The third issue of Wayward aptly blends the strengths of the previous two issues while addressing the weaker parts of the second issue. This week the plot picks up speed significantly as Rori and her newfound friends begin to come together as a team. Jim Zub and Steve Cummings are both at the top of their game this issue, delivering strong writing paired with beautiful art.
The plot of the issue is focused on Rori and Shirai and trying to understand Rori’s newfound powers. Shirai seems to have some basic knowledge of the spirit magic Rori possesses, but for the most part the two have more questions than answers. The dialogue exchanges in these first few pages do a great job of developing their relationship and delivering some genuinely funny moments. The two eventually end up tracking down Ayane, the cat-like magical fighter from the first issue, and are forced into a fight with a Kyokotsu. The phantom was attacking a young boy named Nikaido, who is revealed to be the fourth magical being in the story. A team is beginning to form, while the dark forces of the story are still only hinted at.
Last issue, the first few pages did nothing to grab me. This time, the story gets moving immediately and draws the reader in. Rori continues to be a great character and Zub has nailed down her voice completely. She’s fiery and direct when interacting with Shirai which comes across as both humorous and inspiring. She’s confident, but not afraid to admit when she’s out of her depth. The supporting cast is also far more likeable in this issue. In the last issue I felt like Shirai was just shoehorned into Rori’s life. There was no reason for them to trust each other or want to team up. This issue gives him purpose, while fleshing out their relationship properly. It showed me that Shirai could be an interesting character on his own and great foil for Rori.
Zub has managed to characterize the team without sacrificing plot progression. The wheels of the overarching plot are finally in motion and it give the book new depths. I really like that there hasn’t been a real introduction to the characters behind the antagonists in the book. Instead there are just a few tantalizing hints. There is a panel where a presumed villain talks of a ‘rogue weaver’ gathering allies, linking him to Rori and the team. Rather than being frustrating, the lack of an obvious villain or evil agenda has given the readers more time to build attachments to Rori and the team.
I’ve said it in both of my previous reviews, but Steve Cummings is doing an incredible job on the art. I could look at the opening page all day. The mixture of magical and mundane complement each other perfectly and really bring the pages to life. The creature design, while based on existing lore, are distinct and consistently creepy. The colors provided by John Rauch and Jim Zub are splendid and enhance the already beautiful artwork. Tamra Bonvillain stepped in to color the last two pages, giving them a distinct (but no less stunning) look.
The issue once again includes supplemental material from Zack Davisson. These essays and examinations of Japanese mythological figures have consistently been a highlight of Wayward. Davisson does a great job of presenting a lot of interesting information while keeping it easy to understand. The supplemental material is currently planned to be exclusive to the single issues, so if you’re interested be sure to pick these up.
Wayward #3 is back on par with the amazing first issue. The writing flows and seamlessly weaves character development with the plot, while the art continues to be some of the most gorgeous work currently on the shelves. This is not a series you should be missing out on.