"Wayward #6" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Jim Zub
Illustrated by Steve Cummings
2015, 32 Pages, $3.50
Comic released on March 25th, 2015
It's been three months since the epic battle that concluded the first story arc of Wayward. Lori and Shirai are missing, but the citizens of Tokyo have continued with their lives, unaware of the supernatural showdown that occurred within the city. They make up rumors to explain the disappearance of these two students. Ohara Emi provides a different perspective.
I'll admit that it was a little jarring jumping into this issue after the stellar first arc and finding a strange new face in the protagonist role. Lori was – and still is – a very interesting and real character. Ohara is a bit of a wallflower. She knew Lori, but mostly because she stood out like a sore thumb with her red hair. Ohara's life is very boring and repetitive. She takes no risks. There are no surprises. You can imagine her shock when she starts seeing Lori in strange visions that begin to pull at the delicate fabric of her life.
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This issue takes a little while to get going as we're introduced to Ohara and learn about her day-to-day life. As such, Wayward loses a bit of its momentum as it heads into the second story arc. This starts out as a weakness, but turns into a strength by the end of the book. You get wrapped up in Ohara's ho-hum existence, so when the story is suddenly pulled into the weird world that we've grown accustomed to, it's startling.
Writer Jim Zub has an incredible talent for character development. Each of the students in Wayward feels like a real person. They present problems that any normal high school kid would face, regardless of the location. Ohara is no different. While Lori brought out the loner mentality, Ohara is the quiet, by-the-book type. This is why her journey becomes so interesting so quickly. She doesn't know how to take in the supernatural side of Tokyo. She can't process it.
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This new perspective is especially intriguing when Ohara meets Ayane and Nikaido towards the end of the issue. This is a near-perfect scene as Ohara watches the other two fight a couple of dog-like monsters (I know these were named in an earlier issue, but I can't for the life of me remember what they were called.) This is a savage battle with blood flowing in buckets. Ayane is merciless as she takes on these creatures. Artist Steve Cummings really brings home that viciousness, especially in Ayane's eyes. They're filled with an innocent insanity. There's one particular panel where she almost looks like the Joker and it sums up this whole scene.
Wayward continues to present a very real interpretation of high school life, albeit one where giant dog monsters attack the students. Jim Zub puts forward characters that are instantly relatable and manages to introduce a brand new one, who, by the end of the issue, is like one of the gang. It's not cheap, like that time The Brady Bunch introduced cousin Oliver. Instead, it's very organic and comes through naturally. Now to watch as horrible things potentially happen to this poor girl.