After seeing Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and reading the art book based on the film I just had to take a look at this Titan Books work that’s focused on the original comic series. This book serves as an overview encyclopedic look at the people, planets, creatures, weapons, monsters, and more from the universe. If you’ve seen the movie or read the comic it’s needless to say the varied and imaginative nature of this science fiction world is awesome and worthy of a treasury like this.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Valerian: The Illustrated Treasury gives a comprehensive overview of the Valerian and Laureline comic-book universe, featuring information on key locations (including Central Point), transport, galactic anomalies and a timeline of the major events in the series. This richly illustrated book also introduces many of the alien races and characters – friendly and hostile – and there is a special section on the ever-popular Shingouz.
Why does this matter?
Running at 90 pages this is a short, but jam packed book written and drawn by the series creators Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres. You’re getting an illustrated treasury of information from the horse’s mouth here and while it’s not based on the film it is based on the groundbreaking comic.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Reminsceint of a serious encylopedic book.
The organization of this book is quite nice with conventional comic book layouts incorporated in the opening, closing, and certain sections as if Valerian and Laureline are narrators of the book. They’re taking the reader through the varied cultures, creatures and what have you to give the reader an overview sense of this world. That’s a nice touch which may break the fourth wall, but given the mind bending adventures these characters have gone on that’s not much of a stretch.
This book is made up of four chapters, first talking about Central (It’s called Alpha in the film) and delving deep into the areas of that multi-cultural society and then into the varied timelines of Earth (there are multiple). This chapter showcases wonderful art from Mezieres with grandiose full page spreads of Central and vehicles, or focused panels of specific elements being discussed.
The second chapter focuses on life forms or the creatures that inhabit the world and it’s one of the more fascinating chapters as it details how these creatures function. There are encyclopedic drawings that capture the weirdness of the animals as well as cross section drawings showing what they look like on the inside. This chapter reads like the most scientific in the book and is quite thorough. There are also four pages focusing in on the Shingouz–the bat/bird creatures featured in the movie–who also get a fun four-page comic to showcase their resourcefulness.
The third chapter focuses on the characters that have been featured in the series which include superheroes, the Goumon (the infinity pooping creature in the film) and other major players. Having not read the comic I was a bit lost as to who these characters are, but the chapter certainly made me want to invest the time to learn and read the comic!
The final chapter, or “Mysteries of Space-Time” offered a look at the demise of the universe and other oddities that stand out. It’s a five-page chapter (the shortest!) but it does well to capture the weirdness of this series.
Some great illustrations in this book.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s hard to argue that this is an overview and not much more because dang is it short. It’s not the fastest read–some pages are quite robust with text as they detail creatures–but it’s also not the slowest. I found it ended too soon for my tastes. Also, having not read the comic, a lot of what is in this book felt as if it were written for die-hard readers. That said, this book also made me want to learn more and possibly pick up the comics at some point in the future.
Is It Good?
A good overview that highlights some of the most fantastical elements of Valerian; a series that’s robust and captivating, for the most part this is a book captures that magic well.