By Jim Zub, Steven Cummings, Tamra Bonvillain, Brittany Peer, Marshall Dillon, & Zack Davisson
The third arc of the in-depth, yet charming comic, Wayward, reaches its conclusion with this issue. The focus of the story is on the rebellious or “wayward” youth that have discovered that they have other-worldly abilities and how the established yōkai (Japanese supernatural entities) fear that they signal the end of their reign in the land of the rising sun. The young “new gods” wage war against their oppressors, but now, in a desperate move, the yōkai have joined forces with the Japanese government to take them down…
It seems the concept of new gods overthrowing the old is a popular concept these days. Geoff Johns has incorporated that very idea in his seminal storyline in Justice League‘s “The Darkseid War” for intsance. I’m sure it’s purely coincidental and more importantly, the common theme is implemented in very different contexts. Rori Lane and her friends are being manipulated by the tsuchigumo (spider yōkai) into believing that wiping out the existing supernatural beings would be their only chance for survival. Where so many heroes/heroines in Japanese manga and anime are adolescent, but appear and act as if they’re in their 20s or 30s, it’s refreshing to see that trope turned on its head and presented in a logical and “realistic” fashion. Also, the fact that the young team’s bold and practically care-free attitude has dramatic consequences provides additional authenticity. It’s also worth noting how the primary antagonist’s, Nurarihyon, narration during this arc is extremely eloquent and poignant. It not only suits the character, but makes him very intriguing and even sympathetic; a sign of a strong adversary.
Steven Cummings and Tamra Bonvillain (starting with issue #4) still, after 15 issues, maintain their beautiful artistic collaboration . This series is one the most detailed and vibrant comics out there. Every page pops with unconventional colors blending together, which is perfect for the otherworldly material. Brittany Peer is credited as being an assisting color artist and I’m unsure of her direct contribution(s),but however they aided in the beautiful final product, then she deserves credit. Cummings had his work cut out for him as, of course, a big showdown takes place. The sequencing of the various parts of the battle is well paced and is clearly depicted, which so many comics try to show more collateral damage than actual characters fighting.
The ending of this third arc opens the world of Wayward to some fascinating possibilities! Jim Zub and the rest of the creative team have been able to build this story well and develop intricate, identifiable characters. Readers who haven’t tried or picked up this book are doing themselves a serious disservice. One doesn’t have to know a lot, if anything, about Japanese culture. One the stand-out aspects of the comic is not only that it’s easily digestible, but cultural context continues to be provided via the essays in the back matter of every issue. Written by the clearly knowledgeable Zack Davisson, the articles provide detailed information about Japan’s culture and society that pertinent information to the specific issue’s content. It almost goes without saying, but just to be safe, there really is no reason to not check out the stellar comic that is Wayward.