Manga + Superheroes = Wayward from Image Comics
Well, this was…unexpected. Image’s Wayward #1 is a strange but lively one.
Rori Lane knew life would be different when she moved from Ireland to Japan to live with her mother. But she wasn’t expecting to encounter the supernatural when she got there. She barely has time to register that she’s in a new country before she’s attacked by giant monster turtles and saved by a blue haired strawberry milk addict (I really want to know what’s up with her need for strawberry milk). Add on top of that the fact that she’s developing a new super ability and you’ve got the start of an interesting albeit strange comic.
Rori comes from an untraditional background (father is an Irish engineer; mother is a Japanese seamstress) who is moving to Japan to live with her mother. In order to explain who Rori is and why she’s moving, etc., writer Jim Zub and artist Steve Cummings depict her on her travels (from plane to train to subway) and let Rori explain herself in her own words. While it is a little wordy, letterer Marshall Dillon skillfully includes unobtrusive text boxes to include it all. We are able to get Rori’s tone of voice and mood – her anger at her parents’ divorce, her fear of moving, and her excitement at her new surroundings.
My favorite part of the artwork is actually the coloring done by John Rauch and Jim Zub. Rori stands out from the background (which is incredible. Cummings gives life to Tokyo, filling it with people, small but wonderful details). It isn’t just her vivid red hair, either; her skin tone, clothes, accessories are all at least a shade brighter than everything around her, which looks like dull blues, purples and grays in comparison. It’s easy to follow her as she winds through the crowds in Japan. Then when Rori uses her new-found path-finding ability, Japan is transformed into a stark negative similar to a blueprint, allowing for her path to light up in bright red.
There’s a lot of potential for Wayward. It’s a mix between manga and mainstream superhero stories, reflecting on the fact that Rori is caught between two separate cultures. Action, mythological creatures, and a spunky main character. Also, what’s with all the cats?
(Editor’s note: If you are looking for a gateway into manga and modern interpretations of Japanese mythology, then Wayward is a great place to start. From the blending of American and Japanese comic elements to the informative essays in the back matter, Wayward could open up a whole new wold of comics for you.)