Publisher: Image Comics
Writer(s): Jim Zub
Artist(s): Steve Cummings
Release Date: 27th August 2014
I have an uneasy relationship with manga. I’m very much a fan of Kazuo Koike (Lone Wolf and Cub, Crying Freeman) and Osamu Tezuka (Astroboy, Adolf); a lot of the appeal of BESM (big eyes, small mouth) passes me by. I’m also acutely conscious of the recent spate of post-Buffy action girls (it’s like there are teenagers who’ve not seen it or something…) so I approached Zub’s Wayward with trepidation – as it turns out, mostly unwarranted.
In brief, a teenaged girl of mixed Irish/Japanese parentage (separated) moves to be with her mother in Tokyo after she and her Irish father have had some undisclosed falling out. It turns out she can see paths between things, to this and through things – some sort of gift. She finds herself rapidly drawn into a world of Japanese mythology running around on the everyday streets. This latter part, post exposition, is most interesting and is where the broader storyline is going; it does feel like it doesn’t give us quite enough, however. There is a decent summary of Japanese folkloric tradition at the end, though, which is a good introduction for the novice.
There’s an attempt to merge a more conventionally “western” graphic style with something more Japanese, in an explicit acknowledgement of our heroine’s mixed Japanese/Irish heritage. For the most part, this actually works pretty well: you could gripe that there’s a lack of the surreal or disjointed imagery and framing that one might expect, but that could equally be off-putting to the uninitiated. Generally, the framing, palette and facial aesthetics are recognisably influenced by both styles of media, generally pretty saturated although in places merges together. There’s a disconcerting lack of ultra-violence, which may seem like an odd nit-pick, but I’d expect a bit of gore which would stick out as a strong contrast on the night/action sequences.
A fair start, not utterly compelling, but enough to pique my interest.
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The writer of this piece was: Sam de Smith
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