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Valerian: The New Future Trilogy Volume 1 (v. 1) Paperback – April, 2005
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A little bit Dr. Who, a little bit James Bond, and hugely influential on the modern sf scene, Valerian has been a classic in France since the 1960s. Given the impact it has made on everything from comics to movies, it is surprising that it hasn't crossed the pond a long time ago. Valerian and his partner, Laureline, are agents for the vast Galaxity organization. In the past their missions have taken them to all corners of the galaxy and through time as well. But now Galaxity is gone, and Valerian and Laureline are dependent upon their meager remaining resources and their ingenuity. This volume, containing stories from the late 1980s and early 1990s, begins a new story arc in the long-running series. The art is bold and gives a different look to pulp sf than those most American comic readers may be used to. Valerian is great to recommend to comics fans and prose sf fans willing to read graphic novels. Tina Coleman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"A wonderful balance of intellect and craft . . . a comic page that is structurally whole."
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"On the Frontiers" begins aboard an interstellar cruiseship, where a strange crime is followed by a series of terrorist acts on late '80s Earth. Former timespace agents Valerian, Laureline, and M. Albert, are now stranded in a reality without Galaxity, their timespace authority of the future. They survive by working as freelance troubleshooters for the contemporary authorities and while investigating the secret behind the current crisis, they discover that days of future past are threatening to determine the future of the Earth.
"The Living Weapons" is a return to the more humorous plots of the earlier series. Still working freelance, Valerian is making a delivery to a client on a war-torn alien planet, where Laureline discovers a trio of alien impresarios with remarkable abilities. It turns out a local warlord has a plan to end all wars, but Laureline is outraged at her unwitting part in it.
"The Circles of Power" is another lighthearted adventure that find Valerian and Laureline in an awkward spot - their astroship needs major repairs, but without the resources of Galaxity to pay for it, they're stuck in an alien garage. It turns out, however, that greasy palms aren't limited to the industrial circle of the planet, and the corrupt chief of police hire them to identify the secret authority within the mysterious innermost circle, whose communication system has bizarre side effects. Valerian and Laureline soon find themselves in the middle of overlapping plots as unexpected enemies and allies intersect in a wild scramble for power.
I prefer the earlier adventures in the series, but these are interesting. While "Frontiers" is serious, "Weapons" represents a shift back to the colorful satire of the beginning of the series, and "Circles" is full-fledged dark comedy. Valerian, the dutiful and pragmatic soldier of the future, is a kind of straight man for Laureline, a spunky and emotional girl from 11th-century France. Their adventures are less explorations of future possibilities than parodies of contemporary situations.
Valerian chronicles the adventures of Valerian and Laureline, spatio-temporal agents for the Galaxity. What does that mean? They are secret agents and troubleshooters who work throughout time and space. This volume marks a turning point, as they no longer have Galaxity resources to aid them. This volume consists of three stories: "On the Frontiers", "The Living Weapons," and "The Circles of Power. "On the Frontiers" deals with a rogue spatio-temporal agent who wishes to bring about the destruction of Earth, in order to recreate the Galaxity. "The Living Weapons" tells the tale of a pointless war between two factions, and a troup of actors caught in the middle. "The Circles of Power" relates the story of political corruption and maneuvering. Each story is well told, with doses of humor and irony, and a wonderfully light graphic style. Mezieres fills his worlds with wonderfully bizarre aliens and lush architecture and scenery. His work is somewhat stylized, but very engaging. Christin is a masterful writer who imbues the dialogue with wit and intelligence.
Valerian and Laureline are two of the greatest characters of European graphic sci-fi. Laureline is one of the prototypes of the strong capable female protagonist, while Valerian often ends up as her comic foil, although he is also very capable. He just has a tendency to overdo things.
The Valerian series has been highly influential in the world of European graphic novels and science fiction. Its influence has even reached these shores, particularly in the world of Star Wars. There are numerous similarities in the look and population of both series, although Valerian predates Star Wars. From the design of Valerian's ship, to the strange alien creatures, you will find many familiar things.
This book is well worth a look and will leave you wanting more. Unfortunately, it is the only collection of Valerian currently available in the US, in English. However, despite what the Amazon listings state, previous Valerian volumes have been available in the US, from Dargaud International. These long out-of-print volumesincluded "Ambassador of Shadows," "World without stars," "Welcome to Alflolol," and "Heroes of the Equinox." I highly recommend each and every one. And now, UK publisher Cinebook has begun publishing new translations of the entire series, including Many Waters and the Empire of a Thousand Planets (which is of great interest to any Star wars fans, seeing how it predates Empire Strikes Back).