cover image Paris 2119

Paris 2119

Zep and Dominique Bertail, trans. from the French by Mike Kennedy. Magnetic, $21.99 (88p) ISBN 978-1-94236-762-8

Stunning artwork props up a conventional science fiction plot in this lushly drawn European import from Zep (A Strange and Beautiful Sound) and Bertail (the Infinity 8 series). In a stylishly art-directed future, teleportation and virtual reality have left the sidewalks of Paris practically empty, which is a shame considering how great it looks: skylines glitter in the rain, geometric drones float through the air, stray armadillos wander the Metro, and the architecture is an eye-popping clash of retro-futuristic aesthetics. Tristan, a brooding freelance writer with a James Dean pout, avoids using the Transcore teleportation system and wanders the streets alone, then goes home to his wife to exchange extremely French thoughts like: “The very concept of happiness is dead, since everything is accessible virtually.” Then he stumbles upon a shocking secret about Transcore and becomes the target of a shadowy conspiracy. The Blade Runner–esque noir plot is competently executed but feels overfamiliar, as does the climactic revelation about Transcore, which is unlikely to surprise genre readers. But Bertail excels at visual worldbuilding, creating a Moebius-inspired urban wonderland in delicate inks and layered watercolors. It’s also sexy and sexually frank in the tradition of classic European Heavy Metal comics. While the story doesn’t break any new ground, the art is drop-dead gorgeous; it’s a volume to leaf through with plot an afterthought. (Oct.)