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GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Wayward Book 1: Deluxe HC

 
WaywardDlxVol1
WaywardDlxVol1
WaywardDlxVol1

 
Overview
 

Story by: Jim Zub
 
Art by: Steve Cummings, Tamra Bonvillain and John Rauch
 
Publisher:
 
FG RATING
 
 
 
 
 
4.5/ 5


User Rating
1 total rating

 


To sum it all up..

WEST MEETS EAST Jim Zub delves on the supernatural and fantasy in some of the most iconic cult figures in comic history. Now he attempted and right now, nails the right notes on his critically acclaimed and commercially smash hit series, WAYWARD. Deservingly, Image Comics, publisher of some of the best and arguably greatest comics nowadays, […]

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Posted October 18, 2015 by

 
FULL REVIEW
 
 

WaywardDlxVol1

WEST MEETS EAST

Jim Zub delves on the supernatural and fantasy in some of the most iconic cult figures in comic history. Now he attempted and right now, nails the right notes on his critically acclaimed and commercially smash hit series, WAYWARD. Deservingly, Image Comics, publisher of some of the best and arguably greatest comics nowadays, unleashes the series in its most luxurious treatment yet: Wayward Book 1: Deluxe HC.

Let’s check out some of the insides of this beautifully crafted love-letter to anything Japanese pop culture (or J-Pop). First, this book covers two story arcs, containing the first ten issues of the on-going series. Second, it has three hundred pages, including some additional features such as the artworks of Wayward’s co-creator and artist extraordinaire Steve Cummings, and the variant cover arts made by Tamra Bonvillain, John Rauch, and of course, Cummings. Third, it boasts an interconnecting cover art poster of issues six to ten, a rare treat in a deluxe edition, and finally, this monster possesses ten engaging historical-cultural essays about Japanese mythological beasts, and cultural practices and beliefs by the book’s resident consultant and researcher, Zack Davisson (note: he is also the translator of the recently Eisner’s awarded graphic historical four-volume novel saga SHOWA). Lovers of Saga and manga-anime genre can give Wayward a try and may end up amaze how this series is told, drawn, and captivate our artistic and intellectual senses.

The first arc introduces the protagonist, Rori Lane, a half-Western and half-Japanese teenager, who follows her mother in Tokyo, Japan. As usual, she discovers she possesses supernatural abilities she apparently inherits from her mother, and things turn dramatically upside down after that. Also, this chapter presents two or three major supporting casts who would assist Rori in one way or another. The second part shifts by introducing two more characters and goes further to the proverbial rabbit hole as the ancient powers emerge while Rori and her newly “assembled” yokai-powered friends combine their newfound powers and become the so-called “new gods” of Japan. Whoa! That’s definitely a page-turning piece of work here!

Unlike some deluxe hardcover editions out there, Wayward Book 1: Deluxe HC possesses some of the finest qualities in binding and paper usage. The former is less glued but sewn properly, making reading experience, particularly doing so in bed as I do often, as comfortable as possible. As for the latter, the sturdiness of the paper guarantees its longevity and the durability, especially if I unintentionally flip the pages a bit violently or exaggeratingly, though this book lacks a bookmark or lace similar to Marvel’s omnibuses or DC/Vertigo’s Absolute versions.

What makes this work commendable is the writer’s unpretentious love of almost anything J-Pop, especially the manga version. Sure, Wayward is the LOVE LETTER, and the Western-treatment of the manga. However, Jim researches about Japanese culture, consults some specialists on that matter, and puts first and foremost Japan in the narrative, unlike many of his Western counterparts who previously/presently went/go to that route but failed/fail miserably primarily because of their Western-centric perspective first and foremost, consciously or otherwise, into their narratives. Jim perhaps is aware of that pitfall and tries to either avoid it or minimize his Western-centric paradigm. Henceforth, Wayward ultimately reads like a manga series but with a Western-less flavored palette. Furthermore, it is imperative for new readers to read Davisson’s cultural-historical essays afterwards to put the series and even some Japanese cultural practices into proper context (and ultimately, learn more interesting facts and comprehend more about the things we supposedly know and learn as Japanese).

More importantly, Steve Cummings draws some of the great manga-inspired artworks ever, particularly the city landscape of Tokyo, even the most intricate details possible. His sequential paneling is getting more refined as the story progresses. His angular perspectives are even more breathtaking to mesmerize as the plot thickens, and the characterizations develop as well. His facial portrayals of the cast are virtually similar to the Japanese versions; only Steve draws lips, ears, noses and eyes more delicately detailed as possible. Even the illustrations of Japanese Yuma or mythological beasts and/or spirits and the energy projections of the major characters and even so the mythological beings are pretty impressive to look at, proving the artist’s respect and dedication of making Wayward a critically successful manga-inspired series.

If there is another thing that can diminish one bit on this well-crafted independent comic book, it includes some of the very disturbing themes that are well-known in many, many Image published works. Wayward does not shy away the graphic violence that many anime-manga readers and fans are totally aware of. Remember, this is a colored version and the blood here is drawn and colored as is supposed to be. Also, Wayward, has plenty of tragic stuffs inside, hence fans of colorful and vibrant stories are definitely may turn-off this one.

Overall, Jim Zub and Steve Cummings surpass our expectations in their well-written, well-executed, well-grounded and well-researched visual narrative and Japanese-inspired work, Wayward. The book obviously targets English-reading demographics, but it reads and visualizes like a good manga-series run, like One Piece, Naruto, Fairy Tale, Berserk, Bleach, and Claymore. Sure, it’s getting darker as the plot further goes. Yet, Wayward already grasps our attention and we are guaranteed to witness what these so-called “new gods” have to offer that the previous divine beings failed so….


Paul Ramos

 


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