In its final 10 episodes, “Valerian and Laureline: Time Jam” wraps up by riffing heavily on the “Star Wars” prequels, but it stands as its own thing thanks to its trademark bevy of wild ideas – many involving time travel, as the series fully embraces its title. And as had been telegraphed in the sitcom-esque bickering flirtation (or flirtatious bickering?) heading into the closing credits of many episodes, the saga’s final statement is about Valerian’s and Laureline’s relationship … although it’s not exactly what I hoped for.
The “Time Jam: Valerian & Laureline” writers finally give us the cute romantic sequence they had been so obviously holding back from us in the 30th episode, “Get With the Times,” and darn if it isn’t almost tear-jerking. Laureline must stay on a planet and press a button after Valerian takes off in their ship; they can’t both depart.
Whether it’s because I’m more used to the show’s rhythms or because the scripts are getting better, I enjoyed episodes 11-20 more than the first 10 episodes of “Time Jam: Valerian & Laureline.” These aren’t the comics’ Valerian and Laureline, who love each other and don’t make a big deal about it. These versions of V&L are melodramatic; every time a second male is in the story, we get a love triangle because of Valerian’s itchy-trigger-finger jealousy.
As anyone who has searched the web for specific “Valerian” information knows, scholarship of this franchise is sketchy compared to, say, “Star Wars” or “Star Trek.” Two reference books have been released in English — and hopefully more will follow, including a pair of Jean-Claude Mezieres art books that are only in French for now. But here’s a look at the two books – one on the comic universe, one on the film — that are available to English readers now:
The “Valerian and Laureline” franchise follows a similar pattern to the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” empire. Both started with a comic aimed at adults (or at least young adults), were franchised into a cartoon aimed at kids, and then a movie aimed somewhere in between. In each case, those in charge rejiggered the characters, vehicles, settings, plot and purpose.
One of the most remarkable things about writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mezieres’ work on “Valerian and Laureline” from 1967-2103 is how little they farmed out the characters. It wasn’t because they weren’t interested in doing that – indeed, they had wanted Luc Besson to make a “Valerian” movie for decades before it happened – but for whatever reason, “V&L” didn’t get licensed out much. Exceptions are the 2007-08 animated series and 2017 movie, both of which (perhaps owing to their respective media) are re-inventions of the “Valerian” lore, not intended to be strictly faithful.
Looking for a “Valerian” fix after last year’s movie, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” I’m delving into the comics that started it all, by Frenchmen Pierre Christin (writer) and Jean-Claude Mezieres (pencils and inks). “The Complete Collection, Volume 5” includes “On the Frontiers” (1988), “The Living Weapons” (1990) and “The Circles of Power” (1994). These stories are collectively known as “The New Future Trilogy.”
The fall movie season arguably looks better than the summer season this year, with a nice mix of traditional fall films and a few scattered blockbusters – although a look at each film’s pedigree reveals this to still be the season of the auteur. Here are my picks for the top 10 movies to see:
Looking for a “Valerian” fix after last year’s movie, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” I’m delving into the comics that started it all, by Frenchmen Pierre Christin (writer) and Jean-Claude Mezieres (pencils and inks). “The Complete Collection, Volume 4” includes the two-part sagas “Chatelet Station, Destination Cassiopeia” (1980)/“Brooklyn Line, Terminus Cosmos” (1981) and “The Ghosts of Inverloch” (1984)/“The Wrath of Hypsis” (1985).