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Wayward #6 Review

4 min read

Wayward Issue 6 CoverEnter Emi Ohara!

Creative Staff:
Story: Jim Zub
Art: Steve Cummings

What They Say:
After the traumatizing finale of the previous issue, everything has changed. Who is Ohara and how does she fit into the great pattern of destiny and power?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The five issue opening arc we got for Wayward in 2014 was definitely a pretty fun book overall as it blended traditional superhero aspects of American comics with the manga approach in some solid ways. It wasn’t exceptional or beyond words, but it hit the right notes and set a very solid foundation on which to build things as a kind of bridging series in a way for the two kinds of fandoms. With the opening arc closing then, we’ve had a few months waiting for it to kick off and this installment of Wayward gets it all moving again, provides some interesting views of our familiar characters but also delves deeper into the lifestyle of being a student in Japan where you can see similarities and stark differences.

What’s interesting, and potentially frustrating for some, is that it opts to work with a new character for the majority of the book. We get introduced to high school student Emi Ohara, a young woman who is feeling the stranglehold of familiarity and structure in her life as well as the way the big points in her life have largely been figured out for her, with school, college, meeting a nice man and raising a family. She knows she wants more, especially dreaming of the kind of exciting romantic adventures that she has in her manga, but the walls around her are solid and she has nowhere to go. Her days are so mundane and repetitive that she can’t even imagine how to break out of it at this point, especially since most changes would bring some embarrassment to her family, and that’s so ingrained to be avoided that she can’t truly entertain the idea of doing most things.

Where things change is when she goes to buy a gashapon after school, one of her few luxuries, only to have it feel wrong in her hands and surprise her with its heat. This sets off a series of slow but steady changes in her that she can’t understand, with it mostly coming across as being ill. But what really shocks her is in the middle of the night she gets visited by a red ghost form of Rori, who she heard other girls gossiping about at school with all sorts of tales that lead up to Rori’s disappearance. All of this signals how her life is about to change, which she’s wholly unprepared for. So when she’s going home from school later that day while feeling sick, having to confront two spirit foxes that are intent on destroying her is a truly surreal experience. One where she realizes that the life she dreamed of with adventure isn’t anything like it is in the manga.

This is where we do get some time with our familiar characters, but they’re presented through Emi’s view and that has its own complications. While she’s freaking out about everything, having Ayane step into the chase to deal with the foxes certainly freaks her out on top of everything else. But what really drives it, and should color her view (and ours) is when Nikaido ends up calming and soothing the spirit. With it in that mode, Ayane basically bludgeons it to death, feeling all proud and impressed with herself. It makes sense within the context of the series with what we know, but from Emi’s point of view, it’s a brutal sequence paired with Ayane’s very pretty smile over what she’s accomplished.

In Summary:
Admittedly, having long been involved in anime and manga, there’s no real surprises here in how Emi is presented or her struggles. It’s standard fare but realistic fare with how many kids survive in that system and that kind of hopelessness that they feel. It serves well for many characters in how they adapt to the world that opens up before them in other properties, and we look to get some of that with Emi here as well, though potentially with some interesting character twists based on her view of Ayane from the start. The book is definitely a welcome return to my reading schedule as Jim Zub handles the narration very well, making it engaging and interesting, and Steve Cummings really brings the city and its environs to life in a great way, with a mixture of its beauty and its trash, but also the mind numbing aspects of it as well with its conformity. Here’s hoping to another good arc kicking off with this installment and more to come.

Grade: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Image Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: March 25th, 2015
MSRP: $2.99

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