Comic Corner: Learning from the past

Cover art by Mezieres
Cover art by Mezieres

‘ValĂ©rian and Laureline: The City of Shifting Waters’ review

By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor




As the public sits with bated breath for the theatrical release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets—coming July 20—what many don’t realize is that the film is actually based off of a French graphic novel series from 1968. The ValĂ©rian and Laureline series is considered a classic among sci-fi aficionados, and with the movie looming, I decided now would be the perfect time to pick up the first volume in the series, The City of Shifting Waters.

Written by Pierre Cristin, the story was translated in 2010 by Jerome Saincantin. As an avid reader of German comics as well as Japanese and Korean manga, believe me when I tell you that a faulty translation can ruin even the best books. However, Saincantin’s work is near flawless. It correctly translates, and adapts when necessary, so that the story shines through in a way that is engaging and understandable.

That being said, the plot is highly imaginative and campy, but in the best possible way. As agents looking to protect the Terran Empire, ValĂ©rian and Laureline are sent on a mission back in time to tangle with Xombul—a power-hungry egoist from their own time, looking to change the future.

My favourite part about this book was how funny it was. Despite the fact it is a translated work, the jokes and the charm are still there.

The only pitfall that I can identify is that the art is very dated. Illustrated by Jean-Claude MĂ©ziĂšres, the art is noticeably of its time aesthetically. For me, I don’t mind this as much. I happen to like the more classic style of hand-drawn with heavy inks and bold lines, but I do know a few graphic novel/comic fans who dislike this, and who prefer the smoother stylization of a more modern approach, or the high detail of something reminiscent of the Golden Age.

In my opinion, this book is a definite must read, whether you’re into sci-fi or not. I think the appeal of the humour, coupled with the engaging story, make this a perfectly universal pick. So if you need a time-sink while you wait for the theatrical release, I would recommend getting your hands on a copy.