Written by: Jim Zub
Art by: Steve Cummings
I imagine by now that I’m mostly preaching to the choir when I start raving about Wayward, but dang, that’s not my fault. The comic is wonderful. I went into Issue 10 with a lot of excitement and a little trepidation, partly for the characters who were all marching into danger, but mostly because it’s hard to end an arc well. Issue 5 received a perfect score from me, so Issue 10 has a lofty bar to hit.
It almost gets there too, though not quite.
Issue 9 ended on a cliffhanger with Ohara, Ayane, and Nikaido marching into battle with an army of dirt spiders, ready to take over a temple and cut the demon mobsters off from their power source. The last panel showed them armed and determined, with Nikaido carrying a bag of Molotovs.
Issue 10 wastes little time getting to the battle, with only one panel of Ohara wondering if they might be making a mistake. And then the nervous humans standing in front of them all contort into giant bird demons and flames are suddenly everywhere.
After a few issues of character development and world building, Issue 10 acts as a cathartic battle, and what a battle it is. It goes on for most of the comic, with each fighter getting a chance to shine, though Ohara is the highlight. She has gone through an amazing change since Issue 6, starting off as a scared girl trying to please her parents and the strict cultural norms of her country to a vandal wielding a tire iron. It’s chilling and spectacular at the same time.
Yet it is with the battle scene that a few problems arise, and they all involve the art. Most of the artwork is splendid, and like previous issues, the action is easy to follow, but there are a few panels that just look kind of off. One depicts Ohara walking towards a demon, ready to fight, but her back leg is drawn at too much of an angle, making it look like she’s running, though she clearly isn’t. Another involves the bird demons themselves, which are all bright red and come off as a bit cartoony when they are killed. I expected some zany sound effects to erupt from one particular panel.
If this sounds nitpicky at all, it’s because it honestly is. Normally, I wouldn’t have even noticed such minor slipups in the artwork, but Wayward is so beautifully drawn that what few mistakes exist really stand out. In this case, they took me out of the moment.
And if I’m being honest, I feel like the main characters are too adept at fighting. I know the last few issues have done a good job establishing their growing skill, but after the first few panels of action, the tension really goes down as they destroy demon after demon without suffering from any damage. Once again, this is a very small complaint, but given how the other issues have handled some of this, it feels a little glaring.
That all being said, the comic is fantastic, made even better by the last couple of panels when Rori and Shirai show up. The speech Rori gives is perfect in both how it ends the arc and how it encapsulates Wayward as a whole.
This is American Gods set in Japan.