"Wayward #26" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Jim Zub
Illustrated by Steven Cummings
Colored by Tamra Bonvillain
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 20th, 2018
Rori Lane has returned to Tokyo as the Yokai-influenced Japanese government are hunting her and her supernatural powered friends. They're considered terrorists, so this is some serious business. This group of kids has to figure out how to stop the might of an entire army from destroying them. That means some quick thinking and a focused attack at a major center of Yokai power. This is the calm before the storm as Wayward enters its final story arc.
First off, I want to thank the creators of Wayward for putting a brief recap of the series on the credits page. It helped get me back up to speed since the book was on a break for a bit. Additionally, the opening scene has the Japanese military outlining the information they know about Rori and her group, so that helps round everything out. You could feasibly jump into this issue with little to no prior knowledge and understand what's going on. Of course, you should totally go back and read this from the beginning because it's a pretty great comic.
|Click images to enlarge|
Anyway, the kids are figuring out their next steps and that includes what to do with Segawa, who was originally under the influence of the Yokai leader Nurarihyon. It's like if Magneto got to a mutant before Professor X and he was able to pull him into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Segawa has since seen the error of his ways, but that doesn't change the things he did while in service to the Yokai. He submits to a pretty harsh test to prove his loyalty and leads the group to their next move.
When we first see Rori and the gang, they're living in squalor. They're holed up in an abandoned building that they've converted into a makeshift living space. Their furniture is made of garbage and discarded items, basically whatever they could scrounge together on short notice. It's sad, as they're just a few teenagers and shouldn't have to live this way, especially with the government hunting them. It's like the building around them represents the hopes and dreams they might have had before their powers manifested.
Rori is a weaver, which allows her to touch and read the strings of fate. Everybody and everything has these and they tell the story of their lives. Artist Steven Cummings shows this incredibly well. At one point a character is replaced with their strings, making this rough approximation of a human being, but made entirely of these glowing orange strings, with many darting out into the world.
|Click image to enlarge|
These threads swirl around the panels themselves, creating an awesome layout that's framed in the essence of someone's life. They guide your eye through each image, giving them some additional weight as we sift through Segawa's memories. You really get the sense of how big of a deal this is and how painful it must be for him.
This is made even more intense by the narration, as letterer Marshall Dillon makes these segments pop with a bold, jagged font. It's like the words are being ripped out of Sagawa's mind only to be etched onto the page in blood.
Colorist Tamra Bonvillain gives these strings life, like they're pulsing with energy. They're connected to a living, breathing person after all. This contrasts well with the stark white background of this mind-space Rori goes to in order to read the threads. This gets more intense as Rori literally pulls and digs through the strings for answers. It's like she's tearing apart Segawa's life with her bare hands.
|Click image to enlarge|
We've known for a bit that Rori and her friends are the new gods of Japan, representing the current generation and its strengths and weaknesses. They're destined to push out the previous generation, but the Yokai don't want to leave. They're holding on to their spot and are fighting tooth and nail to keep it. We learn how they've been doing this in Wayward #26 and it's some pretty heinous stuff. If you had any doubt that they were the bad guys here, that is dismissed by the end of the issue. Writer Jim Zub frames these scenes well, dropping each piece of knowledge at just the right time.
Wayward is marching towards something big. There's going to be a major confrontation between the new and old gods of Japan. It's clear that Rori is done being pushed around as she plans to take the fight right to the Yokai. That means she may have to go through the Japanese military though. If this is how the final arc begins, I can't imagine how it's going to end.