Review: Wayward #4

Shit happens in this issue. Shit involving Japanese demons and a mysterious mom that I didn’t care about at all. Somewhere during this issue, I realized that Rori Lane’s story has lost my interest thanks to the lack of anything resembling an emotional arc for her. While I found Steve Cummings’ art really compelling, his characters (both people and mythical) and clothing designs blow me away each time, not even the late Jack Kirby could compel me to care about any of the characters in this comic. Wayward-#4-11.26.14Things start up with another instance of Rori in class bored, staring longingly out the window, narrating about her new supernatural life. It’s a boring opener that reveals nothing new about Rori, and seems reminiscent of early Buffy episodes in the least complimentary way possible. Once things gets going, the issue never manages to escape the doldrums, the most compelling instance involves one of the leads getting snacked on by a demon thingy. Rori and her new crew made up of cat brawler Ayane, spirit eater and muscle ______, and telekinetic (who cares?) meet up to try, and determine their connection to the supernatural ongoings in Toyko.

How they go about tracking down a potential lead converts Rori’s once-compelling pattern-tracking abilities into a deus ex machina as they kick in as soon as the story requires that they do (however, I do have to admit that her appearance during these pages leads to some great tweaks in her features, becoming more animal-like with a few subtle changes). Once they make it to their location, the team is ambushed by kappa and other assorted demons that never feel like much of a threat to any of the characters despite the aforementioned head munching.

The main problem with Wayward right now is that its creators seem to believe that the best way to make these issues compelling is to continue threading readers along with bits of mystery surrounding Rori and her comrades as well as her mother’s connections to the spiritual realm, which would work if the characters were more than mere plot devices. Beyond their fighting abilities and one overriding personality characterstic (sad, energetic, angry, lonely),  there’s not much I can say to describe any of these characters, and I finished this issue uninterested in the new mystery set up in the last few pages.

Exploring Japanese mythology in a contemporary setting is a refreshing concept, but simply relying on that to intrigue an audience doesn’t bode well for my continued interest in Wayward. Hopefully Jim Zub can get back to Rori’s personal story. Otherwise I think I’m taking a one-way ticket away from Tokyo.

Score: 2/5

Writer: Jim Zub Artist: Steve Cummings Publisher: Image Comics Price: 3.50 Release Date: 11.26.14 Format: Print/Digital