Jim Zub and Steve Cummings’ Wayward from Image has been one of the best new titles I’ve read in the last year or so. The series hit the ground running back in August, and seemed to kick all sorts of ass as it progressed through to the conclusion of its first arc. And that final arc was certainly quite explosive too, in more ways than one, and it was also an unexpected one. Jim Zub took some pretty big chances with that finale, and I think it served the series well, and of course the art by Steve & Co has been up to showing off those chances in as great a light as possible.
Issues 6 & 7 of Wayward start off a new storyline with a new central character. This time we get to spend some time with Rori’s classmate Ohara Emi who develops some powers of her own and ends up hooking up with Ayane and Nikaido, who have become… freelancers of sorts. Following the end of Wayward #5 they have been taking the fight to the demons as best as they can, and Emi’s journey as part of their team really helps shine a light on the new direction that the series is taking, and that’s pretty darn great too!
I’ve talked before about how Jim and Steve love to take some really big chances with this series, and in these two issues they do that yet again. With the new character, you’d expect that the writer would carry on the long world-building and everything that happened with the previous main character Rori, but that’s not what happens here. Jim launches into the narrative straight up, helped along by the fact that we know much of the setting already. And that’s a good thing. It helps differentiate the new arc immediately from the old one, while still maintaining some connections, and I really like the fact that Emi is Rori’s classmate, and that she has had a random encounter with her, though nothing major.
And that’s what connects the two characters more than anything else. They both used to be ordinary kids in ordinary life situations, and then everything took a big turn in the opposite direction. From what I’ve seen of Emi in these two issues, I think that she is a great addition to the series and that as the series progresses further, that she is going to be a great counterpoint to Rori herself, while also proving to be a supplementary character.
But that’s not all that we see, because Ayane and Nikaido are also back, and it seems that as far as the two of them are concerned that their lives have become… rougher. For instance, I didn’t expect Ayane to be cussing as she does, and she is also much more violent now. That was a surprising departure for the character I think, making her almost of a berserker rather than a happy-go-lucky-beat-’em-down-kinda-gal. And Nikaido seems to have overcome some of his shyness and hesitancy as well, which is great since it marks a big change in his character and has him progressing to something else. Can’t fault that on any level.
Additionally, it is not as if Jim has ignored what happened with Rori and Shirai either. Their story takes a backseat while we meet Emi and she meets the other half of the original quartet but by the time that Wayward #7 comes to an end, the stories are converging together in a big way, and the emotions that lead the way to that are certainly big-time moments since you really start to feel for the group dynamic that existed previously, even more than before. That’s how it was for me.
In both issues we have Steve Cummings on the art with Tamra Bonvillain on the colours, Marshall Dillon on the letters, Zack Davisson on the back matter, and the cover art by Steve and Tamra. The art in here is fantastic as always. I mean, you don’t really need to question the art in any way because the covers boldly lead the charge in that department, but still, I found the inside art to be as awesome as it was before the series went on break following the fifth issue in December last year. The time away from the series doesn’t seem to have had any downsides for the art team, and all the supernatural stuff feels as vivid and engaging as well, which is a huge-huge plus.
Yay for Wayward being back and in such a great fashion too!