I like the French. They make great food, they make great wine, and they treat their comic books right. Even in the tiniest book store, you will find an entire wall dedicated solely to comics and graphic novels. It’s not just for geeks and it’s not all SF. One of my resolutions (every year) is to read more in French. This series is also available in English and it comes highly recommended.
Published by: Dargaud, 2011 (1995)
Hardcover: 48 pages each
Series: Aldebaran #1-5
My rating: 8,5/10
First sentence: La catastrophe avait été précédée de plusieurs signes avant-coureurs que malheureusement nous ne sûmes pas interpréter.
In the world of Aldebaran, readers live through the most fantastic sagas. Author Leo recounts humanity’s first attempts to colonise distant planets. Marc and his companions will come across strange creatures and face the dangers of unknown worlds on their travels. They will witness the destruction caused by mankind’s madness. In the first album, Marc and Kim, another teenager who has survived the annihilation of their village, set out to look for an explanation for this terrible catastrophe.
I’m a bitch when it comes to comic book art. Usually, I like a modern approach, art that doesn’t necessarily look like real life but ist just, you know, pretty. I realise “pretty” is both a silly and subjective thing to say but I didn’t find Leo’s drawings particularly pretty. However, they were perfect for the story he wanted to tell. His realistic characters stand in stark contrast to the strange flora and fauna that is Aldebaran. All characters have distinct features and aren’t perfect. I especially liked the big gap between Monsieur Pad’s front teeth – it gives him personality (not that he needs any more of that). So I didn’t love the art as in “I want to stare at it for hours” but I thought it worked incredibly well for the story – and that’s what comic book art is supposed to do right?
The story itself grabbed my attention immediately. It starts in a calm little village, Arena Blanca, with Marc’s teenage boy troubles of how to convince a girl to be his girlfriend. The people are fishermen and live a quite life. Until one day all the fish seem to have disappeared from the ocean and a sea creature is found stranded and dying on the shore. Strangers come to Arena Blanca and tell the most ludicrous stories about an immense creature that threatens the entire village. Nobody believes the strangers and – as they say – catastrophe ensues.
I don’t want to give away more than the very beginning because discovering Aldebaran volume by volume is part of the fun of these books. We follow Marc, who narrates the story, his younger and, according to him highly annoying, friend Kim, as well as a few other characters. I didn’t expect it at first but I grew to love them all. Marc and Kim have wonderful bickering matches and stumble from one problem into the next. The action works surprsingly well even though I admit my eyes were usually drawn to the next page where some big, scary creature waited to snatch our heroes away. Apart from running for their lives, they also have to face the craziness of growin up. Action and calmer moments that teach us more about the world or the characters alternate in a nice fashion. I never got bored but I never felt it was all action and no substance either. It just works.
Apart from the mystery of the sea creature, politics on Aldebaran are a mess, not all people are what they seem, and the future of humanity on Aldebaran is everything but secured. In an attempt to make the population grow, the government requires all women to have their first baby at the age of 17. There are organisations working against the dictatorship but the future doesn’t look too bright.
I have been reading these books for most of January and now that I’m finished, I am a little sad to leave the characters behind. There is a lot more to learn about Aldebaran and the ther planets humanity has attempted to colonize. Personally, I hope for a reunion with Marc, Kim, Alexa and Monsieur Pad (what a rascal, that one!) but whether they’ll feature in the next cycle or not, I am now a fan and will continue reading Leo’s fantastic comic books.
The Aldebaran cycle is available in English, Dutch, Polish as well as German. As far as I know, there is a nice bind-up that will probably come a lot cheaper than 17 Euros per French volume (thank you, Mom).
THE GOOD: Great characters, a thrilling story and highly imaginative creatures.
THE BAD: Volumes 3 and 4 weren’t as strong as the other ones.
THE VERDICT: I highly recommend this for science fiction or comic book fans. I suspect this may also appeal to people who have never read a comic book and want to try it out. There is enough substance in the story to fill a novel, and enough eye-candy to help your imagination along a bit.
RATING: 8,5/10 – An excellent series
The Worlds of Aldebaran:
- Aldebaran (5 volumes)
- Betelgeuse (5 volumes)
- Antares (4 volumes)
- Survivants (2 volumes so far)
- The Catastrophe
- The Blonde
- The Photo
- The Group
- The Creature
- Aldebaran – The Catastrophe and The Blonde (comicsanonymous.wordpress.com)