"Wayward #21" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Jim Zub
Illustrated by Steven Cummings
Colored by Tamra Bonvillain
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 28th, 2017
The new gods of Japan are scattered after an epic battle with the Yokai. Now they're trying to find one another amidst the chaos. Nikaido is in the hospital and Segawa and Inaba are coming to his aid, but they may be too late, as his powers are growing and changing to the extent where they're practically out of control.
What's striking about Wayward is how it gets right to the heart of the characters. Sure, it's exciting to read about how Segawa manipulates technology or Nikaido controls emotions, but the creative team takes it a step further and makes them come across as real people. They're vulnerable yet flawed. It's this melodrama that has made the X-Men such a success for so long.
|Click images to enlarge|
Nikaido is at the heart of this issue and he's in a very troubling position. His ability feeds on emotions of all kinds and now he's in a hospital that is full of them. This is illustrated well from letterer Marshall Dillon, as the word balloons become overpowering. They ramp up with each page turn until we get a shot of Nikaido holding on for dear life in a bed as all these emotions flood over him. As someone that is still getting used to these powers, that sudden torrent must be overwhelming.
Wayward never ceases to surprise me. There's a great sequence towards the end of the book. I won't go into too much detail to avoid spoiling it. Writer Jim Zub and artist Steven Cummings set up this series of panels that imply something drastic is going to happen. We're talking life and death stuff here. I thought for sure that it was going to go one way and then it zigged instead of zagged. I love that I can't predict the story.
|Click image to enlarge|
Cummings' work strikes a balance between hip, supernatural adventuring and unsettling horror. The former comes through in the hospital scenes as Nikaido builds to critical mass, while the latter is largely seen with Nurarihyon, the Yokai leading the charge against these new gods. He performs this demonic possession of a bureaucrat that is rather disturbing. The man looks unnatural, like he's wearing someone else's skin and it's clearly not fitting right. I just imagine his brain turning to mush as these entity messes with him.
This issue builds to an incredible final page spread that will have you clamoring for the next issue. Cummings delivers pure terror in this shot that will make your skin crawl. The more I look at it, the more I cringe. It's so good.
I'm so glad that Wayward is back. This new arc picks up right where the last one left off and it hasn't missed a beat. This is a gripping character-driven series containing action, horror, and good old-fashioned teen drama.