gender grounds, with Malka home to prodigious warrior women who subjugate their effete and feeble males whilst the aristocratically foppish but deadly dandies of Valsennar delight in beautiful, proficient and lethally lovely ladies – but only as compliant servants…

The highly trained Galaxity operatives quickly rise in the ranks of each court – from slaves and toys to perfectly placed, trusted servants – and soon have ample opportunity to change the nature of the doomed civilisations within the collision-course world, after which the heroes even concoct a canny and cunning method of spectacularly ceasing the planet’s random perambulations; giving it a stable orbit and new lease on life…

All in a days work, naturally, although it did take a few months to sort out: still what’s time to a couple of brilliant Spatio-Temporal agents?

Happily, this mind-boggling forty-year old social and sexual satire is packed with astounding action, imaginative imagery and fantastic creatures to provide zest to a plot that has since become rather overused – sure proof of the quality of this delightful, so-often imitated original yarn – but as always the space-opera is fun-filled, witty, visually breathtaking and stunningly ingenious.  Drenched in wickedly wide-eyed wonderment, science fiction sagas have never been better than this.

Between 1981-1985 Dargaud-Canada and Dargaud-USA published a quartet of these albums in English (with a limited British imprint from Hodder-Dargaud in the UK) under the umbrella title Valerian: Spatiotemporal Agent and this tale, then called World Without Stars, was the second release, translated then by L. Mitchell.

Although this modern Cinebook release boasts improved print and colour values and a far better and more fluid translation, interested completists might also want to track down the 20th century releases for the added text features ‘Valerian: Graphic Renaissance’ by acclaimed SF author William Rotsler, the appreciation ‘In Science Fiction’s Net’ by French genre writer/illustrator Jean-Pierre Andrevon and the extensive biographies and work check-lists of creators Pierre Christin & Claude Méziéres…

© Dargaud Paris, 1972 Christin, Méziéres & Tran-Lệ. All rights reserved. English translation © 2012 Cinebook Ltd.

Valerian and Laureline book 2: The Empire of a Thousand Planets


By J.-C. Méziéres & P. Christin, with colours by E. Tranlé and translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-087-0

Valérian is arguably the most influential comics science fiction series ever drawn – and yes, I am including both Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon in that expansive and undoubtedly contentious statement.

Although to a large extent those venerable strips defined the medium itself, anybody who has seen a Star Wars movie has seen some of Jean-Claude Méziéres & Pierre Christin’s brilliant imaginings which the filmic phenomenon has shamelessly plundered for decades: everything from the look of the Millennium Falcon to Leia’s Slave Girl outfit -as this second volume powerfully proves in a stunning comparisons feature following after the magnificent adventure contained herein…

Simply put, more carbon-based lifeforms have experienced and marvelled at the uniquely innovative, grungy, lived-in tech realism and light-hearted swashbuckling rollercoaster romps of Méziéres & Christin than any other cartoon spacer ever imagined possible.

The groundbreaking series followed a Franco-Belgian mini-boom in fantasy fiction triggered by Jean-Claude Forest’s 1962 creation Barbarella. Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent launched in the November 9th, 1967 edition of Pilote (#420) and was an instant hit. In combination with Greg & Eddy Paape’s Luc Orient and Philippe Druillet’s Lone Sloane, Valérian’s hot public reception led to the creation of dedicated adult graphic sci fi magazine Métal Hurlant in 1977.

Valérian and Laureline (as the series eventually became) is light-hearted, wildly imaginative time-travelling, space-warping fantasy (a bit like Dr. Who, but not really at all…), drenched in wry, satirical, humanist action and political commentary, starring, in the beginning, an affable, capable, unimaginative and by-the-book cop tasked with protecting the official universal chronology and counteracting paradoxes caused by casual time-travellers.

When Valérian travelled to 11th century France in the initial tale ‘Les Mauvais Rêves (‘Bad Dreams’) he was rescued from doom by a fiery, capable young woman named Laureline whom he brought back to the 28th century super-citadel and administrative wonderland of Galaxity, capital of the Terran Empire. The indomitable lass trained as a Spatio-Temporal operative and began accompanying him on his missions.

Every subsequent Valérian adventure until the 13th was first serialised weekly in Pilote until the conclusion of ‘The Rage of Hypsis’ after which the mind-boggling sagas were only published as all-new complete graphic novels, until the whole spectacular saga resolved and ended in 2010.

The Empire of a Thousand Planets originally ran in Pilote #520-541from October 23rd 1969 to March 19th 1970 and saw the veteran and rookie despatched to the fabled planet Syrte the Magnificent, capital of vast system-wide civilisation and a world in inexplicable and rapid technological and social decline.

The mission is one of threat-assessment: staying in their base time-period (October 2720) the pair are tasked with examining the first galactic civilisation ever discovered that has never experienced any human contact or contamination, but as usual, events don’t go according to plan…

Despite easily blending into a culture with a thousand sentient species, Valerian and Laureline soon find themselves plunged into intrigue and dire danger when the acquisitive girl buys an old watch in the market.

Nobody on Syrte knows what it is since all the creatures of this civilisation have an innate, infallible time-sense, but the gaudy bauble soon attracts the attention of one of the Enlightened – a sinister cult of masked mystics who have the ear of the Emperor and a stranglehold on all technologies….

The Enlightened are responsible for the stagnation within this once-vital interplanetary colossus and they quickly move to eradicate the Spatio-temporal agents. Narrowly escaping doom, the pair reluctantly experience the staggering natural wonders and perils of the wilds beyond the capital city before dutifully returning to retrieve their docked spaceship.

Soon however our dauntless duo are distracted and embroiled in a deadly rebellion fomented by the Commercial Traders Guild. Infiltrating the awesome palace of the puppet-Emperor and exploring the mysterious outer planets Valerian and Laureline discover a long-fomenting plot to destroy Earth – a world supposedly unknown to anyone in this Millennial Empire…

All-out war looms and the Enlightened’s incredible connection to post-Atomic disaster Earth is astonishingly revealed just as inter-stellar conflict erupts between rebels and Imperial forces, with our heroes forced to fully abandon their neutrality and take up arms to save two civilisations a universe apart yet inextricably linked…

Comfortingly, yet unjustly familiar, this spectacular space-opera is fun-filled, action-packed, visually breathtaking and mind-bogglingly ingenious.  Drenched in wide-eyed fantasy wonderment, science fiction adventures have never been better than this.

© Dargaud Paris, 1971 Christin, Méziéres & Tran-Lệ. All rights reserved. English translation © 2011 Cinebook Ltd.

Valerian and Laureline book 1: The City of Shifting Waters


By J.-C. Méziéres & P. Christin, with colours by E. Tranlé and translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-038-2

Valérian is possibly the most influential science fiction series ever drawn – and yes, I am including both Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon in that expansive and undoubtedly contentious statement. Although to a large extent those venerable newspaper strips formed the medium itself, anybody who has seen a Star Wars movie has seen some of Jean-Claude Méziéres & Pierre Christin’s brilliant imaginings which the filmic phenomenon has shamelessly plundered for decades: everything from the look of the Millennium Falcon to Leia’s Slave Girl outfit…

Simply put, more carbon-based lifeforms have experienced and marvelled at the uniquely innovative, grungy, lived-in tech realism and light-hearted swashbuckling rollercoasting of Méziéres & Christin than any other cartoon spacer ever imagined possible.

Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent launched in the November 9th, 1967 edition of Pilote (#420, running until February 15th 1968) and was an instant hit. The graphic novel under discussion here ‘The City of Shifting Waters’ is actually the second chronological yarn.

The groundbreaking series followed a Franco-Belgian mini-boom in science fiction triggered by Jean-Claude Forest’s 1962 creation Barbarella.

Other notable successes of the era include Greg & Eddy Paape’s Luc Orient and Philippe Druillet’s Lone Sloane and, which all with Valérian’s hot public reception led to the creation of dedicated fantasy masterpiece Métal Hurlant in 1977.

Valérian and Laureline (as the series eventually became) is a light-hearted, wildly imaginative time-travel adventure-romp (a bit like Dr. Who, but not really at all…), drenched in wry, satirical, humanist and political commentary, starring (at first) an affable, capable, unimaginative and by-the-book cop tasked with protecting the universal time-lines and counteracting paradoxes caused by casual time-travellers.

When Valérian travelled to 11th century France in the first tale ‘Les Mauvais Rêves (‘Bad Dreams’) he was rescued from a tricky situation by a fiery, capable young woman named Laureline and he brought her back with him to the 28th super-citadel and administrative wonderland of Galaxity, capital of the Terran Empire. The indomitable girl trained as a Spatio-Temporal operative and by the time of this book was accompanying him on his missions throughout time and space.

Every subsequent Valérian adventure until the 13th was first serialised weekly in Pilote until the conclusion of ‘The Rage of Hypsis’ (January 1st – September 1st 1985) after which the mind-bending sagas were published as all new complete graphic novels, until the magnificent opus concluded in 2010.

(One clarifying note: in the canon “Hypsis” is counted as the twelfth tale, due to the collected albums being numbered from ‘The City of Shifting Waters’ – the second story but the first to be released in collected book form. When ‘Bad Dreams’ was finally released in a collected edition in 1983 it was given the number #0.)

The City of Shifting Waters was originally published in two tranches; ‘La Cité des Eaux Mouvantes’ (#455 25th July to 468, 24th October 1968) and ‘Terre en Flammes’ (‘Earth in Flames’, #492-505, 10th April to 10th July 1969), and opens here with the odd couple dispatched to 1986 – when civilisation on earth was destroyed due to ecological negligence and political chicanery – to recapture Xombul, a madman determined to undermine Galaxity and establish himself as Dictator of the Universe.

To attain his goal the renegade has travelled to New York after a nuclear accident has melted the ice caps and flooded the metropolis (and everywhere else), seeking hidden scientific secrets that would allow him to conquer the devastated planet and prevent the Terran Empire from ever forming…

Plunged back into an apocalyptic nightmare where Broadway and Wall Street are under water, jungle vines connect the deserted skyscrapers, Tsunamis are an hourly hazard and bold looters are snatching up the last golden treasures of a lost civilisation, the S-T agents find unique allies to preserve the proper past, survive even greater catastrophes such as the volcanic eruption of Yellowstone Park and frustrate the plans of the most ambitious mass killer in all of history…

Visually spectacular, mind-bogglingly ingenious and steeped in delightful in-jokes (the utterly-mad-yet-brilliant boffin who helps them is a hilarious dead ringer for Jerry Lewis in the 1963 film “The Nutty Professor”) this is still a timelessly perfect Science Fiction masterpiece every fan of the genre – in whatever medium – would be crazy to miss…
© Dargaud Paris, 1976 Christin, Méziéres & Tran-Lệ. All rights reserved. English translation © 2010 Cinebook Ltd.