I’ve said before that this is a really busy year for Jim Zub, and that couldn’t have been truer last week when he rolled out Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate #1 from IDW Publishing. Given all the other tie-in work he does for Pathfinder and Samurai Jack, he’s also a busy man with some original work, the latest of which has really impressed me. Pairing up with Steve Cummings, Wayward has rocketed up to the list of my favourite monthlies, and it is easily one of the best new comics of the year as well. Japanese urban fantasy with spirits and ghosts and what not? Definitely aces.
Wayward #1 introduced us to the characters of Rori Lane and Ayane, and Wayward #2 introduced us to Shirai, while also moving the overall plot forward a little bit. Now, Wayward #3 introduces us to yet another character, Nikaido, even as the heroes all team-up to fight against a spirit-monster in a really cool action scene. And as I expected and wanted to see, the issue also introduced some of the villains of the series. Jim’s writing and Steve’s art top out once again and I have to say that this was an issue even better than the previous two, which just boggles the mind. The entire team of Wayward seems intent on pulling out all stops!
Given everything that has happened so far, it is pretty safe to say that Rori’s life has been turned upside down ever since she came to Japan to live with her mother, who is divorced from her father. First she met the seemingly insane Ayane and found that she had some crazy affinity for cats and then she found out that one of her schoolmates ate spirits for meals. Now she is uncertain about her life, struggling to understand her powers and what it all means for her. Fortunately, Wayward #3 has some much-needed answers that come at just the right time.
The issue introduces us to some of the villains of the series, and the reveal about them is quite exciting and fantastical, in the true spirit of urban fantasy, and Japanese urban fantasy no less. Jim doesn’t give too much away about the villains, but he provides enough to give you a solid taste for what they are all about and how they are going to get tangled up with the good guys and girls in short order, because a confrontation of such a nature is pretty much just around the corner.
Wayward #3 also introduces us to Nikaido, a poor orphan who meets up with the young heroes in a most accidental manner, but then again, it also so happens that Rori, Ayane and Shirai fight off against a spirit monster the likes of which they’ve never seen before, but which will undoubtedly become a bit more common as the series progresses. As if the rigors of school life weren’t enough, our teen heroes have to cope up with such monsters as well, with each fight providing a new point of contention.
Ayane was absent from last month’s issue, so it is pretty good to have her back for this one. She was one of the best things about the debut issue and that holds true for this one as well. Jim writes her very effortlessly and with some great comic timing as well, making her one of the best characters in this issue, especially when played off the dour and serious Shirai.
With all these different personalities clashing together, and the cliffhanger ending of the issue, I foresee some really great things in store for this title and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Steve Cummings is the artist here with John Rauch and Tamra Bonvillain on the colours, Marshall Dillon the letters, and the cover art by Steve and Ross A. Campbell. The art here is pretty damn fantastic. Steve is a master with the expressive faces and body language, and the colours too rock it all out, producing a really smooth and easy-going atmosphere despite the storm on the horizon, both metaphorical and otherwise. What really sold me in this issue was the action sequence in the second half, which is really awesome and showcases some of the best that Shirai and Ayane can do when called to it.
Top-rated issue of a top-rated series!