‘Wayward #1’ Review: A Promising New Comic Series

Maya Zach ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Cover art for Wayward #1. Photo Credit: Image Comics.
Cover art for Wayward #1. Photo Credit: Image Comics.

Jim Zub and Steve Cummings’ new series Wayward is the perfect blend of the traditional American comic book and a Japanese manga series. It seems as though it is a manga written for an American audience: the writing and art style is much more typical of a comic book series, but the setting and concept fall under manga territory.

Rori Lane makes her transition from living with her father in Ireland to her new home in Japan with her mother. She isn’t even given a day to grow accustomed to the new country before she is introduced to the seedy underbelly of Japan. When three rather scary men accost her in an alley, a blue-haired girl with fangs leaps out to save her. Much to Rori’s disbelief, the men turn out to be things that resemble teenage mutant ninja turtles (known as kappa in Japanese mythology). When confronted with the monsters, Rori made quick work of finding an escape route that normal humans would not successfully get through.

Ayane, her blue-haired savior, leaps to the top of a building and exclaims, “I knew you were special!” Though Rori has no idea what she’s capable of, surely Ayane will help her discover her latent abilities. Abilities that she most likely shares with Ayane. The readers only receive a glimpse of what the girls might be capable of. Besides being a phenomenal fighter, Ayane shares many traits with felines; she is incredibly agile, has a proclivity for milk (strawberry, to be exact), and tends to be surrounded by stray cats.

The easiest way to describe Wayward is to say that it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer set in Japan. It stars a teenage girl who moves to a new town, has some sort of extreme powers, and is facing down monsters. Buffy was an excellent concept the first time around and it will still (probably) be an excellent idea the tenth time around. And in this first issue, Zub and Cummings nailed the execution. But it isn’t fair to compare the two. Not yet anyway, since there has only been a single issue of Wayward. Zub will need to tread the path carefully in the first year of the series to ensure he distances his series from the Joss Whedon fan favorite, so that Wayward is original and enjoyable.

Steve Cummings really captures the beauty of Japan with his artwork, making the readers long to visit the country themselves. Cummings draws each backdrop with as much detail and precision as he draws the foreground, and it makes all the difference in the world. But what really knocks the art out of the water is John Rauch and Jim Zub’s coloring. The main focus of each panel (namely the main characters and monsters) are lit up in intense, vibrant hues, which make them really pop out from the muted, subtly colored backgrounds.

Though most Image comics still include a letters column in the issue’s back matter, Wayward takes theirs one step further. At the end of each issue (after the letters column), there is a section known as “Welcome to Weird Japan,” where a guest writer introduces the readers to an aspect of Japanese culture and/or mythology. Not only does this expand the world of Wayward, but it teaches the reader about another culture in a genuinely interesting, enthralling way. The first issue’s guest writer is Zack Davisson with additional art by Kalman Andrasofszky.

Zub knows how to write a first issue of a new series and it shows. Wayward establishes the main characters and the premise of the series, but still leaves the reader grasping for more. And that desire to know more about the world and the characters is exactly what will keep the readers coming back.

Emertainment Monthly gives this issue a 9/10.

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