Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
For a while now, I haven’t had the time to pick up a new and potentially great Image comic. And believe me, there’s been a whole lot of good ones that have passed me by, scribbled down as an afterthought or doom to be forgotten. But three months ago, I decided to check out the Image blog to see what new comics were on the horizon. This was routine before life became busier and I had too many comics to read. While there were many contenders calling to me, I only allowed myself to pick one. The winner? Wayward.
Writer: Jim Zub
Illustrator: Steve Cummings
Colorists: John Rauch and Jim Zub
Wayward is described by Image as a “supernatural spectacle that combines the camaraderie and emotion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the action and mystery of Hellboy.” If that doesn’t catch your attention, I don’t know what will! Though what really called to me was the story taking place in modern day Japan and being rooted in Japanese mythology, combined with stunning visuals. Growing up watching a lot of anime during my teenage years, Wayward is a nostalgic callback to those carefree days.
Wayward #1 begins with the introduction of Rori Lane, a half Irish, half Japanese teenager eager to leave her life in Ireland behind and embark on a completely new one in Japan. Writer Jim Zub gives us an idea of who Rori is as a character by focusing on her decision to live in Japan, her family, her cultural lifestyle, and priorities. He also provides readers a glimpse into her untapped abilities that isn’t even fully aware of yet. So far, she seems to work like a human GPS and is able to deduce her course of action like in the Sherlock Holmes (2009) movie.
While mesmerizingly exploring Tokyo, she has a run in with some mythical creatures and a spunky girl who exhibits much valor and power. Instead of caving into fear, Rori steps up to the plate and shows them what she’s really capable of. Thus begins her life into the supernatural world of monsters, wonderment, and mysteries, which is far from ending any time soon.
This first issue is fun and engaging all the way through. Not much happens that you wouldn’t have expected from reading the synopsis, but it’s a good start to an enthralling adventure. There is a quality to Rori that makes her immediately likeable and relatable. I think all of us at some point feel lost and directionless, which is funny because Rori is apparently great with direction. Therefore Wayward isn’t just a supernatural story, but a coming of age one too. She’s a spirited, witty teenager and Zub’s dialogue for her is on point. She’s a compilation of a teenager that many (myself included) have strived to be: trendy, down-to-earth, cool, and unique. Better yet, she has powers and who wouldn’t want that?
If you’re unfamiliar with Japanese mythology and terminology, don’t worry. Zub has got your back by fluidly weaving in information on a need-to-know basis. Whether it’s through dialogue or art, you’ll understand every concept along the way. As a bonus at the end of every Wayward issue, there will be a special essay on mythology and culture to broaden your understanding.
Aesthetically, Wayward is simply beautiful. Artist Steve Cummings perfectly captures the essence of teenaged Rori. He provides her personality with many layers such as her stubbornness, her excited first impressions of Japan, and her outright audacity to face her attackers. Any close up of Rory is breathtaking, as her expressions say so much even when she’s saying very little.
Though Cummings’ pencils would be nothing without the colors provided by John Rauch and Jim Zub. I love the rustic, yet urban metropolis feel the colors bring out in the first few pages of the comic. The colors here are lighter and take on orange and red hues. In the scenes where Rori begins to discover her powers, there is a stark transition to darker hues of blue, which really gives the story that supernatural atmosphere. The colors make you feel like you’re walking between two worlds.
Wayward #1 is off to a good start and is sure to fulfill all your supernatural and fantasy needs. Zub’s take on Japanese mythology is unique and you’re missing out if you don’t at least give it a try. By the way, if you’re a Joss Whedon or an anime/manga fan looking for something new, but afraid to try something completely different, Wayward is definitely a good compromise. Go on, get your copy today.
4.0 out of 5.0
Author: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Laura is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently resides in Southern California. She drinks too much milk tea, talks too much about Green Lantern, and would marry Barry Allen if he were real.