Valerian and Laureline v19 At the Edge of the Great Void cover detail

Valerian and Laureline v19: “At the Edge of the Great Void”

Writer: Pierre Christin
Artist: Jean-Claude Mezieres
Colorist: E. Tranle
Lettering: Design Amorandi
Translator: Jerome Saincantin
Published by: Dargaud/Cinebook
Number of Pages: 48
Original Publication: 2004


If Earth and Galaxity are in the Great Void, Valerian and Laureline need to find their way in…

The Status Quo

The Valerian and Laureline trader ship

Valerian and Laureline have a ship full of junk, and are peddling their wares along the edge of the known world, just outside The Great Void.  That’s where they hope to find their old home, as was told to them in an earlier story.

But this story gets there in a roundabout way.  Mostly, it’s about the trouble they get into while living the mobile life, drifting from world to world in hopes of selling their random stuff.  The universe does not have deep pockets, and nothing is moving.  Valerian sells the occasional thing — usually in the form of living weapons and items that get them in trouble, legally — but business is not good.

Is their schniarfer, with his bad attitude and nose stuck in a book at all times, the cause of this grief? Or is that too easy an answer to a large macroeconomic issue that’s holding them back?

Why does the local prison have such a mad-on for Valerian and keep threatening to throw him in jail?  Simple graft, or something much more?

And, ultimately, does it matter if their business succeeds?  No, not really.  It’s a front.  It’s how they’re getting access to certain places where they think they might learn more about the Earth’s fate.


But Does It Work as a Story?

As an isolated story, honestly this one isn’t that exciting.  It’s a transitional one, getting Valerian and Laureline to the point they need to be in the final two albums of the series.  It still has its charms, notably for Valerian being his usual pragmatic self, and Laureline being the more idealistic of the two.  The schniarfer is awesome, as always.  The major plot of the issue is a bit of a surprise, arriving almost as an afterthought. That has to do with the young woman on the cover who winds up working with Laureline and starts a surprising new business along the way.

Overall, the book does feel a little long.  Valerian and Laureline travel to three places to set up shop, get in trouble every time, not ever seem too concerned about it, and then win fairly easily in the end.  The most ominous parts of the story are the bits that are setting up the last two books.  But they don’t pay off in this volume.


The Breakout Schniarfer Star?

The schniarfer is the star of this book

It’s the schniarfer.  He’s the breakout start of this book. In previous volumes, he’s been an annoyed creature capable of great destruction when deployed properly.

In this volume, he becomes his own person.  He spends most of the book sitting back, reading a book, and calmly needling Valerian when the opportunity presents itself. (He reminds me a little of Alf, with his caustic responses.)

Occasionally, he has flashes of his old self, where he desperately wants to let loose with a volley of mayhem and destruction.  But so long as he’s bound, he knows he can’t.

At the end of the book, we learn something else about him that’s new and noteworthy, and sets him off into his own future.

It’s an actual character arc.  You might think it comes out of thin air, but I enjoy the ludicrousness of the whole thing.



Valerian and Laureline v19 At the Edge of the Great Void cover by Jean Claude Mezieres

As the type of person who’s read the first 18 volumes, it would be silly not to recommend this one, even if it’s mostly set-up for the final two books. This isn’t where you’d ever want to start a new reader, though.  There’s too much baggage at this point, and Christin and Mezieres are counting on that to sell this book.

Heck, I had to think hard to remember a couple of character names and planets that this story brings back.  And I read all 18 books in a span of the last 10 months. In retrospect, I almost wish I had reread the last two or three books before starting back in on this one.  Might have helped smooth a couple things over.

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #100 (!). Let us all now stop to party.)

The Print Edition

One of the things I always talk about is how dark the print edition of comics look in comparison to the digital versions.  Often, the print looks unreadable after you’ve seen the digital: too many dark scenes colored in browns that just look muddy by the time the ink is absorbed into the paper.

I’m impressed by the print edition of this book as compared to its digital version.  I give Cinebook a hard time for this, but I think they hit the balance right here.  You’re going to lose a bit of the dynamic range in print, but this book still looks good in print.  On some pages, in fact, I’d say it’s preferable.  Some of the digital pages look washed out from being too bright on the screen.

The only exception to this is the painted pages.  You’ll see much more detail and a lot more colors digitally than in print.  It still reads fine, but if you want to analyze Mezieres’ painting techniques, stick to digital.


Buy It Now

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  • Arcturus November 29, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Congratulations on 100 reviews. You did it with a month and a day (or two depending on how you count) to spare. Hope your next year will be even better and more fun and brighter and a lot of positive adjectives.

    • Augie November 30, 2017 at 10:27 am

      I’ll take all the adjectives I can get! I even like adverbs! Thanks! That last burst in the past month or so really put things over the top. I’m so happy. =)

  • JC LEBOURDAIS November 29, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Seconded. Well done, Sir. If you managed to get an old jaded collector like me interested in stuff that I hadn’t considered before, that’s quite an accomplishment indeed. As a matter or fact, I just began buying books on paper again, thanks to you. I just got the ginormous slipcased two-volume 50+ albums Spirou Intégrale from Dupuis and the almost as big Achille Talon one from Dargaud. I’m going to need a bigger bookshelf. And on a complete different note, I’m considering getting the one-volume Fourth World Omnibus for Christmas (that’s a nudge meaning I miss your comics reviews). I have a renewed faith in American stuff after watching the kickass CW extravaganza four-parter last night, which seriously lifted my spirit, down after the seriously underwhelming Justice League movie last week.

    • Augie November 30, 2017 at 10:31 am

      And thanks for taking the ride with me and chiming in with all sorts of interesting things. I’ve learned a lot from you this year, too. Sorry that I’ve impacted your wallet so much. I’m also incredibly jealous that you have such beautiful things available to you to buy. The Spirou Integrale sounds amazing.

      As for comics reviews: I tend to keep those on, where they’re nearly impossible to find. I don’t read too many of them at the moment. I do have one thing coming up in the next month or so about a relatively obscure independent comic from the 2000s, though, so you never know when I might strike again.

      I’ve heard nothing but great things about the CW extravaganza this week. Makes me wish I watched much TV anymore. I’m too busy with this site to watch all that much television anymore, to be honest. I did see Thor over the weekend in the theaters, though. I enjoyed it. I just try not to think about it too much, because there are issues with it that can drive me nuts if I do that…

  • JC LEBOURDAIS November 30, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Don’t worry about my wallet, I’ve got deep enough pockets that I can afford to splurge once in a while (of course my Mrs. might disagree with that, but who’s going to tell her hehe). Christmas is coming and I’m beginning to look at all the gorgeous Golden/Silver/Bronze age Omnibuses (Omnibi?) that DC has been putting out this past couple of years, with growingly unhealthy envy. Yikes 😀
    I did see Thor 3 as well and laughed out loud throughout. They say a good part of the dialogue was improvised on the spot, which is quite impressive; who knew Chris Hemsworth could be that funny. But of course I see where you’re coming from, this is not the Thor we grew up with, Stan Lee’s faux-Shakespearean soliloquy and everything. I kinda miss Don Blake. Nonetheless, kudos to Marvel Studios for bringing our childhood heroes into the mainstream with such success. I’d be more concerned about Warner currently sitting on a goldmine and having no clue about what to do with it on the big screen.


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