Rating: 4/5 – Monster Slaying Fun in the Heart of Japan.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.
When I heard Wayward promoted as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a new generation” I knew I’d give it a shot. It’s not that I’m part of the new generation, nor do I think anyone was pining away for such a thing, but I was a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the day and throwing out something like that immediately piqued my interest. I’m sure that was the intent of promoting Wayward this way, but it also runs the risk of setting itself up to fill some pretty big shoes. Nevertheless, I tried to go into the book with no preconceived notions about content, only that with a writer like Jim Zub at the helm it should be a fun ride.
Wayward tells the story of young Rori Lane, a girl of Irish and Japanese descent that moves from Ireland to Ikebukuro, Japan to live with her mother after her parents’ divorce. Most of this inaugural issue finds the protagonist weaving her way through this new city as she explores her surroundings while the reader learns about Rori through the narration. It has a nice flow that establishes the character and setting before diving into monsters and mayhem. I found some of the dialogue a bit stiff, particularly between Rori and her mother, but I suppose one could chalk that up to teen angst and the divorce. There are hints of something special in Rori, as she effortlessly makes her way from the plane to the city, but this something doesn’t truly manifest itself until she ends up in the middle of a fight between some monsters and a bubbly and energetic stranger named Ayane. With no real explanation given yet, I would describe these powers as being able to recognize patterns and connections in any given situation or surrounding. She also manifests the physical prowess to follow through with whatever crazy pattern she sees. This allows her to escape from this first confrontation and sets up the many questions that will ultimately be addressed as this series unfolds.
The art by Steve Cummings has a subtle anime look to it, which fits quite nicely in a tale that takes place in Japan. It leaves out some of the more exaggerated features of anime, which I think is good because that could have turned off some readers who don’t appreciate the style. The red hair on Rori may be a bit stereotypical of her Irish half, but she has rockin’ hair and some wild clothes! Ayane, also with the crazy hair (bright blue for her) and funky outfit, is equally as interesting. The coloring by John Rauch was impeccable, and captures what the back-up article in this issue calls the “shiny neon veneer of modern Japan.” I especially love how he used color to make Rori stand out from the large crowds at the beginning of the book and the dull gray night at the end of the book. In both instances, it punctuated Rori’s solitary journey in this strange new world.
Do I believe that Wayward is the next Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Not really, but probably because it’s only like Buffy in the most superficial of ways. It has a female lead, there are monsters, and said female lead kicks monster butt. In reality, the story is unique enough to stand on its own merits and this debut issue did a solid job of setting up the narrative and introducing the players. In the end, I suspect this book will be as much about the lead’s personal journey of self-discovery as it will be about monster slaying.
Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
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