Comic Book / Valerian

Valérian (later Valérian et Laureline) is a French-Belgian comic book series by Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin published from 1967 to 2010.

In the 28th century, Earth is the center of a powerful galactic empire, governed along technocratic lines from its capital Galaxity. The basis of Earth's power and civilization is its mastery of Time Travel, which makes both instantaneous travel and control of history possible. An elite corps of time travel agents has been created so as to maintain order throughout time and space, and Valérian is one of its members.

After a trip to the Middle Ages to capture a Mad Scientist who was attempting to alter human history, he met a local girl named Laureline and hired her as his fellow agent.

The series has long been suspected to be a key visual influence on Star Wars, which it predates by a decade. It also influenced The Fifth Element, for which Mézières was actually hired to draw some décors and machines.

A French-Japanese Animated Adaptation of the series was released in 2007 titled Time Jam: Valerian & Laureline.

A Live-Action Adaptation movie came out in 2017, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, directed by Luc Besson and starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne in the main roles.

This comic book series contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Laureline.
  • After the End: The civilization of Galaxity was born of a global catastrophe that destroyed preexisting human civilizations in 1986, when a huge nuclear explosion near the North Pole caused arctic ice shelves to melt, resulting in global warming and a rise in sea levels.
  • Allegory: In Heroes of the Equinox, the three champions from three different planets who compete against Valérian are clear allegories of Earth political movements: German/Italian fascism, Soviet communism, and Granola Girl style "spiritual" environmentalism. Through them, Mézières satirizes the sort of politics that don't allow for free thinking, and in the end Valérian wins the contest because he's the only one with a liberal, non-didactic view on how thing should be done.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Valerian, probably because Galaxity's civilization was built by survivors from Earth's old age, all mixed together. Laureline, on the other hand, was recruited by Valerian in Medieval Europe and has distinctly European features.
    • Averted in the live action movie. Valerian is unambiguously Nordic.
  • Anachronism Stew: One mission sends Valérian to pocket dimensions resembling Earth at various points in history, where the presence of anachronisms is a result of sloppy design by the alien intelligence behind it all.
  • Animated Adaptation: Time Jam: Valerian & Laureline.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The leaders of the military Valerian and Laureline belong to. In one scene, the leader and the doctor look way too much like Hitler and Mengele!!!
  • Anti-Hero: At first a regular action hero, Valérian grows into more of an anti-hero over time.
  • Art Evolution: the art style in the early instalments of the series is markedly more cartoonish.
  • Art Imitates Art: The last panel of "On the False Earths" depicts Valérian and Laureline enjoying some time off in 19th century France in a scene that recreates the painting Luncheon of the Boating Party by Auguste Renoir.
  • Artistic License Economics: The very existence of the Grumpy Converter from Bluxte necessitates this trope. The creature can multiply any small, precious object hundreds or thousands of times as long as it has enough energy reserves, yet it's treated by everybody as a handy source of currency instead of a highly illegal living forgery machine.
    • Treated as such by everybody at Point Central, where shady deals are the standard operating procedure. Laureline is supposed to keep it secret.
    • Somewhat averted as said animal is VERY rare, EXTREMELY hard to catch, needs a thorough brainwashing by a team of professionals to actually be useful, and it has rather limited reserves. The costs of acquiring, and then keeping one, offsets their economical impacts. It is the most effective alternative to carrying around enough different currencies in a mission, but in the scheme of things doesn't offset economical balances that much.
  • Author Tract: The authors never waste an opportunity to make a political point.
  • Bad Future: What Xombul almost managed to achieve.
  • Beard of Evil: Xombul.
  • Blob Monster: The Sufuss are a polymorphous alien species whose default appearance is that of shapeless blobs. Also, the alien entity simply known as The Master is a huge mass of protoplasm.
  • Can't Take Anything with You: A formal rule of time travel, and one respected more in the breach than in the observance.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Justified, since space travel is based on instantaneous teleportation, itself an offshoot technology of Time Travel.
  • Continuity Porn: The last three volumes of the series bring back numerous characters that had appeared as early as the series' debut.
  • Cool Old Guy: "Uncle" Albert.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The collective management of both Bellson&Gambler and WAAM, two large multinational firms who tried to make a deal with Space Pirates from the future.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Galaxity's civilization.
  • Dirty Harriet: In order to approach two Space Pirates, Laureline dresses up as a call girl.
  • Dying Race: The blue-skinned Masters.
  • Expendable Clone: Valérian gets lots of these in Sur les terres truqueés.
  • Fanservice: Laureline changing clothes are often opportunities to depict her in various states of undress.
  • Feathered Fiend: The Birds of the Master.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Averted with Laureline, who, despite being from the Middle Ages, flawlessly adapts to life in the 28th century.
  • Gainax Ending: "L'Ouvretemps" wraps up the series by deconstructing it.
  • Gratuitous English: Often present in the original French version, as well as non-English translations. Sometimes from characters who really have no reason to know any English.
    Schniarfeur: Cool man!
  • Haunted Castle: Played with. Inverloch Castle in Scotland is supposed to be haunted, but this is in fact because it houses a time gate.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Laureline has red hair and a personality to match.
  • Hollow World: The aptly named Country Without Stars.
  • Honest John's Dealership : the Shingouz.
  • Humanoid Aliens
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Happens first to Laureline in "The City of Moving Waters". Valérian later ends up temporarily shrunk as well as a side-effect of impregnating an alien hive mother (see below).
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: The New York base of the Time Police is inside the Statue of Liberty.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Valerian has one.
  • Loads and Loads of Races: Aliens everywhere! Though there are plenty of Rubber Forehead and Human Aliens, there's a lot of bizarre ones as well.
  • Ludd Was Right: In "Welcome to Alflolol", the low-tech, environmentally-friendly lifestyle of the natives is depicted as superior to the high-tech, industrial one of the human settlers. However, Alflololians having psychic powers which allow them among other things to space travel without much technology, the Aesop of the story wasn't about technology levels, but lifestyle choices.
  • Mad Scientist: Xombul.
  • The Monolith: The Wolochs appear as spacefaring black rectangular monoliths. They also happen to be Eldritch Abominations.
  • Neologism: The name "Laureline", a fairly popular girls' name in France, was invented for the series.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Done on purpose in "City of Moving Waters". Valérian and Laureline chance upon a discarded prototype for a time machine, and turn it into a functional one thanks to their 28th-century technological expertise. Once they're done with it, however, they restore it to its previous inoperable state in order to avoid any historical alteration.
  • Only You Can Repopulate My Race: In "Heroes of the Equinox", an alien but human-looking civilization has a single hive mother who must be impregnated anew every generation. Valérian ends up getting the job.
  • Planet of Hats: Several of them, notably the homeworld of the Shingouz. In "Heroes of the Equinox", Valérian is pitted against three champions, each from a different Planet of Hats.
  • Planet Ville: Rubanis.
  • Powers That Be: Many stories involve shadowy political or corporate powers, such as The Master in "Birds of the Master", the greedy multinational companies Bellson&Gambler and WAAM in "Metro Chatelet, Direction Cassiopeia" and "Brooklyn Station, Terminus Cosmos", the elusive rulers of Rubanis in "The Circles of Power", and last but not least, the Lords of Hypsis whose influence is subtly behind almost every storyline.
  • Precision F-Strike: After staying too long in the 1980s, Valérian begins to pick up time-appropriate swear words which he uses with increasing frequency.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: "City of Moving Waters" takes place in a flooded, post-apocalyptic New York City.
  • Send in the Clones: Expecting a high attrition rate for his mission in "On the False Earths", Valérian was cloned into dozens of short-lived copies. Most of them were expended in one go when the mission manager dressed them up as German soldiers, and sent them to battle in a live-action reenactment of a WW1 trench charge.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: In an interesting dilemma, preventing the apocalypse from taking place might jeopardize the existence of the characters' civilization.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Laureline is fond of fancy outfits.
  • Shout-Out: Prof. Schroeder in "The City of Moving Waters" looks like the title character of The Nutty Professor, a supporting character in "At the Edge of the Great Void" is named Molto Cortes, a reference to Corto Maltese, and the philosopher Chatelard in "Métro Châtelet, Direction Cassiopeia" is a reference to Gaston Bachelard.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Several of them. The most unpleasant one is definitely Zomuk, which is essentially a giant garbage dump for the rest of the galaxy.
  • Space Opera
  • Space Jews: Subverted with the Pearls from planet Mul. Their attire and habitat seem like a combination of Ancient Egyptian, Maasai, and Polynesian. But they do produce pearls (wealth) in large quantities and learn many languages and skills- very reminiscent of the overachieving Jewish stereotype.
  • Starfish Aliens
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Played straight in "Ambassador of the Shadows", in which said Shadows are an ancient race with godlike powers; played with in "The Rage of Hypsis", in which the Triune God of Christianity turns out to be three powerful aliens with a bad case of megalomania.
    • The Trinity of Hypsis seems to potentially go into Physical Gods territory considering the levels of power they possess, especially considering that they are apparently in the lower end of power scale on their home planet, where all the "gods" of the various galatic civilizations seem to reside.
    • The fact that they manage to wipe the future of planet Earth from the timeline does imply that they can back their claim of divinity at least to a point.
  • Take That!: The creators did a gentle dig at Star Wars in one illustration where Valérian and Laureline meet Luke and Leia (circa Return of the Jedi) in a space bar, with the conversation along the lines of:
    Leia: Nice meeting you here!
    Laureline: Oh, we've been around for a long time!
  • Time Police: The corps of agents Valérian and Laureline belong to.
  • Time Travel: The whole point of the series.
  • Translation Convention: It's taken for granted that every species understands every other species's language.
    • Averted: in The country without Stars, an universal translator is evoked; also, both agents use mnemotechnic helmets (first seen in The Bad Dreams),to learn languages when possible before a mission. Due to the characters' job, they soon know enough languages to go around without a need to learn new languages all the time.