A review copy was provided by Jim Zub.
Wayward #7 continues with its new heroine, Emi Ohara, as she also begins to navigate the changes undergoing her powers and the city’s monsters. Last issue things set up Emi’s humdrum life while she thinks about the curious disappearance of Rori Lane when blam, the red weave pays a visit to her window.
All of a sudden Emi’s hands are doing things that change what she touches, and mythical monsters come out in the open in search of her blood. In Issue 7, we get some fun reading downtime with Nikaido and the breezy Ayane as they add Emi to their team.
Emi as the new girl quickly fades away into something very natural as the story progresses. There are moments at first where Emi panics about how her life is changing, but that dissolves in favor of feeling a sense of purpose. While Rori was left worrying over being the leader for this mishmash band of kids, Emi enjoys the control she gets over her life.
Rori was thrown into a new country and that land’s mess while reconnecting with her mother, whereas Emi welcomed the interruption. As Nikaido put it, they all realized there was something bigger going on. Emi always suspected there was more to life than school, and now when she gets it, she doesn’t regret it. At least, not yet.
That being said, the parents are a little too willing to believe in Emi’s outright lies. You can still see a few small rips in her skirt, though I’m surprised she managed to clean the blood off her skin from last time and treat the cut along her leg. The art makes no secret of Emi’s obvious levels of discomfort, which means the parents’ response were deliberately tame. And last time we got an under-reaction from a parent was the bag of worms that was Rori’s mother. Hmm.
Speaking of secrets going on behind their back, we get some insight on the villains as they are regrouping. Mr. Hat is still alive and kicking after the explosion, and passing along information about Rori’s group of anomalies – if that’s what they are. If an Injustice League-type alliance is brewing, then they may be facing more than a few fox demons that spring on them. At least it’s a sight to see some more myths come to life, including the long-nosed avian tengu. We also see the more grisly fate of the messenger that appeared at the end of the last issue.
As the plot begins winding up again, we get some much-needed Ayane/Nikaido (or Niki, as she calls him) interaction as normal friends. They seem a lot more comfortable with each other. I’m happy to see Nikaido’s emotion powers under control, along with his confidence.
When Emi becomes friends with them, she sees how their differences consolidate into a strong monster-hunting combo. What I also love about Emi is that despite her readiness to fight, she never ditches her ribbon or how properly she wears her uniform. Despite rushing into battle, it’s still a large part of who she is.
The friendship that develops between Emi and Ayane is slightly reminiscent of the one with Rori. Ayane follows Emi to the obon festival, where we get treated with the girls in yukatas. Ayane’s idea of spirit communication adds a split between the modern treatment of traditional Japanese customs versus how seriously she takes honoring the dead. Even more touchingly, we see Ayane in tears again, this time happy with the realization that Rori is not dead.
The art is colorful and the panels are spaced to give us some breathing room after all the horror. My favorite panels are the transitional montages with Emi’s narration. The lights and the sky glows softly around them before cooling off as the night turns in a more supernatural direction at the end. It’s a nice touch that Ayane’s hair goes back to blue (how does she do that again?), because you know somewhere in the city something’s up.
What Wayward #7 does so well is develop each character, while simultaneously advancing the plot at a pace we want to be at. The first half slows down to give us the moments we need with each character so we can connect with them as they become a team. Emi starts to become a lot more playful of a person, using her powers creatively and without hesitation. For once, Ayane is in the spotlight but isn’t the sole star. Nikaido gets fleshed out a bit as well, transforming from the previously hunched-over boy to someone who is not afraid of what’s coming.
Wayward uses all of its pages to its advantage. The tantalizing ending seems to signal they’ll need all the new-found willpower they have. I happened to really like this issue, despite how it appears to be more on the side of non-action. The storytelling in this issue is sure to give readers a sense the next installments will be worth the wait.
-Emi grows into her powers and becomes a monster-hunting pro.
-Ayane and Nikaido are a lot more relaxed and together as a team.
-Some important plot points are in the works.
-Mix of great art and pacing.
-Only that #8 is weeks away!