While there have been some problems, the third arc of Wayward has been the series’ most promising; there’s been more development of the main villain, previous plot points being addressed, and the action has ramped up considerably. Can the series nail the landing for the arc’s finale? Is it good?
Wayward #15 (Image Comics)
Pushed into a tight corner, Nurarihyon, the leader of the Yoaki (the bad guys), has decided to push back furiously against the young teens that have been thrwarting his group’s control for centuries. In doing so, he has gotten help from the Japanese Self Dense Force and is attacking the heroes’ base with all of its power. How is Rori Lane, who is still under the control of Tsuchigumo, and her gang going to get out of this?
This is by far one of Wayward’s strongest endings to a story arc. The villains are finally pushing back hard against the heroes and hitting them where they hurt. Instead of being on the offensive, the leads have to be on the defensive and during all of this, they lose an ally (I mean sure, the Tsuchigumo had been manipulating things for her advantage, but she was still technically fighting against the bad guys). Compared to the first arc where the big moment lacked punch since a certain character wasn’t developed and the second arc where the characters just attack a random enemy temple and destroy somethings that were apparently important, this finale felt more earned and powerful. The ending pages, while random, are surprising and it should be interesting to see what happens next for the cast.
The other strength of the issue lies in the artwork. While it doesn’t appeal as much to me as it does for some others, the skill and work put in here by Steve Cummings is undeniable. The layouts are put together well and you there’s a great sense of energy in the action scenes. The characters remain striking and well-designed, with a good range of emotions and expressions (sans the rare silly/derpy looking eyes that pop up). The coloring looks good too, helping set the mood of the book and even capturing the time with the warm colors depicting the sunset in one scene. I think the only slight iffy spot of the coloring is that it never depicts blood right; it always looks more like paint or tomato paste than actual blood.
And there’s a fire going on inside of your head given the amount of smoke coming out of your nose.
Despite being a solid ending to the arc, it pains me to say that Wayward #15 still suffered from problems in the story and character department. For one thing, it still dances around the plot point of Rori Lane mind wiping Emi Ohara’s family so they would forget they had a daughter (mind you, just them in particular. Not her friends, school, or neighbors; who all must be wondering where the hell she is and asking her parents about her). Emi finally learned the truth last issue, but that got sidelined almost immediately when a bad guy appeared. In this issue and most likely the next arc, judging from the ending, it appears that the mind wipe plot point will be sidelined even further; it’s a major point for this character and a big conflict between her and Rori, but the comic keeps dodging it when it feels like it could be good development for the two.
Speaking of which, Rori herself is inconsistent and horribly underdeveloped this entire arc. She barely showed up in the last arc (and her development there felt very rushed when it came to her learning how to use her powers) and here she gets the shaft once again. Rori was under the influence of the Tsuchigumo for most of the arc, so she was out of commission. Then when she came out of it, she was suddenly horrified by everything that had happened and started crying. But why? Last arc, she caused quite a bit of death, started a war, and mind wiped a family. It feels that even if she wasn’t under the influence of the spider clan and given the people that she hangs around with, it’s more than likely she would have caused all this bloodshed that she’s now crying about. Maybe she’s upset that she doesn’t remember causing all the mayhem, but it’s not fully clear.
But why? Why?! TELL ME WHY?!
Rori isn’t he only character who remains underdeveloped in this arc: Ayane, the bloodthirsty cat girl, remains a devoted friend of Rori for vague reasons and still doesn’t have that clear of a backstory. Shirai is just aggressive and not much else in the issue. Nikaido still controls emotions but does nothing else in the issue, which continues to be a theme for this entire arc in hindsight (though Jim Zub has thankfully confirmed the character will get more attention soon). Then there’s Inaba Kami, and she’s sort of a copy of Ayane, with the same blood thirst and mean side. Besides what she is as a creature, she really does nothing this issue nor this arc outside of her introduction. Finally there’s the villain of Segawa, who contributed to the plot, but has no real presence otherwise in the comic. That’s the biggest downside of this issue: while the plot progressed decently enough, most of the characters remained the same, too many new characters were introduced and little was done with them, and points for where there could be character growth or development was not acted upon. This leaves the ending, while better than previous arc endings, not as powerful or emotionally impactful as it should since it’s hard to care about the characters here. I will say positively though that Nurarihyon came out of the arc looking the best and most developed, feeling more like a full-fledged and decently developed main villain than ever before.
Is It Good?
Wayward #15 and the latest Wayward arc as a whole has been an improvement for the series. It fixed a lot of the problems with pacing and the story finally felt like it was getting somewhere. However, while it came away looking good in the story department, sans a few points, it fell short in the character department. The cast just was not developed that well or not at all. This led to an arc that felt hollower than usual and lacked the emotional investment in the characters. Despite it all, if things continue to improve, Wayward looks to have a bright future. Hopefully the next arc is where the characters finally start shining.