I just saw the movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017). This has been a long time coming, although I didn’t know it.
Several years ago, I was browsing one of the larger comics & fantasy stores – Forbidden Planet, New York – and stumbled across something unfamiliar. It was a 1975 edition of Valerian, agent spatio-temporel, “L’ambassadeur Des Ombres (Dargaud).” It was in French, I didn’t speak French, and it cost more than I wanted to spend. But it had a wonderful bunch of space aliens in it, and I liked the way they, and the heroine, were drawn.
It was great fun, flipping through the imaginative pages, trying to figure out what was going on. I have bought many comic books and had to dispose of many comic books, but I held onto that one. Recently, another publisher, Cinebook, started reprinting and translating Valerian, including Book Six, “Ambassador of the Shadows.” Although I have bought several of the other translations, I haven’t really wanted to buy Book Six.
So now a movie has come out, based on Valerian. It’s a little late, since little things the artists inspired, like Star Wars, have eclipsed it. Much like the way John Carter came out too late, after its descendants stole ITS thunder.
Interestingly, much of the movie takes ideas and images from Book Six, even though the title comes from Book Two and there were twenty other books. Maybe that volume being one chosen to import and the one that caught my eye weren’t entirely random.
By the way, the movie is good, if you don’t mind fashion models in outer space. It is fast-moving, with a consistent tone, heart, and rich, original imagery. Spoiler: to the movie’s credit, Valerian does NOT save the universe and NO big fortress nor spaceship blows up at the end.