Last week saw the return of Rori and the gang in Wayward #4, another fast-paced, action heavy issue. While I enjoyed this one, it wasn’t as successful at the blending of characterization and action that I loved about the previous issue. However, Jim Zub and Steve Cummings still deliver an overall solid issue.
The issue opens on Rori in school, fresh from her battles with the supernatural. We get to see how she’s coping with her new powers through her interactions at school, at one point daydreaming through the end of class and realizing she’s sitting in an empty room with an angry teacher.We also see Rori emerge as the leader of her group of supernatural fighters, leading them underground to engage in a large scale battle with a group of Yokai. It’s a fun scenario that helps define these character’s roles in the group. All the while, the background conspiracy surrounding Rori’s mom continues to grow.
The writing in this issue is generally solid. The beginning stumbled a little bit, especially with Rori’s voice, but after the action starts everything starts to click. In the beginning, Rori doesn’t feel like the character we’ve been getting to know over the last few issues. While she is going through a unique ordeal, the effects on her personality seem overdone. When she meets with her group everything tightens up considerably. We see each of their unique fighting styles and Zub uses this to give us a glimpse at who these characters are. Unfortunately, the newest addition to the group, Nikaido, doesn’t benefit from this. He’s still a mystery while the other characters are all falling into place.
At this point, I’m not sure what else to say about Cummings’ art. It’s beautiful and probably one of the greatest parts of the book. The pages are laid out in interesting but understandable ways and there’s a great sense of action in the panels. I really enjoy examining the creature designs in particular. Though they’re based on Japanese Folklore, they still manage to be distinct to Wayward. New colorist Tamra Bonvillain does an awesome job of imbuing Cummings’ panels with vibrant life.
The supplemental essay by Zack Davisson is particularly interesting this month. I would actually advise that you read it first as it informs the events in the issue. It details the Tokyo Underground, a subterranean city filled with arcades and restaurants. It’s fascinating. The Davisson essays are quickly becoming one of my most anticipated parts of these issues.
Wayward continues to be one of my favorite series Image is putting out. Its an awesome blend of western comics and Japanese manga that has a plenty to offer for fans of either medium. Check this one out.