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Michel Vaillant tourne en essais privés en France, sur le circuit des usines Vaillante.
Au Vietnam, l’écurie Leader apporte ses connaissances en soutien logistique à une course Hanoï-Saïgon. Steve est victime, de la part d’indépendantistes vietnamiens, d’un attentat qui le blesse gravement. Et, comme sa position de « Leader » est enviée; il se doute bien qu’on en veuille sérieusement à sa peau.
Michel Vaillant is a French comics series created in 1957 by French cartoonist Jean Graton and published originally by Le Lombard. The feature first appeared in Tintin magazine, where Jean Graton had already published a number of short stories about real-life sporting heroes. The series appeared in Tintin between 1957 and 1976, in France as well as in Belgium. On February 7, 1957, Jean Graton created the character Michel Vaillant, with five short stories published in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Tintin, with publication beginning June 12, 1957.
Jean Graton later left the writing to his son Philippe, gradually leaving the artwork to the Studio Graton, which he established. Since Graton stopped drawing the series himself, the graphic style has evolved, with Philippe Graton continuing with the writing and three artists providing the artwork. Vaillante is a family-run French business which, in the beginning, was a transporting company. They also create their own trucks and cars and so decide to enter Formula One racing competition. In 1939, Henri Vaillant, a young driver, creates this new team. Michel, Henri’s son, is the main driver, his usual team-mate being the American, Steve Warson. The team is first managed by Henri Vaillant, then by Michel’s older brother Jean-Pierre.
Henri has remained the chairman of the Vaillante firm, but was replaced by Jean-Pierre when he retired. As the Vaillante firm grows, Vaillante’s drivers, among them Michel, accumulate victories, but their success is either disrupted by rivals, by internal problems in the Vaillante team or by the « Leader », the greatest of Vaillante’s enemies. Most of the adventures deal with motor racing life, but they also deal with the Vaillante team drivers’ private lives, with concerns in the Vaillante firm and with various outside problems. The comic is notable for depicting real-life motor racing background, featuring many non-fictional drivers, teams and personalities. Graton’s graphic style also aims at being realistic, as the illustrations are very technically accurate.
Notably, Graton is recognized for the meticulous details he provides on cars illustrations. Michel Vaillant’s name is very similar to that of the birth name of automotive pioneer Karl Benz, which was Karl Friedrich Michael Vaillant. Realism is also expressed in the fictional background. Vaillant’s factories and property are prominenly featured in the series. The Vaillante firm is run as a real company, it has financial problems, must launch advertising campaigns and search for sponsors.