We’re three issues in, and Wayward seems just about to wrap its ‘getting the gang’ together portion, which is great because despite the numerous scene changes, it doesn’t feel like very much happens here other than Rori’s Monster Mash gang getting a potential fourth member. Things start out this issue with Rori gazing out her window, her self-inflicted wounds from last issue in the page’s center. From there we follow Rori to school where she meets Shirai, the boy from her school who eats evil spirits to sustain himself. Deciding that the best course of action would be to track down Ayanne, the felinesque woman from the first issue, Rori puts her powers at work with a group of cats who lead her to an abandoned area of Tokyo. There the two find a spirit as its begun to leech on someone’s life force while they sleep. Fortunately, Ayanne shows up to lend them a hand, at one point biting into the skeleton spirit’s skull in one of the comic’s few moments of humor.
Elsewhere, a man dressed in a boating hat and red bowtie, among other things, convenes with a group of fox-spirits about Rori’s arrival, and how she might interrupt their plans, calling her a Rogue Weaver. This combined with the final page reveal about Rori’s mom give me hope that the comic won’t devolve into a monster of the week structure similar to early Buffy and Smallville.
One of the strongest parts of this comic is Rori’s role as the unlikely leader of these magic-wielding teens (including a telepath that joins their rank this issue). Not only does she view herself as an outsider due to her Irish heritage, but Rori also appears to struggle with depression that makes her view herself in the worst possible light. Zub and Cummings do a fantastic juxtaposing Rori’s confident spoken dialogue with captions conveying her inner thoughts. Her reluctance to take on the role that the others would gladly give to her will definitely prove for interesting material over the next few issues.
If it sounds as if I didn’t enjoy this issue as much as previous entries, I think it’s because I didn’t enjoy the overall somber tone of the comic. The decision to withhold information about Rori’s powers or the spirits lurking around Tokyo could work if the tone of the comic wasn’t so bleak, and disengaging. Part of the problem is a lack of levity during much of the issue. Other than a joke about the fox spirits’ disdain for modern technology, and Ayanne’s difficulty paying attention, every other bit of dialogue feels pretty forgettable. I think that as the dynamic among the Monster Mashers builds this won’t be the case much longer, but Zub has to work some magic to get us interested in these characters and their relationships pronto.
Cummings’ work this issue continues to succeed in conveying a wide range of emotion for these characters. However, I found the fight scene in this issue too reminiscent of generic 90’s anime in its use of an uninteresting and vacuous enemy who lacked any personality. If the fox spirits’ brief appearance in this issue is any indication though, I think things will get a lot more enjoyable for readers at the Monster Mashers’ expense next issue.
Writer: Jim Zub Artist: Steve Cummings Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 10/29/14 Format: Print/Digital