Review - Wayward #1

"I just have to connect the dots. No problem. I'm good at that."

Take a walk on the streets of any metropolis and chances are you'll see a heady mix of events. People walking to and fro, shops selling goods and a general buzz that makes the city feel alive. When the sun goes down though, some cities really are alive, full of evils that only few encounter. How you handle those evils always makes for a good story, like in Wayward #1 from Image Comics, written by Jim Zub, illustrated by Steve Cummings, colored by John Rauch and Zub and lettered by Marshall Dillon.

Rori Lane is starting a new life in Tokyo. It's there she's reunited with her mother of Japanese descent, but the Irish heritage on her father's side still makes things difficult for her. Adjusting to a culture such as that is trying for anyone; a test made even more difficult without the ancient creatures lurking in the shadows. It's a challenge that forces Rori to find things out about herself she wasn't previously aware of, including an ability to save the day when it calls for it.

One of the most important things about bringing readers into a new world is giving them a reason to be in that world in the first place and Zub does a fantastic job of that in Wayward #1. He follows Rori from landing in Japan to finding her way to her mother's apartment to the shopping district (Ikebukuro). In that sense, the reader uncovers the wonders of Tokyo in the same way that Rori does, with her feelings of being overwhelmed very easy to decipher. That sense of wonderment is further compounded by the transformation the city undergoes at night, where Rori is accosted by the aforementioned ancient creatures. How Zub handles the transition and ensuing reconciliation of the situation feels strongly influenced by Hayao Miyazaki, as both creators pretty deftly depict the switch from normal to paranormal with ease.

Tokyo is one of the most popular cities in the world, so densely populated that it's hard for those who have never been there to fully comprehend what kind of place it is. Fortunately, Cummings does a brilliant job bringing that thriving metropolis to life. He adds enough in the way of background that readers familiar with the area will likely have a sense of where they are based on real world experience. Rori is illustrated with an expected curiosity and aloofness in ways that a half-Irish girl would exhibit in Tokyo. Rauch's colors further the wonder as Rori sees it, as he draws from a darker palette of blues for the night scenes that contrast sharply with the warmer colors from earlier in the book during the day. It's an effect that really hammers home the transition from a city of hustle to a city of magic bustle.

Wayward #1 is a pretty fascinating first issue that completely grabs the reader and brings them right into the world. Rori's uneasiness with the transition and events is beautifully projected onto the reader, as both uncover the mysteries and secrets simultaneously. Zub's no stranger to crafting tales where the fantastic are staples and Wayward #1 is yet another feather in his storytelling cap. The illustrations of Tokyo demonstrate a partnership between Cummings and Rauch that works very well, with Cummings penciling a strange world that gets more vibrant with Rauch's coloring. Wayward #1 is a great book that will definitely win over a lot of readers, so make sure you've got room in your pull list for one more book.

Wayward #1 is in stores today with interiors below.