Willow Rosenberg – the gifted magic-user, and best fried of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – continues her quested to restore the Earth’s lost magic. Jeff Parker and Christos Gage write Wonderland: a story about good, evil, and addictions.
Willow: Wonderland #3 and #4
To start with the artwork, Michelle Madsen provides a broad and impressive range of colour throughout both issues of the comic. For example, Willow travels through seemingly empty and lifeless wastelands. It would be straightforward to depict these barren locations in similar colours. Madsen, however, gives the impression of completely different settings with gold, yellow, and burnt-out orange. Willow travels to a variety of locales, and a coral reef is coloured in lively shades of greens, pinks, and blues. A magical and whimsical atmosphere is strengthened and expanded as a result of her work across both issues.
Brian Ching’s pencils show diversity – in issue #3, a tiny and adorable octopus with “Chibi” shaped bodies emerge from an endless ocean, and merge into a terrifying, giant octopus with a furrowed brow. In issue #4, the entire cast of Buffy appear as Willow has a shocking revelation. Ching captures distinctly each of the characters from Joss Whedon’s entire run on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s an impressive, full page artwork.
Willow’s quest is also evolving into a journey of self discovery. She understands that “There is no light Willow, and no Dark Willow: There’s just Willow”, which is a major change for a character who constantly feels fear of losing control, and transforming into a fractured, dark version of herself dubbed “Scary Veiny Willow”. Both issues are an interesting meditation on good and evil aspects.
Addiction has also been a key part of Willow’s life since Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6 aired back in 2001 and 2002. Willow’s own struggles with an addiction to magic are brought back without the feeling that the comic is preaching to the audience.
Russell Brand wrote extensively on addiction following the death of singer Amy Winehouse. he said that “The priority of any addict is to anaesthetise the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief.” Sadly, an old flame – Willow’s former teacher, a tricky snake-woman named Aluwyn – plays on Willow’s current turmoil and stress, offering relief and comfort as a means to spark-up a new relationship. Willow is described as a “first-class problem solver”, however, and there is more that a good chance she will overcoming these challenges. Another fun addition is seeing Willow wielding the Scythe – a poweful weapon with a unique design.