A comiXologist Recommends:
Mike Isenberg recommends Wayward #1
As frequent anime convention attendees in the late 1990s, my friends and I had a theory that the primary export of Japan was Crazy. With a mix of its own ancient folklore and a hodgepodge of external cultural and religious influences, the collective Japanese imagination seems to constantly produce work that could never have existed anywhere else, and that often seems wild and bizarre to foreign eyes.
Wayward #1’s protagonist, Rori Lane, has one such pair of foreign eyes. Half-Japanese by birth, she begins the story traveling to Japan for the first time, moving there as a young adult to live with her mother and get a fresh start after her parents’ rough divorce. What she experiences on her first night, however, goes well beyond culture shock and jet lag, and deep into the territory of the truly bizarre and supernatural.
Written by Jim Zub (jimzub) and drawn by Steve Cummings, Wayward is a supernatural action/adventure story steeped in Japanese folklore. Just beneath the shadows of Zub & Cummings’ Tokyo is a world of mythical yōkai, mysterious and mischievous monsters of Japanese legend.
The book’s art is a pleasure to view. Cummings’ line art is crisp and dynamic, and the colors (supplied by Zub and John Rauch) make each page really pop. The action sequences are fluid and exciting, and Cummings’ deft hand with facial expressions gives the characters a significant level of depth and relatability.
Wayward #1 also features some great back-matter from Japanese folklore scholar Zack Davisson, including an overview of yōkai mythology throughout Japanese history and a short essay profiling the legendary roots of one of the monsters featured in this issue. It certainly isn’t required reading if you’d rather just focus on the gorgeous action/adventure comic preceding it, but I found all of it really fascinating and informative.
Definitely recommended for fans of supernatural action/adventure stories like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, or just anyone who wants to see feral, cat-like Japanese girls tearing into legendary turtle demons. And really, who doesn’t? If the chief export of Japan really is Crazy, then lock me in the nut house because I love this stuff.