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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


"[The ship is] two=and-a-half million years old, like me"-- Kani in THREE SUNS OF VINA ("Vinea" in the original Belgian publication).

The above quote displays a concern with the exigencies of time, a concern rarely seen in science fiction comics. Indeed, the bulk of space-faring science fiction stories tend to ignore the aspect of time in space travel, so that franchises as distinct as DUNE and STAR TREK often seem to take place in an "eternal present," made possible by the blessing of light-speed.

As THREE SUNS is my first exposure to the world of Belgian artist Roger Leloup and his best known creation Yoko Tsuno, I can't say if Leloup's attention to the temporal aspect of SF is typical of the entire series. But it's pronounced enough here to sustain a strong cosmological myth in itself.

Though the Yoko franchise is said to be aimed at juveniles, Leloup shows as much regard for scientific detail as any work aimed at mature readers. Only the protagonists-- Yoko, a Japanese girl living in Belgium, and her pals Vic and Paul-- are technically juvenile in age, though they generally show an adult's level of good sense and probity. (Paul, being the comic relief of the threesome, is allowed to be rather more impulsive and childish.) THREE SUNS, the sixth album released, also picks up with the trio re-encountering aliens called "Vinans" once more. The story does not dwell on why the Vinans originally came to Earth, except to assert that they were escaping a solar catastrophe that required them to voyage through space for a couple of millions years, in hibernation. Now, their leader Kani (also, like Yoko, a daredevil young female) informs Yoko that they plan to journey back to Vina, to see if anyone survived the catastrophe. I didn't precisely follow why the trip back wasn't going to take another two million years. However, since this time out it;s only going to take a few months to leave and return to Earth, the three teens agree to join the expedition.

I'll pass over a lot of the well-reasoned SF-tech to get to the main story, the return to Kani's home. The planet Vina has two natural suns, one of which has died. The other sun has somehow been restored to normality, though some of the gravity-changes seem to have altered Vina into a Mercury-like sphere: always showing just one face to the sun, while the other remains in darkness. There's a "third sun" in the form of an orbital solar generator, but it's currently non-functional.

Yoko's two buddies barely get anything to do, as Yoko and Kani descend to Vina to investigate.
The young women encounter that well worn but still viable trope; the decayed computer that has become a god to a tribal people. The modern Vinans barely remember their highly technological ancestors, but they direct Yoko and Kani to a tower guarded by robots and cruisers, the dwelling place of the long unseen "Supreme Leader."

Not surprisingly, the girls manage to dispel the tyranny of a super-computer that's been dominating an entire planet for two million years. They do get some help from one of the many robots, for this robot still possessed the downloaded memories of one of the early Vinan scientists-- and he/it has a special reason for helping Vina, since the original owner of the memories was one Sadar, Vina's father. But in case the tearful reunion with a robot wasn't enough for Yoko's readers, the quest continues to the dark side of the planet, where Yoko and Vina find another survivor who's been in hibernation for two million years-- Vina's mother Synda, who when revived appears to be the same age as her daughter. And to top things off, Yoko's group also fires up the artificial sun, thus fulfilling the title of the album.

If anything about THREE SUNS' plot smacks of the juvenile, it's the fact that sex plays no role in the story, aside from its role in siring all of the participants. Yet Leloup's uses of time for dual purposes-- both to lend verisimilitude and to provide the "sense of wonder" of seeing a young woman and her mother share the same somatic age-- transcend the usual "gothca" aesthetic of the time-paradox.

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