Wayward #1 Review: Do you LOVE Japan?

by Alexander Jones
27th August, 2014
2 minutes


Wayward #1 is not at all what most fans are likely going to expect out of a comic book series. My fascination with Manga crashed and burned pretty hard early on in the 2000's. The form and structure of both Anime and Manga is so far too steeped behind so many traditions that the medium is required to fight against, which barely leaves enough room to craft a great story. The same can be said about American comics, especially superhero comics. However, now that Image has hit it big, there really is no distinctive form for the average comic bok. The plain fact here is that art and comics have now combined to make the medium so much more fun over the past couple of years, the barriers are finally starting to break down, which is why it is so refreshing to see Wayward #1. The series blends Irish and Japanese heritage with main character Rori Lane. More importantly, the series is so grounded in lush atmosphere that the story is a joy to read. After a hard divorce between the two of her parents, Rori heads back to Japan to live with her mom. Both her parents are nearly dirt poor, which makes the grounded ways that Rori sees the world even more relatable.

Since this story is a little more traditional than Image fans may be used to, they might be a little put off by the mystical elements of the story. Anybody that has enjoyed Japanese video games or any bit of culture will instantly relate to the kind of story being told here, but where it starts to differentiate from other stories is how the tale takes time to really acclimate Rori to her surroundings. She has a different viewpoint from almost anybody else living in this version of Japan, and as a female heroine, it is extremely important to understand her full viewpoint instead of getting awkward bits and pieces and shoving a supernatural threat down our throats almost immediately. There is a lovely essay in the back that explains Japan’s relationship with monsters and mythical forces that stems deep within Japan’s own history.


Cumming’s art is absolutely stellar. The penciller does a great job nailing Rori’s distinctive Irish look and then hitting the busy city of Tokyo with a certain amount of grace. The art is absolutely believable, and lovingly stems from everything that the city of Tokyo stands for. His facial expressions and interpretations of the different characters in the story make them come alive. More importantly, the buildings and cityscapes in the comic look so laboriously authentic and researched. It seems as if Cummings knows exactly what he is drawing and attempting to forge something as purely authentic as possible.

In short, one can almost read this story as a love letter to those who have been put off from Manga and the like. This is a tale that is wonderful and eloquent, but still takes place within that ancient place of tradition, magic, and wonder--Japan. The story from Zub and Cummings made me love Japan again. Now it’s your turn to be entranced!


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