"Wayward #19" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Jim Zub
Illustrated by Steven Cummings
Colored by Tamra Bonvillain
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on December 28th, 2016
After a massive battle that left behind tons of destruction, the old gods and the new are regrouping. Rori is out in Ireland with her father and Ayane and aside from a brief flashback to her birth, is absent from this issue. Meanwhile, back in Japan, Inaba regains consciousness and lashes at out some EMTs and Shirai meets a terrifying death spirit that brings all sorts of foreboding.
The driving force within Wayward has been the strong character development. That continues with this issue. Although the action is light, the story is still enthralling, as it's easy to become engrained within these characters' lives. They're still reeling from recent events, struggling to put the pieces back together and figure out their next steps. All the while, their enemies are doing the same, however it looks like they might be a few steps ahead.
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The scene with Inaba feels a little long. About half of the issue is dedicated to it and the only thing that really happens is her waking up, duking it out with a couple of members of local law enforcement, grabbing another character, and running away. It's a nice check-in for her, so we get an idea of how desperate she is in the wake of the recent violence, but it does feel rather drawn out.
Steven Cummings' artwork makes up for this, particularly with Inaba's transformation sequence. Seeing this cute, pig-tailed girl change into a fierce werewolf is incredible. Even in her human form, Inaba has a dangerous, yet crazed look in her eyes. She's just woken up and all these strange people are gathered around her so she lashes out.
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The latter half of the issue featuring Shirai is what really stands out. He meets this horrifying spirit named Gashadokuro, which can be seen on the cover. He's a giant with a skull-like face, almost like a skeleton of a hybrid of a human and Godzilla. Spikes jut out from his back, poking through his long, tattered cloak. Cummings' design is breathtaking, especially when the creature saunters through and around the buildings within the city. It's a very menacing look, not to mention how dreadful the whole encounter is. You get the sense that with this appearance, things are going to get worse before they get better.
Writer Jim Zub is moving the characters around as if they were on a chessboard. All of the pieces were just knocked astray and now they're slowly moving into their new positions, gathering themselves together for the next attack. Based on what we've seen, the old gods are not going down without a fight, but given that the new group is so fractured, it will take a lot to take down such forces. Can Rori and the others ever find the synergy they need to regroup once more?