‘Wayward’ starts rising to the occasion.
In my review for volume five of Wayward, I expressed a lot of my misgivings and the problems I’ve had with this series since its beginning. I’ve been reading it since its first issue, and with it now entering its last arc of the series, it feels like I’m losing a friend, no matter how critical I’ve been of it over the years. Wayward was one of the first creator-owned comics I read simply because it interested me. Most every other series I started reading because someone recommended them to me, or they had a large following or a lot of hype leading up to them. But Wayward captured me with its beautiful art and inventive story, and even if it has had a lot of problems, I feel confident that the final arc will make it worth my time investment.
This is probably one of the best issues since #12 (which was the original issue that made me decide this series was worth the continued read.) At the end of last arc, Rori and all the kiddos finally were reunited, and now the real fun begins. I’ve complained before about the lack of character development or even positive character interactions in this series before, but this issue was all about the characters and their relationships. The first sequence where a military meeting lays out all the characters and their powers was a helpful one to jog readers’ memories on the major players, so when it leads into a very charged scene where the group argues about what to do with Segawa, it doesn’t seem as jarring.
I immensely enjoyed that scene, which took up most of the issue, for its tight dialogue and interesting dynamics between the characters. There’s been a long brewing romantic tension between Emi and Shirai going back to when Emi was first introduced, and it finally came to a boil! They kissed! And that’s a perfect example of what I mean when I say this issue really was trying to fix the problem the series has had with its lack of connection both between the readers and the characters, and the characters with each other.
Of course, Cummings and Bonvillain have been going above and beyond since the very beginning to make this series a visual spectacle to behold. Wayward might be one of the best looking and consistently beautiful series that Image has had to offer in the past few years. The scene where Rori was digging through Segawa’s soul ties to find out the yokai’s loom’s location was GORGEOUS. And Bonvillain’s colors are always so bright and full of life that Wayward wouldn’t be the same without her magical coloring abilities.
This issue made me both joyful and melancholy, as I was so happy to see this series rise to its potential, but also sad to remember it will be over soon. Wayward has always excelled in the visual department, and finally it’s rising to the occasion writing-wise through riveting character drama and escalating the plot to a wonderful crescendo.