By Jim Zub, Steve Cummings & John Rauch
Wayward is only on its second issue, but has instantly become one of most vibrant and fascinating titles in Image’s stable. Rori, still adapting to her new life in Japan and newfound powers, faces a new supernatural force in the jungle that is her school.
This book is being hailed as a spiritual successor to Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, which can absolutely be inferred, but that seems to sell the concept short. The key influences are without a doubt Japanese anime/manga. The narrative structure, so far, follows ones established in those mediums, most notably in this issue. All this makes sense considering the setting. What is nice is that the material doesn’t feel like a total rip-off of other stories, this comic firmly differentiates itself. This is done through depicting some the deeper psychological/emotional scars Rori copes with. It is put front and center and not glossed over or romanticized…very powerful storytelling. Also, a lot of her back story, not everything of course, is presented early on, which indicates that Rori will evolve a lot over the course of this tale.
From the character designs; to the colors; to the internal aside text boxes, Wayward just fills the story with visual life. Steve Cummings, who I wasn’t familiar with until now, is easily one the best artists in comics today. His renderings of character reactions are very realistic and even his detail on the background and setting is meticulous. This grounds the story to allow for the fantastical elements to really stand out.
John Rauch and Jim Zub beautifully accentuate Cummings’ work. The color choice for supernatural forces or occurrences works perfectly for the rich texture established for Japan in the comic. Again, the Japanese influence is evident throughout.
Also, the back matter gives readers a real appreciation for and education on Japanese culture. Knowing how much research and attention to detail the creative team are doing, makes this book much more enjoyable. Context always allows for a deeper appreciation of true art.
This is such a refreshing comic! I can’t recommend it enough. Since there are only two issues out, there is no excuse not to give this story a shot.