The first two chapters of a new sf trilogy by spectacular European graphic novelist Bilal show him exquisitely loosening his realism by diffusing line, color, and atmosphere in the manner of such filmmakers as Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) and Terry Gilliam (Brazil, Baron Munchausen). Skies are full of streaks--some dangerous, like the bloody contrails of the big, predatory flies; some just evil-looking vapors. Occasionally there are fish in the air, which perhaps only Nike notices. He's the man who remembers everything since his birth, one day before Amir's and 10 before Leyla's, in a Sarajevo under fire. He is the younger two's protector. They haven't all met in the 30 years since, but they may meet now to head off the beast, whatever it may be, that the machinations of the disembodied leader (his head's still around, most of it) of the Obscurantis Order may release. Complicating all developments are the many artificial and natural duplicates of all the principals in this visually clotted and gelid gem of a graphic novel. Ray Olson
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