“Wayward” rolls on with an action packed issue that sends both factions closer to another showdown against each other. Read on for our review but be warned, there will be some spoilers.
Written by Jim Zub
Illustrated Steve Cummings and Tamra Bonvillain
No more hiding. The new gods of Japan are on the attack and Tokyo is caught in the middle.
JIM ZUB (SKULLKICKERS, Samurai Jack) and STEVE CUMMINGS (Deadshot) continue their acclaimed supernatural spectacle.
I’ve been following “Wayward” since it’s first issue and at issue twelve, there’s starting to be some payoff to a lot of what’s been built up. Rori, Ayane, Emi Ohara, Shirai and Nikaido have become a team to be reckoned with as they slowly start to take over the supernatural side of Japan. “Wayward” started off as this fish out of water but with superpowers story and has turned into something so much more complex and fantastical than I ever could have imagined.
“Wayward” #12 finds the gang still dealing with the fallout of basically declaring war against the old guard of supernatural Japan. They call themselves the New Gods Of Japan but they aren’t really leading anything with Rori still out of commission. Out in the streets, Emi Ohara is reeling from discovering that her family no longer remembers her but bigger problems are happening. Rori is being mind controlled, Segawa is slowly being manipulated by The Nurarihyon and the Yokai are out on the streets causing more mayhem.
Needless to say, there is a lot going on in this series and this issue doesn’t fully tackle all of them but that’s not a completely bad thing. From the very first issue, there’s been this fight between the future and the past, or the young and the old. With the New Gods becoming more powerful, I’m reminded of Neil Gaiman’s book “American Gods”. Zub, Cummings and Bonvillain are touching on some similar things but with a cultural twist that makes it feel so new. What happens to the old guard when the gods begin to change for a new world? A young adult who can control technology is something someone like The Nurarihyon doesn’t know how to battle so his only tool is manipulation. The Nurarihyon and those like him are up against the fence and the only reaction they have is more violence, leaving the younger gods to fight back in a similar way. Neither side wants to back down and it mirrors a constant generational struggle that every society eventually deals with. What’s great about “Wayward” is that this is shown not only in the writing but in the artwork. Rori and her friends wear the hippest styles and have wild haircuts and hair colors while The Nurarihyon wears a suit, hat and carries a cane. Cummings and Bonvillain do a great job in illustrating the generational differences while ensuring that each character’s personality comes through.
While there is a war looming, I do worry that this is happening just a little too fast. We haven’t had much time with this group of kids interacting with each other and so it becomes tough to believe them as friends. For a story like this, I do believe this group should be much closer and have a bond that can’t be broken. I don’t think they have that just yet which is why Rori’s compromised position feels a little off at the moment. Rori being controlled would have a much bigger emotional impact if there was a closer bond between all of these characters. On top of this, with all this drama going on, our lead, Rori, has been out of the action a bit and one of my favorite things in the early going of “Wayward” was hearing Rori’s voice and getting to know her more. I love the pieces but I almost wish “Wayward” would slow down just a little because there is so much in here that works – it’s just happening too quickly.
“Wayward” boasts some of the best art in any ongoing series right now. Steve Cummings blends manga and western comic book art seamlessly and it’s always a treat to open up an issue of this series. The linework is precise and extremely clean with a tremendous amount of detail being poured into each panel. Things like street signs, arcade games and architecture is meticulously crafted so that “Wayward” feels like modern Japan. Cummings creates a gorgeous cityscape but what he does even better is make the character interact with the space. In “Wayward” #12, Ayane goes on the offensive and she uses the ground, the buildings, pipes, everything really, to her advantage. It all feels tangible and there’s a wonderful sense of movement in every single page. On top of the already mentioned designs, the characters in motion are such a joy to watch. Even the looks in each character’s eyes as all this is happening reflects a part of their personality perfectly.Continued below
Tamra Bonvillain’s colors are as always, spectacular. “Wayward” is a bright series because of what she’s able to do on colors. Neon signs pop off the pages, the clothing becomes far more realistic through the use of bright, lush colors and the magic captures the right sense of wonderment without feeling out of place in this version of Japan. Bonvillain is a colorist more should pay attention to because she’s doing some of comic’s best work right here in “Wayward”.
“Wayward” #12 has some problems but if things slow down just a little bit, it can all be fixed easily. This is still one of the best and most unique ongoings happening right now and each month, it’s worth your time. With a war looming, now is the time to catch up.
Final Verdict: 7.8 – Not the best issue of the series from a story standpoint but the art remains gorgeous.