Valerian And Laureline has been around long enough to have influenced Star Wars. Now it’s finally getting its own movie.
THANKS to the hype surrounding them, you’ve probably heard of Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Logan, and the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League. But there is one other comic book-based movie this year that you may not know about that also deserves your attention: Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets.
“Valerian and what?” you say? Well, the upcoming Luc Besson film (The Fifth Element, Leon, Lucy) is an adaptation of popular French science fiction comic series Valerian And Laureline, created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mezieres.
First published in France’s Pilote magazine in 1967, the series is, arguably, one of the most important sci-fi comic books of all time, its blend of adventure, science fiction, and space opera influencing the likes of Stars Wars, The Fifth Element, and other science fiction properties.
Valerian And Laureline is set in a future when humans have discovered how to travel through time and space almost instantaneously, and where Earth’s capital, Galaxity, has become the heart of a Terran Galactic Empire. In this future, the Spatio-Temporal Service is an agency that protects the empire from temporal paradoxes caused by rogue time travellers, and the dashing Valerian is one of its best agents.
In the first Valerian And Laureline story ever published, Bad Dreams, Valerian travelled back in time to 11th century France. There, he meets Laureline, a beautiful red-haired peasant girl who helps him on his mission and eventually follows him back to the future to train as a spatio-temporal agent and become his partner.
In a 1984 interview published in Solaris magazine, Christin said that the main idea for Valerian was a hero who is the opposite of the sort of characters dominating the market at the time – American superheroes, and fearless Franco-Belgian boy scouts like Tintin.
“I wanted to create a character that would be totally untraditional on that front. Valerian is a banal character; he doesn’t have any extraordinary means of action,” he said in the interview.
Laureline, however, was a different matter all together. While initially portrayed as more of a sidekick in Valerian’s shadow, she gradually grows into the real driving force behind the duo. “She’s the one who keeps things moving; she thinks faster than Valerian,” Christin said in the Solaris interview.
The writer also said that the character came about by chance, and that he and Mezieres “fell for her” while producing Bad Dreams. In an era when most female comic book characters were portrayed as bimbos or damsels in distress, Christin reckoned that Laureline was one of the first “interesting and rounded-out females” in comics.
“There were readers who wanted to see something else than big-breasted females, and we got many letters saying that she was nice and interesting, so we decided to keep her,” he said.
By 1971’s World Without Stars story, Laureline had stepped out of Valerian’s shadow and proved herself worthy of having her name in the title. On the other hand, Valerian grew progressively stupider and more useless as the series went on.
With the 1984 story The Ghosts Of Inverloch, the creators eventually decided that the character had hit rock bottom and needed a boost. Commenting on the subject, Christin said that Laureline had “almost taken too much room” in the series and that “Valerian had become too pitiful”.
“There are guys who break