Every few months a comic gets announced that immediately grabs my attention. One that has got a proven creative team attached and with a premise that really grabs my attention. The latest comic to do that was Wayward. Written by Jim Zub, who seems to be a comic book writing machine, and illustrated by Steve Cummings, who has worked as an artist for basically every comic company on the globe, it was impossible not to be excited for it. Of course hype and a solid premise don’t always equal a great comic book. Except this time it totally does, surprise!
Wayward begins as our protagonist, a young woman named Rori Lane, descends into Japan via plane. She speaks about the excitement and anticipation of what’s to come and it’s hard not to get swept up into it with her. It really feels like the beginning of something new. Soon after, Rori wanders the city and begins to get settled in to her new home. The second half of the story is considerably crazier but you won’t get any spoilers out of me. Lets just say things take a rather supernatural turn, which is rather obvious if you glance at the comic’s covers.
The art by Cummings is fantastic. Streets are bustling with activity and the whole city feels cluttered and alive. Characters are also brilliantly depicted. Nobody wears the same outfit and Rori’s unique style especially speaks to her personality. She stands out amongst the crowds and it adds to that feeling that she’s a stranger in a new land. Likewise the colours by John Rauch and Zub are exceptional. The city pops with a clean and vibrant charm, while at night everything slowly descends into soft darker tones gently taking the life out of the city. Yet there are still splashes of ominous red after sunset, speaking to the undercurrent of danger that lies within. Basically, every panel just feels like it’s been created with the utmost care. Nothing feels accidental.
I can’t praise the art without giving the writing the attention it deserves. Bluntly: it’s awesome. The tone of the series isn’t too serious but it knows when to sprinkle in some lighter moments. Rori is incredibly likable after just a single issue. Maybe it’s her noticeable fashion sense or perhaps it’s how she’s positioned as an energetic outcast, but there’s something about this character that just makes me care about her right out of the gate. I suppose the thing I’m dancing around is that she feels real. I don’t feel like I’m reading about a stereotype or a flat character, her narration sounds sincere and as if it’s coming from real experiences. Little moments of vulnerability also do a lot to show us that she’s a lot more complex than just being an everyday teenager with some really funky arm warmers. Seriously, have you noticed that I love her outfit? Do you think I could pull off those arm warmers? Yeah, probably not. Anyway, let’s wrap up.
Essentially what I’m saying is this comic book is just great all around. There’s not really anything worth criticising about it. It’s just really fun, I really wanted to like it and I wager you will too. As a bonus, with a loving focus on Japan this could be a great comic for manga lovers to pick up. But if you’re allergic to manga don’t let that put you off either, at it’s core it’s just a damn good read no matter what your tastes.
Unsurprisingly Image Comics have done it again. Wayward is a fantastic comic book from a talented creative team that are doing the best work of their careers. Go get it.