Valerian and Laureline v21 The Time Opener cover detail by Mezieres

Valerian and Laureline v21: “The Time Opener”

Writer: Pierre Christin
Artist: Jean-Claude Mezieres
Colorist: E. Tranle and Jean-Claude Mezieres
Lettering: Design Amorandi
Translator: Jerome Saincaintin
Published by: Cinebook/Europe Comics
Number of Pages: 59
Original Publication: 2010

40+ years and 20+ volumes later, The End.

The Big Finish

I was rather rough on the previous volume of the series.  Christin went back to the well to bring back too many characters, combining them in odd ways, often checking in with them and then leaving them hanging there with nothing to do. The plot never progressed in a straight line.  There was nothing, as a reader, to cling onto.

That’s why it’s a surprise to me that I loved this final volume of the series as much as I did, considering it spends even more time introducing characters from the series’ past.

In fact, there’s a note at the bottom of the first page that says,

“This volume is the conclusion to Valerian & Laureline’s saga.  It brings back characters and refers to events from just about every book from the series.  It is highly recommended that you read those first.”

That’s no joke.

 

Plot Mechanics

The Wolochs wage war over memorable planets of Valerian's past

The Wolochs wage war over memorable planets of Valerian’s pastI have to be honest: I don’t completely follow the plot of this book. I think it’s basically Babylon 5, where agents of chaos and shadows are using destructive tactics to save the universe, while Valerian, Laureline, et. al. are trying to save everyone’s lives.

There’s some high minded talk of pure souls and some mechanics of war involved, but I think Pierre Christin does a masterful job in bringing this book to a satisfying conclusion, filled with reminders of the entire series along the way.  It’s a victory lap, including a few updates on stories long thought ended.  (Remember the challenge Valerian won which earned him the honor of replacing the planet’s population?  “Heroes of the Equinox“? Yeah, those kids have grown up a bit…)

The trick is just that there’s a clearly defined enemy. Our heroes have a plan, even if we don’t always understand what it is or will be.  The peril is at an all time high, with the entire universe at stake. Those other planets have felt the strain, so they don’t need to be talked into helping.  It’s all for one, and one for all. It’s about executing a plan and knowing they’re all doing the right thing.

Valerian's friends come in all shapes and sizes

Friends come in all shapes and sizes….

In that context, it’s great to check back in with all the worlds from earlier volumes.  Christin does a good job in dropping a quick hint to jog your memory for that original story before getting on with the plot.  You don’t need to remember all the details of those original stories, either, to get what’s going on.

Caliphette and Albert return to Valerian and Laureline

Yes, even Albert and the Caliphette return…

This book feels like a celebration of the “Valerian and Laureline” series, and the cameos from all the other worlds must be a stretch at times, but it’s still fun to see them one last time.

 

The End

I don’t know this for certain, but I bet a lot of people hated the series’ ending.  It’s quite definitive. (I’m not spoiling it.)

I liked it. It’s a bit out of left field, but it is preceded first by the realization that they’re different people now then when this adventure began.  Their original goals and desires might not be the same.  And so, through a contrivance of plot mechanics and crazy cosmic devices, the end happens.

I’m not emotionally invested in it, possibly due to the fact I’ve only been reading Valerian for a year, and not 40.  It is an ending, just as valid as anything else they might have come up with.

I respect that Christin and Mezieres made a decision to end their series, and then stuck with it.  Since this book, there’s been one short story follow-up book (which I’ll be sure to review soon enough) and a pair of original graphic novels set sorta in the earlier continuity of the series by different creative teams. (Including “Shingouzlooz, Inc.“)

Valerian Shingouzlouz Inc cover detail by Matthieu Lauffray

Honestly, I think other such one-off albums would be a lot of fun to read, particularly with strong creators picking good open spots in the timeline.  There’s so much more that could be done with Point Central, alone….

 

These Guys.  One last time.

The Shingouz are always there

The Shingouz are always there…

 

Recommended?

Valerian and Laureline v21 The Time Opener cover by Mezieres

Yes, if you’re a long term reader of the book. Obviously, it would be silly to start at the beginning, but this is an ending you’ll have wanted to have read all of the previous books for first.  They’re not kidding with that warning at the bottom of story page 1.  This book brings everyone back, and ties the whole saga together.

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #111.)

 

Buy It Now

Cinebook scheduled this book for a March 2018 print run. You can pre-order here:

Buy this book on Amazon

It is available as a digital download across all platforms at these links:

Buy this book on Amazon Click here to buy digital BD comics albums through Izneo.com  Buy this book on Comixology

Izneo.com Preview

 

2 Comments

  • JC LEBOURDAIS December 27, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    You’re absolutely right, the emotional involvement is going to be vastly different if like myself you started reading the series as a teenager.
    Then again I’m a lapsed reader so we’ll see how it feels when I get to it.
    I can imagine it’s a bit like when Billy Joel plays Uptown Girl; for a millenial it must feel weird to see this fat old guy delivering that kind of material.

    Reply
    • Augie December 27, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      As a lifelong Billy Joel fan — and serious fan going back to the mid-90s, as his career was ironically wrapping up — yes, there have been several times I’ve seen him perform in videos and on TV and whatnot, and just been sad. And you don’t realize how bad it is until you see one of the classic 80s concerts when he was at his height and things were so energetic and real. A Billy Joel concert today is just Billy Joel Karaoke with a stadium filled with fans singing along and a 20 piece band filling in all the gaps, including multiple background singers to pick up the slack. sigh

      Reply

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