Way back when; it was actually My 2016; I had the opportunity to catch up with one of the Grandfathers of the UK comic scene in Mr Pat Mills. Pat is synonymous with a raft of books, none more genre defining as 2000 AD. During the chat, Pat mentioned his love of a French comic called Valerian and how the book, originally from the late 60’s had influenced many a Sci-Fi film including The Magnificent Seven in space movie Star Wars. Now, nary a year later and Valerian has hit the big screen and has a new book out.
For those not in the know, Valerian , the titular hero, is a Spatio-Temporal Agent, who follows the sometimes suspect orders of his bosses, despite his personal feelings. He is joined by a red haired female colleague Laureline who is a combination of independence born from superior intelligent with a level of sex appeal. In this self contained story, the duo have the task of capturing the head of a criminal banking organization of one; the mysterious android known only as Mr Zi-Phone. However there are a couple of competing issues the pair need to deal with including Mr Albert, a Quantuna, Sha-oo the Desecrator of Worlds and a plan to mass market Laureline clones and of course the Shingou Looz Inc company and their useless at cards board of directors. If any of this makes sense to you, then you are in the right place!
Wilfrid Lupano pens a script that is definitely not short on zany. There are concepts in here that may well give you a nose bleed – be warned time travel does raise its multi paradox making head. In addition Mr Zi-Phone is an interesting bad guy. It’s almost satirical how he uses the laws of the universe to turn a quick buck. Is he really a bad guy because he uses a system that is broken and allows such manipulation? Of all the characters in the book, I actually found Valerian to be the dullest. A straight up and down good guy, with only the slightest hint of a mercenary. Laureline is the undoubted star of the book. As mentioned, she is the brains of the pairing who is not above letting certain people’s baser desires get the better of them. The book is wordy and you will need to remain focused on lots of moving parts to appreciate the complexity of the story.
Mathieu Lauffray provides the art and the colors for book, along with a preface in which he states that he and Lupano weren’t trying to mimic the original series instead wanting to bring to life their own story. I will bow to knowledge of the existing fan base to see if this goal was achieved. For me, the art reminded me a lot of Trevor Hairsine. Both have to deal with alien landscapes as well as a detailed laden figure and facial style. The art looks great from the outset, the obvious European styling gives the various worlds and times a unique feel. The colors are pastel based but cover the entire spectrum, proving that this book has been a labour of love for Lauffray.
I am not a huge fan of humorous Sci-fi, instead preferring the more straight up book and storytelling. Still, reading this book I found myself smiling, shaking my head and have a little giggle at certain points throughout the book. This then is a huge credit to all involved if the book can entertain a “non-believer” like me. Now, if you will excuse me I need to see if eBay has any Laureline clones in stock!
For those that are interested, check out http://www.undercovercapes.com/creator-spotlight-pat-mills/ for the interview with Pat Mills and hear what he had to say about the importance of Valerian.
Writing – 4 Stars
Art & Colors – 5 Stars
Written by; Wilfrid Lupano
Art & Colors by; Mathieu Lauffrey
Published by; Europe Comics