Through the Walls vol 1 cover detail

Through the Walls v1: “The Bottom of Things”

Through the Walls vol 1 cover via Humanoids

“Through the Walls” (from Humanoids) is a series of unconnected short stories that have one thing in common: One character per story phases through objects.  It’s “What if Kitty Pryde was just a normal person?”

It’s an engrossing slice of life fiction book.  It feels very modern, with people you can imagine in every day life, from the street jerks harassing the young woman walking down the street, to the suitors who won’t take no for an answer.

Writer Jean-Luc Cornette often withholds the identity of the person with the power from the reader for the first part of the story.  In one case, he doesn’t even show it until the last page.  That keeps you guessing about which way the story will go, and whether the power wielder will misuse it or use it for safety’s sake.  In the two stories about romance, for example, a different side has the power in each.

Even after the possesor-of-the-power reveals themself, it’s interesting to see how they’ll use it.  Will they go too far with it?  Will they use it for defensive purposes?  Will they get all stalker-y?

One thing’s for sure — none are going to use it to dress up in tight clothes and fight crime in the city at night under a codename.

Cornette grounds the story in the real, mostly current, world.  Like a lot of classic short stories, it’s based on reality but with only one thing tweaked.  Past that, everything else must stay “normal.”  That’s what makes for a good story here.

And for my entertainment, this book lands well.  The stories are relatively quick to read, with something to pull you through every page to see what happens next.  There’s no time for tangents, so the narrative must continue moving forward.

The book is classified as a “comedy” in Izneo’s system. While it does have some lighter moments (particularly in the first story), I’m not sure I’d call it that. “Slice of life” feels better.  Maybe even “romance” in a warped way.  It’s more a light drama, I think.

 

How’s It Look?

Stephane Oiry draws the city

I like the art throughout the book from Stephane Oiry.  The style has a retro design of sorts, like something out of the 50s or 60s, complete with the blocky colors.  But it feels modern.  The textures to the colors help with that.  Oiry supplies those, as well, and matches the two beautifully.  This book is another good example of how strong a book can look with a single person doing it all.  He knows how much detail he needs to draw, and how much texture he needs to add in later to complement that.

The overall aesthetic even feels a bit like so many animated series would today, with characters that are more “designed” than “animated.”

I like the way he draws the backgrounds, too. He drops details out surrounding the foreground, yet still makes them look busier and complicated than they really are.  It’s a nice artistic sleight of hand.

I love the cityscape I included above there. It’s so simple, but it tells you everything you need.  It also has a nice composition with the bridge bending in towards the city, and the lights breaking up all the vertical lines the darken the night sky.

I’m going to break it down into the four stories:

“Slide Show”

Nobody wants to watch your vacation pictures as a slide show

This is the one that felt most relatable and most slice-of-life-ish.  A married couple is readying themselves to go have dinner with some friends.  The husband is not looking forward to it, because it always means sitting through a painful slide show of summer vacation pics.

I don’t think anyone would disagree with him.  I guess this story is set in the past a bit, too, because I haven’t seen one of those slide projector shows, myself, in close to 30 years.  Do people still set up a screen in their living room and have the projector with the rack of slides on it to show off their vacations?  Don’t we just have Instagram now?  Are we over Flickr yet?

In any case, the real fun part about this story is that the husband is the one with the power to walk through things, and he’s not afraid to use it in front of his wife.  He parades it around like a magic trick.  But it’s just part of their everyday life.  He hides it from the rest of the world, but flaunts it behind closed doors.

That makes sense.

It also makes for a good first story.  It helps to set the boundaries for what this power is and how it’s used in the world.  It’s a strong introduction.

 

 

“The Player”

Through the Walls second story title card for "The Player"

Then, things get a little weird.  Two friends, a man and a woman, go out for dinner while their spouses are away on business.  He’s trying to woo her. She’s having none of it. He’s persistent and a little sleazy. She’s not budging.

It’s awkward to read and you immediately root for the woman in the face of this boarish pig of a guy. This is as close this book comes to a Woman In Danger type of story.

This is the story of how far this tension will go and how it will end.  Hint: It involves one of them using their powers.

 

“Gratin Dauphinois”

Through the Walls Meet Cute in a grocery store

Finally, here’s a man who finds himself attracted to a woman at work and starts bumping into her at the food store.  Repeatedly. Then he gets closer and closer to her.

She’s very shy, and you almost want to root for her to open up enough to let him in, but at the same time you’re worried that he’s only a step away from going too far, trying too hard, and being slightly creepy.

The end to this particular story, relying on the powers and a callback to an earlier part of the story, is not a storybook ending.  It seems that way on the surface, but there’s a darker undertone to it.  It’s well put together, though, and the most inviting of the stories, as both characters have a strong mystery about them.  I think it’s also the one people might have the strongest reaction to.

 

“Dead End”

Two guys bothering a woman walking down the street

Young woman gets stalked on the streets by two punks.  They’re absolute jerks.  She’s calm, confident, and not budging.  They’re ruder by the page, the kind of freak you hope never catcalls you on the streets or targets you on Twitter.

This is the shortest story in the book at only six pages.  It’s mostly an exploration of the two guys and what total idiots they are.  The ending might not be exactly what you were expecting, but that’s a good thing. It’s clever and kind of funny.

If there’s one thing all these stories have in common, it’s that the men are never the best people in the stories.  They’re all crass, crude, creepy, or cantankerous.

Recommended?

Yes, this is a well-told series of short stories that doesn’t require you to set aside an hour to read in advance. Though, to be honest, once I started reading this book, I didn’t put it down until I finished it. It pulls you through that well.

I like the idea of a single creative team anthology, too, telling stories that have something in common.  I’d like to see more creators give this style of book a try.

The art is interesting, the stories are solid, and I had a good time, even when some of the characters were a bit creepy. C’est la vie!

Even better: There’s a sequel!

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #71.)

Buy It Now

Buy this book on Izneo Buy this book on Comixology Buy this book on Amazon

 

Izneo Preview

 

1 Comment

  • JC LEBOURDAIS October 2, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    Hmmmm gratin dauphinois. Now I’m hungry.

    Reply

What do YOU think?

%d bloggers like this: