Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jim Zub
Art, Cover: Steve Cummings
Colours: Tamra Bonvillain
Lettering: Marshall Dillon
Alternate cover: Nick Bradshaw
Alternate cover: Danica Brine
Issue #10 – and the second story arc in Wayward – had concluded with our group of main characters victorious in a hard-fought battle against the Yokai, ancient spirits. Emi Ohara, who can manipulate any manmade material; Nikaido, who controls emotions; Ayane, a shape-shifter; Shirai, who gets his power from consuming spirits; and their reluctant leader Rori Lane, an Irish-born half-Japanese girl who can alter the strings of fate: those are our heroes. After Rori broke five power nodes, thus making the Yokai mostly harmless, the five define themselves nothing less than the new gods of Japan. And those are not empty words.
We get back to Wayward after a short (but oh so long) break with this issue #11. The story jumps three months ahead – a period matching the break taken by the series in “our world”. It is November. In both worlds. We see a man walking the streets of an unnamed Japanese city, likely Tokyo. Those who have been reading Wayward, though, know that he is no man: he is the Nurarihyon, the leader of the Yokai who have been waging war against Rori and her allies. We read his (its?) thoughts: he is regretting the decline of Japanese society and the diminishing role he and his fellows are playing in it, also taking a cheap shot against Manga. He has gathered his wounded allies around him.
Now: what makes Wayward one of my favourite series around at the moment? Lots of things. Its scope: initially, Jim Zub seemed to be telling us the simple (well, “simple”) story of a girl who one day finds out she has some strange superpowers. Cool, sure, but not exactly a revolutionary concept. Now we realise that he was telling us the beginning of a story about… well, about the new gods of Japan. The art: Steve Cummings (and colourist Tamra Bonvillain, whose contribution can’t be ignored) brings to life regular people and ancient spirits, modern buildings and holy temples. And the accompanying articles, by the excellent Zack Davisson (a man who wrote a book about Yurei, translated some of the best Japanese comics ever and runs a website about Japanese folklore), help those who don’t know much about the setting of Wayward to understand what is the background behind most of the events.
If I was not clear enough – read Wayward. It is a series for all ages, with no excess of violence or blood but definitely not dumbed-down either. Go, give it a try.