Promising to be a new generation’s Buffy, Wayward #1 debuts this week with a Japanese/Irish heroine and a sleek new look; is it good?
Wayward #1 (Image Comics)
Rori Lane is headed to Japan to live with her freshly divorced mother. She is a girl with a flawed upbringing who feels very connected to both of her parents’ cultures. We learn all of this and more about Rori’s past from a lengthy segment of exposition at the beginning of the comic. Not only is this kind of storytelling a cheap trick to cover a lot of ground without having to integrate valuable information with the actual story, it makes the opening extremely dull. Although Rori’s story prior to the comic does seem to tread a bit on familiar ground, she does seem like a genuinely interesting character; it’s a pity we had to get introduced to her like this.
After we’re finished with the expositional slog, we begin to see Rori experience Japan and get accommodated to living in a new place. She’s extremely observational, however, her observations are not that profound and come so often they become bothersome. She thinks her powers are just because of jet lag, she finds a new place overwhelming yet amazing, she feels pity for her mother because her job is strenuous. Just page after page of remarks that feel so unoriginal and uninspiring that it really wears you down. As a narrator, Rori should enhance the story by providing us with fresh insight that makes her story more meaningful, or to tell a story that somehow juxtaposes with and elevates the story. Instead, she just babbles on with a sense of wonder that makes her unappealing. By far the aspect of this comic I liked least was Rori’s ham-handed and dull inner monologue.
The aspect I most enjoyed however was the delightful fight scene midway through. When Rori is seemingly randomly harassed and cornered by a couple of brutes a sassy, fresh and charming new character swoops in to help her out. As Rori’s savior begins knocking these thugs into tomorrow, we find out that the bad guys aren’t as they appear. All three of the lowlifes transform into giant turtle monsters and the girl who was previously handling the thugs calls to Rori to join the fight. After a few more panels of fighting, Rori’s newfound power kicks in and she realizes her ability: she can pick out her own route of escape that will lead her to safety. She executes her plan of escape and soon her and her savior have left the monsters in the dust.
To keep this review relatively spoiler-free I will not talk about the aftermath of the fight, but would like to say that I found it to be rather clunky dialogue-wise and that the new character was not as interesting as I had hoped. The fight scene that I described previously, however, was very satisfying. The banter was entertaining, the twists unexpected and exciting and the couple of pages as a whole thrilling and pleasing.
Although the writing was kind of undermined by the clutter of panels, the ham-handedness and the excessive inner-monologue-ing, the art by Steve Cummings was crisp and stylized, with a style that interestingly balanced tones of Japanese Manga and Western comics. The art made me feel and experience the setting of Japan in a way that was so much deeper and more effective than the written descriptions of Rori’s surroundings.
Is It Good?
I anticipate many people will find this story exciting and intriguing, but it’s just not for me. I simply can’t connect at all with the way this comic is written and besides that one good fight scene, the whole story was pretty bland to me.