Willow – Wonderland #1-5
Written by Christos Gage and Jeff Parker
Pencils by Brian Ching
Inking by Jason Gorder
Colours by Michelle Madsen
Covers by David Mack and Megan Lara
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Willow Rosenberg has long been one of the most cherished, admired, and written about characters in the Buffyverse. Part of her appeal of course stems from the enormously talented and infectiously adorable Alyson Hannigan, who portrayed her throughout the seven seasons of the television series. She has also gone through enormous changes, growing from the overalls-wearing meek teenage girl, uncomfortable in her own skin and afraid of confrontations, and gradually growing into a powerful magic-using Wicca lesbian (who may have once tried to destroy the world after going evil in a brilliant truly under-appreciated season of television).
The Buffy/Willow friendship becomes strained at the end of Season 8, when Buffy controversially takes it upon herself to decide to destroy the Seed (the heart of all magic on Earth) in order to bring an end to the incoherent nonsense that was the final arc to the season. So after destroying the hugely important mystical-item-to-end-all-mystical-items (that for whatever reason was never discussed during the first seven seasons), most magic was shut off from this dimensional plane. Demons already on Earth are simply stuck there; vampires already sired stayed as is; new vampires made closer resemble zombies due to not having a fresh demon in inhabit their body; oh, and witches no longer have any powers left, which naturally, is a big no-no for Willow. She walks away from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9” in issue #5, with the mystical scythe in hand, where she then moves onto “Angel and Faith” for a few issues, which leads into her solo adventure in this five issue miniseries, wherein Willow has found a way to access other dimensions, and she goes to one, hoping to be able to restore magic on Earth.
Jeff Parker is the voice of this comic and he immediately brings readers up to speed, so that people not following the other related Buffy titles can still follow this story. From Willow’s perspective, the loss of magic has taken a nasty toll on Earth, from artists lacking proper motivation or inspiration, to suicide rates of citizens taking a significant increase. This is new information for those who have been previously reading the Buffy comics, and this important exposition is all Parker, and adds a great deal of urgency to Willow’s quest.
Parker has a clear knack for writing Buffyverse dialogue. The best compliment that can be given to dialogue in a comic adapted from film or TV is that you can easily imagine the actor-in-role reciting these lines and have it sound perfectly right. The Buffy related comics this year have been inconsistent in that regard, but that praise definitely rings true for Willow’s dialogue in this mini.
The artwork in “Willow – Wonderland” is some of the very best ever in a Buffyverse comic, and this is speaking about both the covers and the interior art. David Mack and Megan Lara produced five covers each, all ten of them strikingly beautiful works of art. The trio of talented artists responsible for the interior comic stunningly complement one another and every panel is a delight to see.
The series falters a bit with #3, the issue that debuts a co-writer, Christos Gage, whose work on “Angel and Faith” has been consistently impressive from the first issue onward. It is not clear why the series suddenly needed co-writers, but the middle issue is not as vibrantly refreshing as the first two. The plotting becomes a little more predictable, and where previously all narrative happenings were essential, without a page wasted, the middle of the mini has the narrative stalling. Fortunately, the artwork carries the comic along, as well as Willow’s dialogue and sense of humour.
#4 advances the story at an acceptable rate, bringing the comic to its dazzling final issue, which is every bit as engrossing as the first two. The panels here are maybe the most gloriously appetizing throughout all five issues, and the story ends on a powerful note. Willow’s story arc spanning the post-Season 8 comics has been the most interesting to read of any character in these titles, and her five issue solo adventure is a great success of a comic. And things do not end here; Willow will soon be returning to “Buffy: Season 9” just in time for its final story arc.
All 5 issues of “Willow – Wonderland” have been released. The trade paperback collecting the entire miniseries will be released September 3, 2013.