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Preview: Wayward #9

Wayward #9

Story By: Jim Zub
Art By: Steve Cummings
Art By: Tamra Bonvillain
Cover By: Tamra Bonvillain
Variant Cover By: Gurihiru
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: APR150686
Published: June 24, 2015

IMAGE’S SUPERNATURAL SENSATION CONTINUES! Tokyo is a battleground and blood will be spilled. COVER A is part four of a five-part panorama by STEVE CUMMINGS & TAMRA BONVILLAIN. Buy all five issues of this story arc to fit them together into a massive WAYWARD illustration. COVER B is a variant by acclaimed Japanese illustrators GURIHIRU.

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Review: Wayward #9

Wayward09_CoverAThe first few issues of Image Comics‘ creator-owned ongoing series Wayward made it one of my favorite comics that nobody else seemed to be reading, but lately, I’ve been wishing it would live up to the promise it showed at the start. The initial Buffy-meets-anime premise was what hooked me: an Irish teenager named Rori Lane moves to Japan to live with her Japanese mother, and in the midst of adjusting to her new life, discovers that she is a Magical Girl in a Tokyo swarming with yokai, monsters from Japanese folklore. In issue six, however, the series shifted focus to a new protagonist, Emi Ohara, and the narrative has been more fragmented and less tightly written since then. The latest issue continues to suffer from the “second-album curse” of an ongoing series trying to expand its mythology after an extraordinary first story arc.

Wayward #9 tries to cover too much ground, and as a result, it’s a frustrating midpoint in a story whose forward progression is way too slow for a monthly ongoing series. The first six pages seem to come from some other comic entirely, with a tiny “Then” caption in the upper left corner of the first page the only indication that this is a flashback. But how far back, and how does it connect to the storylines in present-day Tokyo? Writer Jim Zub‘s stilted dialogue clarifies little, and the twist at the end of this flashback section is more perplexing than intriguing.

Things pick up when the story returns to the present day, especially because Steve Cummings‘s manga-influenced art style lends itself much better to the emotional faces of modern teenagers than to wide-angle images of medieval Japanese villages. The team of superpowered teens still have one-note personalities – again, awkward dialogue is often the problem – and a critique of young women’s place in Japanese society comes across as both heavy-handed and simplistic, especially since it comes from a white male writer and artist.

Fortunately, the second half of Wayward #9 promises more excitement to come. It introduces a creepy new villain whose origin and alliances call the hero team’s plans into question. Then, Rori Lane returns to help several plotlines converge (no hints about those first six pages, though) and to use her powers toward a major change that might be necessary but might just be cruel. The final two pages, each dominated by a single image and nearly text-free, show that Cummings is more skilled at conveying narrative than Zub. They’re packed with meaning and provide a great pay-off for an episode in Wayward #8 that seemed like a side quest. Despite the slow start, this installment left me hopeful for a delightfully weird climax to this chapter of Wayward. But if you’re not already following the series, now is not the best time to jump in: you’ll be confused, not only about the story itself, but about why readers like me are sticking with it.

Story: Jim Zub Art: Steve Cummings
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Pass

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Preview: Wayward #7

Wayward #7

Story By: Jim Zub
Art By: Steve Cummings
Art By: Tamra Bonvillain
Cover By: Steve Cummings
Cover By: Tamra Bonvillain
Variant Cover By: Sie Nanahara
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: FEB150646
Published: April 29, 2015

IMAGE’S SUPERNATURAL SENSATION CONTINUES! Ayane and Nokaido rail against the growing supernatural forces rising up in Tokyo, but are they on the right side of the conflict?

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Preview: Wayward #5

Wayward #5

Story By: Jim Zub
Art By: Steve Cummings
Art By: John Rauch
Cover By: Steve Cummings
Cover By: Tamra Bonvillain
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: OCT140775
Published: December 17, 2014

IMAGE COMICS’S SUPERNATURAL SENSATION! The first story arc ends. Revelation and sacrifice.

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Preview: Wayward #4

Wayward #4

Story By: Jim Zub
Art By: Steve Cummings
Art By: John Rauch
Cover By: Steve Cummings
Cover By: Ross A. Campbell
Variant Cover By: Philip Tan
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: ICSEP140764
Published: November 26, 2014

IMAGE COMICS’S SUPERNATURAL SENSATION! A storm rages across Tokyo while secrets are uncovered below the city streets.

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Preview: Wayward #3

Wayward #3

Story By: Jim Zub
Art By: Steve Cummings
Art By: John Rauch
Cover By: Steve Cummings
Cover By: Ross A. Campbell
Variant Cover By: Jorge Molina
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: AUG140692
Published: October 29, 2014

IMAGE COMICS’ NEW SUPERNATURAL SENSATION! More students with strange abilities, more creatures emerging from the shadows…Rori can see patterns pulling it all together, but can she discover the secret beneath before it’s too late?

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Preview: Wayward #2

Wayward #2

Story By: Jim Zub
Art By: Steve Cummings
Art By: John Rauch
Cover By: Steve Cummings
Cover By: Ross A. Campbell
Variant Cover By: Riley Rossmo
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: JUL140588
Published: September 24, 2014

IMAGE COMICS’ NEW SUPERNATURAL SENSATION! Rori’s uncanny senses lead her to a classmate with a dark secret…one he’s willing to kill to keep hidden.

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Preview: Wayward #1

Wayward #1

Story By: Jim Zub
Art By: Steve Cummings
Art By: John Rauch
Cover By: Steve Cummings
Cover By: Ross A. Campbell
Variant Cover By: Alina Urusov
Variant Cover By: Jeff “Chamba” Cruz
Variant Cover By: Adam Warren
Variant Cover By: John Rauch
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: JUN140487
Published: August 27, 2014

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER FOR A NEW GENERATION! Rori Lane is trying to start a new life when she reunites with her mother in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can Rori unlock the secrets of her power before it’s too late? JIM ZUB (SKULLKICKERS, Samurai Jack), STEVE CUMMINGS (Legends of the Dark Knight, Deadshot), and JOHN RAUCH (INVINCIBLE) team up to create an all-new Image supernatural spectacle that combines the camaraderie and emotion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the action and mystery of Hellboy. Don’t miss it!

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Review: Wayward #1

Wayward01_CoverARori Lane is trying to start a new life when she reunites with her mother in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can Rori unlock the secrets of her power before it’s too late? This week debuts Wayward, the newest series from the talented writer Jim Zub who’s joined by artists Steve Cummings and John Rauch.

Going in to the supernatural spectacle I wasn’t sure what to expect. I actually stayed away from the descriptions, so I didn’t know what the series was about. I went in expecting one thing as the story progressed, and came out the other end with something completely different.

The first issue is a solid set up, firmly introducing us to Rori, and throwing us into the deep end as far as the supernatural world she’s going to be involved with. There’s definitely a Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe to it all, but some of the imagery reminds me of the video game Mirror’s Edge. The combination is intriguing…. and entertaining.

A lot of that Mirror’s Edge vibe comes courtesy of Cummings and Rauch. The visual imagery has some interesting queues, especially to see how long they keep it up for, and what it all means. The style itself is solid, though I wish the Japanese individuals looked a bit more so. There’s a slight hint, but this is more of an anime style without the large doe eyes. Otherwise, the art really is beautiful to look at with fantastic coloring.

The first issue does a great job of introducing us to Rori, and it sets up a lot of mysteries that will be explained as the series progresses. There’s a lot thrown at us, especially in the latter part of the book, and that’s not completely explained, nor does it need to be. All of it is intriguing, and seems like it could be a lot of fun to explore. Wayward #1 is a solid debut, bringing us a new female heroine to cheer for. Is it the next coming of Buffy? That we’ll have to wait and see.

Story: Jim Zub Art: Steve Cummings and John Rauch
Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy

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