Wayward is a book we’ve been waiting to get our hands on so no surprise that a couple of us want to review it while others just wanted to read it. That said our newest writer Andrè is joining Dustin for a dual review on the issue. Before that here’s what Wayward is about:
Rori Lane is trying to start a new life when she reunites with her mother in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can Rori unlock the secrets of her power before it's too late? JIM ZUB (SKULLKICKERS, Samurai Jack), STEVE CUMMINGS (Legends of the Dark Knight, Deadshot), and JOHN RAUCH (INVINCIBLE) team up to create an all-new Image supernatural spectacle that combines the camaraderie and emotion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the action and mystery of Hellboy. Don't miss it!
As a reader of both comics and manga I find it strange that the two worlds haven’t meshed more. There are some pretty obvious formulas that work for both styles of comics and it seems that Jim Zub has noticed this too. Wayward is perfect for the manga (or even anime) crowd, but it still manages to be something that traditional comic readers should have fun reading as well.
By far the strongest aspect of the issue is the art from Steve Cummings. His line work is very detailed and blends both worlds of comics together giving it a look somewhere between an anime and Juan Jose Ryp’s style, but with softer lines.
As much as I enjoyed Cummings artwork, John Rauch and Jim Zub on coloring brings this book to life. It’s vibrant and wonderful to look at. The coloring gives it an animated look which had me gazing at the page long after I was done reading it.
The story is straightforward and works. The world is mysterious and our character is forthcoming with details, but then also hides details for us to discover later making her a character you want to know more about. Zub’s narration is very strong and it’s a good fit for what the story is doing. The action is balanced and the mystery interesting. Overall I look forward to more and enjoyed this debut issue.
Wayward is the comic equivalent of John Travolta’s Tony Manero stepping onto the dance floor for the first time in Saturday Night Fever. Sure everyone else knows all the moves- the hip thrust, the gyrating pelvis, the hustle- but once Manero takes the floor it’s evident that most everyone else could do with a few lessons.
Hopefully that analogy explains my impression of Wayward, which is that it’s another fantastic entry in Image’s already staggering amount of knockouts. When I read the pitch of this series ‘Buffy meets Hellboy,’ I thought that there was no way it could live up to the fun of the former and the explorations into ancient mythology of the latter. This first issue shows that writer Jim Zub and artist Steve Cummings are more than capable of meeting those lofty expectations. Unlike many other teams who struggle to make their protagonist interesting in the first issue, Wayward’s Rori Lane possesses an authentic teenage voice that reminds of Brian K. Vaughn’s Runaways cast. After Rori’s mom leaves work, and we’re shown scenes of her exploring Tokyo her enthusiasm at being in one of the coolest cities in the world rings true and makes her an engaging and relatable character to the legions of Americans and Western Europeans fascinated with Japanese culture.
I also really like that Zub waste no time in showing us some of Rori’s powerset, her ability to see patterns providing a wide array of possibilities for future issues. Equally awesome is Ayane, the strawberry milk-chugging stranger that comes to Rori’s rescue. With a beautiful intro that sees Ayane descending into a Tokyo alley, we’re told everything we need to know about Ayane. She’s fierce, fun and will undoubtedly be cosplayed to death by this time next year.
Cummings does a great job in rendering Tokyo as a distinct city, making me surprised at how comics are rarely set in the Japanese metropolis. Whether it’s a small restaurant or a sidewalk, Cummings (with superb coloring from Zub and John Rauch) makes Toyko a strange sight even before any turtle demons appear on the scene. I love that Rori in front of the Toyko skyline is the image we’re left with. It’s a great way to show readers the playground that they’re hoping people return to month after month.
All the formerly mentioned elements have me excited to see what happens next issue. Image has done fantastic work over the past two years, supporting comics that possess a style and tone unlike anything else. Let’s hope that like Sex Criminals and Saga before it, Wayward garners the support to stick around for the long haul.
Writer: Jim Zub Artist: Steve Cummings Colorist: John Rauch and Jim Zub Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 8/27/14 Format: Print/Digital