I feel really bummed about Wayward, and how I think it’s not meeting its full potential with each passing issue. To me, it’s unclear why we should care much about any of these character other than because they fill archetypal sympathetic roles. For instance, we’re supposed to feel sad for Rori because she’s having a hard time coping with her move, and she has what appears to be deep-seated depression, and alleviates her pain through cutting. However, I never feel sympathy for Rori so much as recognize the creators’ transparent desire to make me want to sympathize with her. I think a lot of this stems from the lack of specificity about Rori’s mental state, or problems with her several relationships. We know Rori feels alone only because she says that just as we only know that Rori feels overwhelmed because a bit of text informs the reader about this. To me, the root of this problem is one of trust, trust between creator and reader.
After four issues, it’s apparent that Steve Cummings knows how to fucking convey emotion via his character’s body language, facial expression and blocking. Yet, Jim Zub’s narration often explicitly iterates what’s already conveyed by the artwork. A perfect example is the previously mentioned instance where Rori feels alone during a battle. Zub masterfully illustrates six panels that depict the fight between the evil spirits and Rori’s monster masher friends, including an army of street cats. The first panel displays the spirits’ lead firing off…fire towards the team, to which Cummings’ overlays the narration ‘burning flesh.’ As a reader, this does nothing for me. I don’t gain any new perspective on the scene nor greater insight into Rori’s mental state other than that she makes pretty surface sensorial observations when she’s out of wack. The fact that I don’t lose anything plot, tone, or character-wise if I look at this page sans text should point to its lack of necessity, something I hope Cummings recognizes as this comic heads into its second arc.
This is the last I’ll be reviewing this book for some time, and it’s such a beaut due to both Zub’s art and Tamra Bonvillain’s coloring that I hope it sticks around for a while. Cummings has imagination to spare as evidence by the world and characters he’s co-created with Zub, and its evident that this world is full of future stories that should be told. Whether they have a chance to exist will probably rely on readers caring about the fates of Rori and the others. Right now, I don’t give a damn.
Writer: Jim Zub Artist: Steve Cummings Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 12/17/14 Format: Print/Digital