Superheroes may be what’s dominating the box office right now, but they are definitely nothing new. While many are familiar with the huge pantheon of the Marvel and DC houses, there are still plenty of comics that exist in different and exciting worlds all their own, with no weird continuity errors or multiple universes, like the well-known Saga. This one just happens to be the latest in this long tradition but will it leave its mark on this storied history, or will it just be a footnote? No better place to start than the beginning.
Let’s take a look at Wayward Volume 1: String Theory.
A review copy was provided courtesy of Jim Zub.
The plot, in a nut shell, follows Rori Lane, a half-Irish, half-Japanese teenager moving to Japan to be with her mother. However, Rori soon finds that not only are her powers of direction (or rather, following long line of ghostly red thread) heightened but also that there are other super-powered compatriots among her colleagues.
There is spirit eater Shirai, literal cat lady Ayane, and Nikaida, someone who really need to keep his emotions in check for…reasons. The whole first volume more or less lays out everyone meeting each other, trying to figure out what’s going on, and setting up the main conflict. And what is that you may ask? That there are monsters getting riled up and fighting all over Tokyo, and they need to figure out why.
One of the big things the comic has working against it for me, and I am sure for others as well, is what I can only describe as the Weeaboo Factor. For those of you who did not have giant nerdy adolescence, a weeaboo is a person who is so enamored with Japanese culture: they consume mostly Japanese media, use Japanese words, and even to at an extreme level, want to be Japanese, totally simplify complex concepts and ignoring the faults of the society (all societies have faults, let be clear here). Reading this reminded me a lot of this portion of my teenage years and that made me cringe pretty hard. That doesn’t mean the portrayal isn’t realistic in terms of that people like this don’t exists or that this sort of fetishization isn’t something to be dealt with, but it can be a turn off do some people. Also, the less I say about how cliche the “alone” sign carve into Rori’s arm, the better.
There are lots of great things about this comic. For one, the art is fantastic on all fronts. The action is always clear and easy to follow, which works out well for someone who sometimes get confused when it comes to reading panels (i.e. me). The character designs, while definitely a bit more alternative in fashion, are strong and work well to give each character a clear tone and style that fits with their personality. And honestly, there’s just something about the aesthetic, especially in the coloring, of the work itself that just makes it great to look at without following the plot.
The character themselves are interesting enough though we don’t get a lot of background on anyone except for Rori, and even that’s not as much as we usually get in terms of exposition. It’ll probably be further drawn out in later issues, but it could have benefitted from more explanation. Their powers are varied and distinct, which is an aspect that carries the story quite a bit, which will be interesting to see how they develop further.
The dialogue can occasionally feel a bit forced, like it was written for how adults remember teens talking rather than how teens actually talk. That will probably get smoothed out, but more importantly, the pacing is good which means that his comic has a long-term goal in mind for the story. Interactions between characters are well-defined early on, since Rori is sort of forced into the leadership role, and there’s the promise of learning of why all these different groups are falling into conflict, which will like draw on mythology and bring together old and new.
What I see in this comic is potential, oozing out of every frame is lie in wait for the story to get going. It’s hard to make a real statement of good or bad when you’re still in the “meet the team” phase of a comic book. Still, the plot seems to be gearing up towards the end to a bigger picture narrative. So, tentatively I say it is good, but here’s hoping that Volume 2 lives up to the promise it is making here.
– Great art.
– Great character design.
– Huge potential.
– Cringe-worthy at times.
– Dialogue can be clunky.