Willow: Wonderland #1-5
Writers: Jeff Parker and Christos Gage
Artist: Brian Ching
Publisher: Dark Horse
As a television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been off the air for a decade, but the Buffyverse is still going strong. When the series was cancelled after season seven, Joss Whedon and co. took season eight to Dark Horse, and 2013 saw the start of season nine. There are ideas and scenes that comics can depict which television just doesn’t have the budget for, and the results were both shocking and spectacular.
At the conclusion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, we saw the destruction of the Seed, which removed magic from the world. The effects are being feltby all, the monsters and mundane. In a world without magic, witches are just people, and newly sired vampires turn into zombie vampires (“zompires”). It’s affecting everything creative from music to poetry to sidewalk art – even rainbows are less than they were, reduced to two just colours. Concurrent with Season Nine, and following an appearance in Angel and Faith, Willow has used the Slayer’s scythe to open a way to another world, and she’s on a mission to bring the magic back to terra firma, not just for herself, but for everyone.
As the title suggests, there are a number of tie-ins to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, a pipe smoking (instead of hookah smoking) caterpillar, and akind of mad tea party of supernatural women, except in this grown up world, they drink magic wine (sans hangover). It’s a cute conceit, and the series borrows much from HP Lovecraft with hints of Neil Gaiman. The world –or words – created are richly imaginative, with fan geek winks to the reader.
Brian Ching’s art is clean, and while his characters don’t closely resemble the show’s actors,they bring a fresh look to familiar characters. Willow doesn’t look like Alyson Hannigan, but she still feels like Willow. As a bonus, the landscapes are gorgeous, and the monsters beautiful, especially the darker creatures.
It’s nice to see Willow stepping out on her own, away from Buffy and the Scoobies, no longer just a sidekick, but as the hero of her own miniseries. I hope we can look forward to more in this vein.