Wayward is a new series from Image Comics that made its debut last week. The creator-owned series by Jim Zub and Steve Cummings has been marketed as ‘Buffy meets Japanese mythology’. That sounds pretty great to me, but I hadn’t heard anything about this book until I walked into my local comic shop. I picked it up because Image has been putting out amazing books and I trusted them to continue. I’m quite glad I did.
I want to start with the single problem I had with the book. On the first page there’s a typo. Rather than starting their descent, they start their decent. It’s a simple mistake to make but it jarred me just long enough to matter.
Moving away from that, let’s talk about the story. It opens with Rori Lane, an Irish-Japanese teenager leaving her father in Ireland to live with her mom in Tokyo. We join her as she is thrust into an unfamiliar environment with all of her belongings packed into two bags. Cummings’ art captures the essence of a crowded and bustling Tokyo. Everything is in motion around the new immigrant, while she is the only person taking her time. It makes for a nice contrast.
I found Rori to be a likable character immediately. She’s moving into a new country she’s never even visited, but she maintains a quiet optimism about her new home. She is self-assured and even though she may have left Ireland under a dark cloud she’s determined to start anew. She starts the book as a well-developed character and I’m excited to see how she grows.
The description of ‘Buffy meets Japanese Mythology’ is pretty apt. Rori is attacked by Kappas, Japanese water monsters, and discovers she has hidden abilities. I don’t want to spoil more than that, but the story here has a lot of potential. The dialogue is lively and the pacing of the issue is on point. Zub leaves just the right amount of mystery at the end of the first issue to make readers clamor for the next one.
Story is important in comics, but the art is what brings the story to life. Cummings’ artwork in the issue is gorgeous. As mentioned before, his settings evoke the feelings of entering a busy city for the first time. I think the character design is lovely. I want to give credit to the coloring by John Rauch and Jim Zub. The book is vibrant and I think this plays nicely into the tone of the first issue.
Included in the back of the issue is some supplemental material that I found really interesting. There is an essay by Zack Davisson, a scholar of Japanese folklore, detailing the rise of monster stories in Japan. It’s only two pages long but it’s packed with a lot of cool information on the history of monsters. There’s also a Yokai File that teaches readers all about the Kappas.
Wayward #1 does what any good first issue should do. It sets up the world, gives you the first hint of a story, and makes you want to learn more. I’m excited to see where issue #2 goes.