“Willow” glides deeper into her wants and needs in Part Three of “Wonderland.” The Jeff Parker and Christos Gage script gives it up for Willow. Brian Ching’s art gives it up for Willow. This issue is an enchanting walk through the mystical realm that doesn’t seem to offer any options besides hedonistic pleasure. That’s not exactly such a bad idea for Willow. She has a new girlfriend, the reptile witch, Aluwyn, and an intoxicating playground to enjoy.
It is Willow’s sidekick demon, Marrak, who needs to take on the role of nag. He is confident that he’s found some ancient relics that may very well solve Willow’s problem. But what problem is that? Oh, yeah, the whole reason she’s there, to return magic to Earth. It seems no use getting through to this girl. Marrak can’t do it alone. If there was ever any doubt, Willow needs Marrak.
This issue has some really beautiful scenes in it. You have the ocean, and cute and cuddly little octopi, just before a huge Cthulhu like monster spoils the mood. But, the prevailing theme in this issue is that Willow is really at odds with remaining the persistent do-gooder and just giving in to her new bond with Aluwyn. So, a good issue and a chance for us readers to bond more with the characters.
The much anticipated debut of “Willow” gives us an aggressive and dynamic Willow. At her core, she is supposed to be an ethereal, and vulnerable, character. Just consider the cover art above. This is not someone cut out to be an action hero. That wasn’t what Willow was about on the Buffy TV show. However, dire times can bring out people’s inner strength, right? In her recent team-up with Angel and Faith, we did see a feisty Willow. And, in the first issue of this new arc, “Wonderland,” there is no hint left of the soft and sweet Willow we’ve relied upon in the past. Is this deliberate or have we lost something?
I come back to that cover art of a spooky and gentle Willow! Well, I have to strike that up to the classic disconnect that can be found between the cover of a comic and the content within. So, how does Jeff Parker begin his script? He keeps to a standard set-up: recaps what has come before, allows the main character to stretch her limbs a bit, has her meet an unlikely, yet valuable, ally, and sets up a conflict at the end to deal with next time. All in all, it’s not a bad way to go when considering new readers. And you won’t be disappointed. There are a number of entertaining moments and colorful scenes. Willow is, after all, traveling through a new dimension full of strange and dangerous creatures. As the story’s title implies, there is a feeling of Lewis Carroll, albeit from hell.
The urgency biting at Willow’s heels, as we’ve heard over and over again at Dark Horse, is “a world without magic.” Willow is determined to change that and that’s why any trace of irony on her face has been wiped away. My point is that you can take that too far. Brian Ching’s art is stunning but, as any Willow fan will quickly call out, Willow does not look like Willow. She looks here too much like a Laura Croft action hero with generic features, a figure cut out for action and not contemplation. Willow looks here the way she might in an intermission issue, not a full story arc, especially a title opener. That could be a problem but we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out. If you read ahead to the synopsis for each of the forthcoming “Willow” issues on the Dark Horse site, there appear to be things tugging at our girl’s heart and soul.
“Willow” is out today for all of you to review. Visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics.
Dark Horse Comics adds two new spinoffs to its “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” universe: a new “Spike” series and a new “Willow” series! “Spike” #1 comes out August 22, 2012. “Willow” #1 comes out November 21, 2012.