The first book in the series
|Number of issues||13 (in French)
6 (in English)
Aldebaran and its sequel Betelgeuse (French: Les Mondes d'Aldébaran) is a Franco-Belgian science-fiction comic series written and illustrated by Léo and published by Dargaud in French and Cinebook in English.
The Aldebaran saga is divided into cycles, each composed of approximately five albums, and each corresponding to a different planet. Although it is possible to read the cycles separately, the first three are chronological to form a coherent whole. Each cycle (and thus planet) introduces new secondary characters, although the central heroes of the story remain constant.
2011 will see the release of a new volume, Survivors (French: Survivants), which will introduce a new set of characters.
Situation before Aldebaran
During the 21st century, following global warming, which resulted in the deviation of the Gulf Stream, an increase in pollution levels, and devastating religious wars, the conditions on Earth seriously degraded. Concurrently, huge technological advances were made, particularly the invention of the "Benevides Transfer", which allows faster-than-light space travel. As a result, new Earth-like planets, potentially colonisable, were discovered.
Millions of dollars have been invested in these colonization projects by private companies. The first to inhabit the new colonies are selected following reconnaissance missions to the newly-discovered planets, and the United Nations has put in place a charter regulating the colonization of new planets. Most notably, colonization must cease should the planet be found to harbor one, or potentially several species considered to be evolved, defined as a species which has discovered fire and can produce tools.
The Aldebaran Cycle
The first cycle opens towards the end of the 22nd century on the first planet successfully colonized by humanity, Aldebaran-4 (commonly known simply as Aldebaran), the fourth planet of the Aldebaran solar system and the only discovered to be hospitable. It is revealed that since its colonization 100 years previous, communication with Earth has been impossible, the reason for which is not explained. As a result, the colonists have had to put in place an autocratic society, making do with what is available to them on the planet. The original population of 3,000 colonists rapidly grows to around 20,000 habitants when the cycle begins.
The story begins in the year 2179 with the complete destruction of a small fishing village north of Bigland island, known as Arena Bianca, by a mysterious and voracious sea creature. The entire population is killed in the attack with the exception of three teenagers, Marc Sorensen, Kim Keller and Nellie Keller, left orphaned following the disaster. Marc and Kim decide to head for the capital of the colony, Anatolia, several thousand kilometers to the south, hoping to earn a living. The two decide to elucidate the mystery of the killer animal that devastated their village upon meeting Driss Shediac and Alexa Komarova, two friendly and experienced biologists who are actively hunted by the police. In the course of their adventures, it is revealed that the central government of Aldebaran is authoritarian and dictatorial. The two teenagers also meet the opportunistic Mister Pad, a mischievous vagabond, who offers to help them as long as he gets something from the deal as well.
Alexa and Driss eventually decide to form a secret group composed of Kim, Marc, Mister Pad, as well as several of their friends who are aware of their secret: the mantrisse, a complex, protean creature, and the same which annihilated Kim and Marc's village, does in fact, under certain forms, enter into amicable contact with humans, having them absorb life-prolonging capsules, in the hopes of establishing a symbiotic relationship. Alexa and Driss have been absorbing these capsules for some time while continuing their research into the creature, and they propose that the other members of the group begin absorbing the capsules as well. The Mantrisse Group is born.
The government eventually catches up with the group, but it is saved by the mantrisse, which simply makes the intruders vanish. Shortly afterwards, Kim and Marc see a space shuttle in the sky, which turns out to be the first contact between Earth and Aldebaran, made possible when the computers suddenly and miraculously begin to function again. The colonial government is dissolved and commerce and travel begins with Earth; Marc and Kim, now a couple, decide to leave Aldebaran and make for Earth in order to continue their studies. Driss and Alexa found the Institute for the Study of the Mantisse, funded largely with Earth-based assistance.
The Betelgeuse Cycle
Just as communications are re-established with Earth on Aldebaran, another vessel, the Konstantin Tsiolkowky, heads for a newly-discovered habitable planet, Betelgeuse-6 (commonly referred to as Betelgeuse), the sixth and only viable planet of the Betelgeuse planetary system. Although having no connection with the Aldebaran project, the same nightmarish scenario develops, and again all communication with Earth is lost, due to an unidentifiable computer virus. After losing contact, a small party (around 100 people) make for the planet's surface, but they in turn lose contact with the shuttle remaining in orbit. Meanwhile, this same shuttle progressively falls victim to the cold of space following the breakdown of the onboard radiators, and all 3,000 colonists on board, in a state of hibernation since their departure from Earth, are killed. The remaining shuttle crew, finding themselves in a hopeless situation, commit suicide.
The Betelgeuse Cycle begins six years after these events, with Kim and Marc, now adults, having spent these years living on Earth. Kim, having obtained a diploma in biology, decides to return to Aldebaran without Marc, as their relationship has come to a standstill. Alexa welcomes Kim upon her arrival and invites her to take part in a rescue mission to Betelgeuse. Alexa is further motivated by her findings, with Driss, that the mantrisse has been in regular contact with Betelgeuse, and that further information might be gleaned by undertaking a mission there. Furthermore, Driss believes it possible that the ruptures in communications are brought about by the mantisse.
Kim agrees to make the trip, feeling that it could be a decisive moment in her life, and a week later is en route to Betelgeuse, accompanied by Colonel Wong and Lieutenant Steve Hudson; the group is soon joined by Inge and Hector, miraculous survivors of the Konstantin Tsiolkowky disaster, whom they meet on board the ill-fated ship. Unfortunately, the destructive virus is transmitted to the group's vessel as well. Finding themselves isolated from Aldebaran, the group decides to undertake a mission to the planet's surface.
The group quickly learns that two opposing groups have formed on the planet. Most of the survivors have settled on the side of a cliff, in a society marked by strict rules and military discipline, thus forming the canyon group. The second, led by the ex-commander of the Konstantin Tsiolkowky, extremely remorseful after losing control of the vessel he was supposed to command, is known as the desert group. The two groups are engaged in a dispute over the native lifeforms of the planet, the iums, as to whether these animals are intelligent enough to abandon the project per the UN charter concerning colonization.
Kim, having taken over leadership of the rescue mission following the accidental death of Colonel Wong, decides to lead a team, composed of her ship's crew, as well as two representatives from each of the opposing groups, on a discovery mission through the canyon to learn more about the iums. Kim begins to feel uneasy concerning the canyon group due to its expedient methods, and tension rises within the team until, during a dispute, a member of the canyon group, George Dixon, accidentally shoots Kim in the stomach. Her body disappears into an underground river, and Hector, Steve and Inge embark upon a mission to save her, while the members of the two competing planetary factions, convinced she has not survived, return to their bases. Little do they know that the mantrisse capsules Kim has been taking have given her unusual healing abilities.
The rescue team manages to save Kim from the caves, although Steve loses his life in the effort, and settles in a calm area for a period of two months. Kim meets an extraterrestrial, Sven, who is in fact a humanoid spy originally from the same planet as the mantrisse and is stationed on Aldebaran. He becomes obsessed with Kim and decides to break the strict laws regarding his work and enter into a relationship with her. Kim and Sven become intimate, and she gleans important information regarding the mantrisse from him. Once again amongst humans, Kim reveals what Sven taught her regarding the mantrisses (while at the same time hiding the fact that there was a relationship between the two): the mantrisse did indeed create the computer virus, and is preparing to release a biological virus designed to infect humans it finds to be too aggressive. It becomes necessary to break camp, but Kim announces that the mantrisse has agreed to allow a delegation of a small number of humans to remain on the planet as long as they agree to not attempt to recommence colonization efforts. The large-scale colonization of Betelgeuse is consequently abandoned.
- La catastrophe - Feb. 1994 - ISBN 2-205-04186-X
- La blonde - June 1995 - ISBN 2-205-04365-X
- La photo - March 1996 - ISBN 2-205-04476-1
- Le groupe - May 1997 - ISBN 2-205-04569-5
- La créature - Oct. 1998 - ISBN 2-205-04761-2
- La planète - Jan 2000 - ISBN 2-205-04902-X
- Les survivants - March 2001 - ISBN 2-205-04987-9
- L'expédition - May 2002 - ISBN 2-205-05231-4
- Les cavernes - Nov. 2003 - ISBN 2-205-05475-9
- L'autre - Aug. 2005 - ISBN 2-205-05636-0
- Episode 1 - April 2007 - ISBN 978-2-205-05889-5
- Episode 2 - Feb. 2009 - ISBN 978-2-205-06185-7
- Episode 3 - Feb. 2010 - ISBN 978-2-205-06371-4
- Episode 4 - Oct. 2011 - ISBN 978-2-205-06765-1
- Episode 1 - Jan. 2011 - ISBN 978-2-205-06524-4
- The Catastrophe (includes The Blond) - June 2008 ISBN 978-1-905460-57-1
- The Group (includes The Photo) - Oct. 2008 ISBN 978-1-905460-70-0
- The Creature (includes The Betelgeuse Planet) - June 2009 ISBN 978-1-905460-93-9
- The Survivors (includes The Expedition) - Oct. 2009 ISBN 978-1-84918-004-7
- The Caves - April 2010 ISBN 978-1-84918-028-3
- The Other - June 2010 ISBN 978-1-84918-036-8