Being advertised as the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a new generation,” Wayward #1 from Image Comics certainly has the right elements in place to grab that title. Written by Jim Zub and art by Steve Cummings, Wayward promises to explore the fascinating folklore of Japan. The first issues provides a good taste of what’s to come from the series, but not much else.
Wayward #1 opens up with Rori Lane, a bi-racial teen who’s leaving the Irish side of her father, to be with her mom in Tokyo, Japan. However, after taking her first step in Japan, Rori experiences a weird visual disorder, that actually ends up guiding her to her main destination. Sorta like a flashing red arrow in games like Grand Theft Auto. After getting herself settled, Rori goes sightseeing in her new home. But it’s not long until Rori is subjected to more strange occurrences: One being surrounded by a large group of cats, and the second being ganged up by a gang of Kappa demons in men’s clothing.
Zub has everything set for what looks like to be an entertaining series. Rori is an interesting protagonist, from what’s been revealed by her inner thoughts, and her diverse Asian/Irish background comes off as authentic, than stereotypical. The Japanese setting and mythology also come off genuine, than a lame gimmick to introduce Godzilla-like creatures for Rori to swing at. The problem here isn’t the content itself, but the lack of anything truly unique in Wayward #1.
Issue one is basically your typical introduction story that’s been cut off in the second act; giving that oh so incomplete feeling. One of the famous rules of writing is to leave the audience wanting more, but what’s shown in Wayward #1 isn’t very different from other series before it. There’s some unanswered questions here, but nothing really compelling to justify a month-long wait to find the answers for.
For what Wayward #1 may lack in great excitement, it makes up for in its beautiful artwork by Cummings. The character designs are very appealing, with Rori’s appearance capturing her racial and cultural divide. And the Japanese scenery displayed throughout issue one is impressive; making you feel like you’re the one who took a trip to Japan. The visual depictions of the Kappas were relatable in design, but still unique in their hideousness. Can’t particularly wait to see what Cummings does with the more extravagant creatures of Japanese mythos. Action scenes were few, but staged well in issue one.
As previously stated, there’s nothing terribly wrong with Wayward #1. At $3.99, the opening issue provides an overall decent story. It’s just not a strong introduction that sets it apart from the crowd, nor fully satisfies as a single issue. With the set-up out of the way, hopefully Wayward will better strut its stuff in issue two.