I used to be a regular visitor at my local library, at some point for sci-fi/fantasy books mostly. However, I did venture into the comic book section from time to time and it was there that I found this one comic.

Disclaimer: I read the story in Polish, but it was definitely foreign in origin.

It told a story of a pair of human astronauts (female and male) that ventured to a seemingly less-known planet (at least to humans). It was some sort of a hub, for other civilizations at least, but humans were not too well known in that part of the universe. Our crew wandered into a flea market, where upon spotting a simple pocket watch one of the pair (the girl) bought it as a peculiar trinket to be found there. The catch was the aliens did not really need anything to follow the flow of time, so when the astronauts were called out by one of the planet's rulers from a stage to explain what the item they possessed was used for, all the commoners around just laughed.

The planet's rulers turned out to be one of Earth's first astronauts that travelled far out of our Solar System, and the very arrival of our pair of astronauts caused some huge stir up in the planet's ruling system. This lead to a larger interplanetary conflict, where I believe some huge trading guild was involved.

Essentially, radiation turned the former immortal, but burned them horribly and made despise Earth in exchange.

The thing is, the terms and scenes I remember from the comic book are so generic, it was impossible to identify it. I recall no names. Moreover, I no longer live anywhere near my hometown, so no way I return to my library just to check any leftover comics.

Hopefully you happy lot can help me identifying this tough nut.

  • This seemed to be a part of a series;
  • The ruling caste (3 of them, if I remember well) sat upon some thrones whilst entertaining the masses with their presence;
  • Our main characters walked around the planet (with its bustling streets reminiscent of the Arab world);
  • The astronauts were dressed in their (orange?) space suits on the planet at all times;
  • I read it around 15 years ago, and it already seemed aged at that time;
  • The astronaut rulers of the planet remained in hiding, in regards of their true identity.

Questionable (jogging my memory brought these memories, but I am not 100% sure of their truthfullness):

  • During the night, the main characters tried breaking in some sort of the rulers' main quarters after the initial calling out in the main square.
  • 1
    Hello and welcome to SFF! You have a very good description here, could you take a look at this guide just in case it jogs your memory for anything else to edit in. For example, when did you read this? Oh and if you haven't already make sure to take the tour!
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 18, 2018 at 13:13
  • I think I recall this story from Heavy Metal magazine, but I could be wrong. Doubt that would have been in a child-accessible part of a public library...
    – Zeiss Ikon
    May 18, 2018 at 13:24
  • @ZeissIkon Comics were stacked one upon another in the children section, because graphic novels in my country have long been considered "immature". In other words: yes, there was Thorgal mixed in between Asterix & Obelix issues.
    – buer
    May 18, 2018 at 13:32
  • Well, then it might well have been Metal Hurlant (if in French) or Heavy Metal (in English). Unfortunately, I dont' recall the story title.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    May 18, 2018 at 13:37
  • @ZeissIkon those seem too hardcore, besides the comic I recall had a slightly less realistic style
    – buer
    May 18, 2018 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


That is one of the Valerian & Laureline graphic novels by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mèziéres, L'Empire des Mille Planètes (Empire of a Thousand Planets).

Valerian & Laureline are on a mission to the planet Surt, which turns out to be ruled by ancient astronauts from the planet Earth, who are horribly disfigured by radioactivity, but have found some way to extend their lives. Laureline find and buys a pocket watch at a market, which is quite strange, since the indigenous population can naturally tell time and don't need timekeepers.

L'Empire des Mille Planètes, Front cover L'Empire des Mille Planètes, Pocket watch

  • This is it! Thank you so much, I was actually leafing through some Valerian issues but not knowing the franchise I assumed what I had was all there was.
    – buer
    May 22, 2018 at 10:15
  • Citing wiki: This is the first Valérian album to move into fully fledged space opera, as opposed to the time travel theme of the previous stories. So that's where it got me.
    – buer
    May 22, 2018 at 10:22

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