Yesterday, on the week’s Yuri Network News report, I mentioned a new comic by Jim Zub, Steve Cummings and John Rauch called Wayward. Today, thanks to Jim Zub’s generosity, I am able to tell you all about Issue 1.
Without preamble, we meet Rori Lane, the half-Irish, half-Japanese protagonist on her way to Japan to move in with her mother, after trying to live with her father in Ireland; something that wasn’t working out, she assures us. Upon arrival, Rori immediately has a strange thing happen – when she wishes to know where a thing is, the roads mark themselves for her. It is obvious to us that Rori’s feelings of Japan being “home” to her is not entirely just wishful thinking.
Rori reunites with her mother and again, the next morning, strange things happen to her. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s worth noting that this series includes creatures from both ancient Japanese mythology and modern Japanese comic mythology.
Let me get the few negatives out of the way first. For us, an audience steeped in Japanese manga culture, there is ever so slightly a “zOMG, Japan is so alien!” a feel to the first issue. The author’s note contains a comment about how Japan embraces it’s strangeness…guess they’ve never been to London. Even lines about how many people there are ring strangely off to me. If you’ve ever been in any city, anywhere in the world, I can’t see Tokyo seeming that much more crowded. (OTOH, Rori has been living in Ireland, and I will give the creators the benefit of the doubt and imagine she’s a suburban girl.) So, maybe, if you’re not all wide-eyed and misty about exotic Japan, this might rub you the wrong way. I found it merely something to note, nothing that ruined the experience for me. IF, however, you know a person who loves the idea of Japan, but hasn’t read 14 million stories about school festivals and confessions on the school roof, this could be a great title to suggest.
That minor thing out of the way, let me talk about the positives. The first, major and most positive thing about Wayward is Rori. She’s a teen girl, written and drawn by a bunch of guys and there is nothing “trying too hard” about her at all. She’s written the way we always say we want – like a character, not “like a girl.” So, despite the fact that there are a lot of stylistic shorthands in the storytelling, Rori doesn’t come off as a girl written by a guy who is thinking, “Gee, what do girls like?” And jet lag. Yes. It is just like that.
The characters and action is well-drawn and appealing. Who doesn’t want to fight Japanese mythological creatures and have mysterious powers and a magical sidekick? We all do, you know we all do. ^_^
As soon as I wrap up here, I’m calling my LCS and pre-ordering Wayward, because I want to know what happens. And that, above all things, is the sign of a good comic.
Wayward #1 is a good comic.
Art – 8
Story – 9
Character – 8
Service – 0
Yuri – 0 as of yet
Overall – 8
I was almost immediately super in love with Wayward, because – plane to the train to the subway and Rori steps out of the station into Ikebukuro, my own home away from home. ^_^ (psst, writers, Friendly Limousine bus service or the Narita Express go direct.)
It’ll make a nice change of pace from romance manga. As a creator-owned work, is a good way to support comics creators directly. (And, that’s two terrific female-lead comics from Image, along with Rocket Girl. Go Image!) It’s interesting to note that between My Little Pony, Lumberjanes, Rocket Girl and Wayward, I am now reading more American comics again than I have since the 1980s. And none of them are DC or Marvel.