Wayward #2 (Comics Review)

As has become the norm these days, I’ve started learning more and more about new books via social media and creator blogs. That’s how I learned about Jim Zub’s Wayward from Image. Jim is currently one of my favourite writers in comics, and Wayward #1 was a solid series opener when it debuted last month. Japanese urban fantasy with a great female protagonist? Hell, I’m all over that. The series opener had great writing, and the art by Steve Cummings, John Rauch and Jim himself was similarly enticing, really pulling you into the whole feel of the story and the world.

Wayward #1 introduced Rori Lane, an Irish-Japanese high school girl who moves to Japan to be with her mother after her parents’ divorce and then ends up getting embroiled in some really weird and supernatural things involving cats. Jim paced the first issue like a pro, developing the characters and the world in a sedate manner and that is exactly what he does in the second issue as well, out this week. A new character is introduced, Rori’s faces up to more challenges in the new city and every step of the Steve, John and Jim present some of the best art in comics right now.

You hear the words Japan and comics and you probably think of this exotic Eastern city with a different culture, different civilization, different values, and the general fast-moving life you expect from a society as technologically advanced as the people of Japan. But the reality is, Jim grounds the story in the real world and he focuses on the back-alleys of the city. Rori’s mother doesn’t live a hi-fi life and is even struggling to make ends meet so some of the challenges that face Rori in her life are economically driven. And that’s barely scratching the surface given all that she experienced on her first day in the city of Tokyo.

The new issue sees the introduction of a new character, one of Rori’s classmates in her Tokyo school who seems to be quite the loner and is avoided by others in the school as much as she herself is. Much as with the “friend” she met last issue, this one too is different from the norm. Very, very different. And part of the fun of this issue is Jim exploring those differences and providing a really nice hook to delve deeper into this new world that Jim has created.

On his own, Shirai is quite a wonderful character, easily as complex as Rori herself, given some of the things that she does in this issue, hinting at a personal darkness that wasn’t evident in the series opener. And that intrigues me. Jim looks set to do something quite differnt with this series than anyone else is doing right now and that is part of the charm of it.

I was somewhat disappointed that Ayane didn’t make an appearance again, but I suppose that is kind of to be expected since this issue picks almost from where the previous one left off and the story only progresses up to the late afternoon/early evening of the next day.

But one thing is for sure, that Jim is taking his time to develop the characters and the setting itself, and I approve of that. There’s nothing rushed about this issue, or the developing meta-story and I like it that way since it is allowing me to get acclimated and familiar with the characters at a nice sedate pace. Too often the opposite is the norm, and that often takes the fun away from the story since the writers are so focused on their endgame. Not the case here, not by far.

Steve’s pencils, John and Jim’s colours, or Marshall Dillon’s letters, everything is as superb in this issue as it was in the previous one. The supernatural effects seeded all over the issue give off the perfect vibe, and since Steve is an expat living in Japan, he really brings out the dark corners of the city as well, going by the association. And the little details that really matter, such as the expressions and body language, or the changes in Shirai and Rori’s appearances when they exercise their powers, that completes out everything in the end.

What can I say, another mindblowing issue from a great team.

Rating: 9.5/10

More Wayward: #1.

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Posted on September 26, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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