Aquablue & Aquablue: the Blue Planet


By Cailleteau & Vatine; translated by Randy & Jean-Marc Lofficier (Dark Horse)
ISBN: 978-1-87857-400-8 (TPB) and 1-87857-404-3 (TPB)

I’m tempted to file these little crackers under “unfinished business” as the slim translated French albums feature the first two instalments of a classy, stylish science fiction saga that sadly hit a reef before its English-language conclusion, despite being one of the most long-lived and impressive epics from a country that seems to specialize in successfully exporting edgy, clever comic fantasies.

In France, Thierry Cailleteau’s incisive sci fi anti-colonialism eco-thriller runs a full 14 (and counting) volumes since its debut in April 1988, with Olivier Vatine and his illustrative successors producing a wealth of stunning visual concepts and scenes which you’ve since unknowingly admired in movies such as Avatar

Sadly, as far as I’m aware only the first two volumes are available in English – and only then as physical back-issues – but surely in our cosmopolitan, politically and environmentally sensitive present a full sequence isn’t too much to hope for: especially as many Euro-publishers have their own digital imprints?

Until then, let’s wish upon a watery star and look to these blue horizons…

In Aquablue, the Starliner Silver Star is lost due to a meteor strike and in the rush to the life pods a baby is left behind. Rescued by a robot, the boy is reared in space until, eight years later, he finds a planet. This world only has 3% landmass, but is inhabited by a primitive, amiable race of humanoids, and incredibly huge marine species.

Over ten years the boy grows to manhood as Tumu-Nao: a valued member of the tribe. He is even betrothed to the chief’s daughter, Mi-Nuee, and his fellows believe him blessed by their god, a gigantic whale-like creature called Uruk-Uru. Unfortunately, Nao’s idyllic life forever alters when an Earth survey ship lands and Terran Ethnologist Maurice Dupre discovers that the young man is Wilfred Morgenstern: lost heir to Earth’s greatest financial empire, the United Energy Consortium.

However, that Consortium has already enacted a shady deal to turn the planet they call Aquablue into a vast hyper-station. This will result in the watery globe becoming a gigantic ice-ball and they certainly don’t need a naive boss who has gone native queering their big score. Nao’s own aunt puts out a hit on the rediscovered heir, but nobody realises that his connection to the “gods” of Aquablue is real and shockingly powerful…

 

The Blue Planet then finds Nao returning to Earth not so much to claim his birthright as to safeguard his adopted homeworld from human incursion. While he is away, the Consortium has resorted to the same tactics European imperialists used as they absorbed indigenous Earth cultures: destroying them with free booze and cheap baubles…

Nao’s father-in-law organizes a resistance movement, fleeing with the entire tribe to the polar regions, but on Earth Nao/Wilfred is having trouble resisting the allure of technological civilisation, until Mi-Nuee, who had stowed away on a starship, rises like a gleaming message from Uruk-Uru out of the Ocean swell.

With the help of Dupre they return in time for the final battle against the Consortium forces that have hunted the natives into the frozen wastelands…

And that was that… but it doesn’t have to be…

Original creative team Thierry Cailleteau & Olivier Vatine first teamed to produce the outlandishly comedic Adventures of Fred and Bob but really hit their peak on these superb thrillers, based tellingly on the colonial outrages of Western Civilisation: especially in their treatment of Polynesian cultures. The series continued with Cira Toto and Stéphane “Siro” Brangier replacing Vatine from the fifth book, as the epic moved beyond the original storyline into captivating areas of conservation and space opera…

Although these slender pearls are worth a look just for the superb quality of art and narrative, I’m plugging them here in the greedy hope that with European material finally part of a global comics culture, somebody will finally pick up and complete the translation of this delicious adventure series. Cross your fingers…
© 1988, 1990 Guy Delcourt Productions. English translation © 1989, 1990 Dark Horse Comics. All Rights Reserved.