Released this week, I’m taking another gander at Wayward and looking at the second issue. After her quirky introduction to her new life in Tokyo, Rori has to undertake her scariest challenge yet: getting through her first day of high school. Of course nothing is as it seems… Well, okay, maybe only a few things.
There are spoilers in this review.
Jim Zub doesn’t try to create some idealised interpretation of high school life in Japan. When Rori starts she’s clearly an outsider and most readers will probably find the prescriptiveness of school life in these pages quite suffocating. I know I did. Zub really brings home the idea that most schools there are more extreme in nit wanting to be dealing with difference, they just want homogeneity.
Of course this puts Rori in an immensely difficult position, because through her very genes she’s already marked out as different. She’s other from the start, something her fellow students seem almost ready to pounce on. However, this was all convincingly conveyed by Zub and line artist Steve Cummings.
Apart from more supernatural shenanigans, there was one other thing that stood out in this issue, but not necessarily for the right reasons. During lunch break of her first day at her new school, Rori finds that she is incredibly overwhelmed by everything that is happening to her.
She bundles herself off to the girls’ loos and locks herself inside a cubicle. There she self-harms. It’s sudden, and shocked me, because there was no previous sign that she wasn’t coping well, other than agreeing to move. While delivering a huge piece of exposition for the character, the comic quickly moves on from that moment.
I felt like the scene was a bit too throw away, it’s also one of the biggest bits of characterisation to happen in the issue. It seems strange to say that I was fine with it being there and it was good that it made me squirm, but what I struggled with was how little it was explored. I hope that over the course of subsequent issues, Rori does change (like any well written protagonist does) and that the character is given the help she needs. It would be a shame for her arc in this respect to follow the trajectory of most media representations of psychological illness where it’s often used to add a sense of tragedy to a character, but is rarely alleviated in a positive manner.
If you’ve read the first issue, you may find this second one a little slow going, but it’s definitely worth sticking with for the time being. We get to know Rori a little more, but I hope these all don’t become throw away moments. The art and colour work continues to be amazing and Zack Davisson’s fact file at the end also continues to be a treasure trove of insight.
Wayward chapter two is out now, published by Image Comics. Our reviewer bought their own copy digitally.