This week saw the release of Willow: Wonderland #2, written by Jeff Parker and featuring the art team of Brian Ching (pencils), Jason Gordes (inks), and Michelle Madsen (colors). Issue #2 builds on the setup presented by Ching’s first script, continues the interweaving of the various Buffy and Angel TV series and comic mythologies, and reintroduces some familiar faces.
Here’s a quick summary of Issue #2:
This issue opens with Willow and Marrak defeating the attacking demon from the cliffhanger at the end of last issue. After Willow saves their collective butts, she and Marrak bid their caterpillar friend adieu and continue to follow the path of the divination spell.
After a brief encounter with a pack of winged dreams and nightmares (they take solid form in this world), Marrak and Willow discuss the witch’s plan to bring magic back to Earth. Willow is hoping to find a source of magic in this new world, possibly in the form of a deeper well, and then plans to use the slayer scythe to cut an opening back to Earth and allow the magic to flow back into her home world.
Eventually, Willow and Marrak cross paths with Aluwyn, the Saga Vaskui. Willow and Aluwyn are overjoyed to be reunited and, shortly after, Willow’s snaky lover takes the witch and her demonic-looking companion to The Wellspring, a deeper well of magic in this world. After Aluwyn was cut off from Earth by the destruction of the Seed, she formed a supercoven with other women of sorcery at the Wellspring and those who gathered there are very familiar with the “legendary” Willow Rosenberg.
With the help of the supercoven, Willow repairs Buffy’s broken slayer scythe. She then attempts to open a portal to Earth and “recharge” her world with magic – without success. The issue ends with Aluwyn informing Willow that if the red headed witch’s attempt has failed, it means that there is no way magic can return to Earth!
Megan Lara’s cover. It’s just fantastically beautiful! Lara has also created some ravishing Serenity prints for QMx, and I’m overjoyed to see her bring her amazing talents to the Buffy-verse! (How about some prints down the road, guys? Dark Horse? QMx? Can we get on that?)
Return of Willow’s snaky lover. While I still have a severe level of distrust for the “trickster” and don’t completely understand Willow’s enchantment with the demonic snake lady, I was excited to see the return of Aluwyn, the Saga Vaskui. She’s an intriguing character and provides an interesting relationship for Willow to explore post-Kennedy. I hope she features even more prominently in the events of Season 9 than she did in Season 8.
No more broken slayer scythe! While I had an internal squeal of joy upon seeing the slayer’s weapon restored to its former glory, it was made bittersweet by the fact that we’re seeing the necessary pieces for the bleak and magic-less Fray future fall in place. The memory of Buffy shattering the scythe in Fray’s hand with a single, powerful blow was one of the more epic and heart-wrenching images from Season 8. Also, we all know what happened to Willow in that dark vision of the future . . .
Deeper wells and more Angel/Buffy bleedover. The mention of The Deeper Well on Earth and its connection to The Wellspring was another great reminder of the blessing of a connected and interwoven Buffy-verse that the Buffy and Angel comics have bestowed upon the fan community. Seeing elements of both shows merge in order to form multiple, connected comic storylines warms my little fanboy heart and should get anyone excited about a certain blue old one who will be appearing in Buffy: Season 9 in the next few months!
Why was this not released after Buffy: Season 9 #16? In this issue, we get a peek of a scene between Buffy, Xander, and Dawn that corresponds with an upcoming issue of Buffy: Season 9 #16. Maybe there’s a plan I can’t foresee, but it does strike me as odd that Dark Horse didn’t release the Buffy issue first, so that readers of Willow: Wonderland #2 would be able to place the scene and recognize it as current events taking place back on Earth as opposed to questioning whether the vision was real or depicting past or future events. Not a huge flaw, but it did strike me as an odd decision.
The Ugly (Fan Buzz, that is…)
Fan reaction has been fairly positive for this issue with a lot of fans mentioning that they really felt that Ching nailed down Willow’s voice in this issue. Willow: Wonderland #2 also got positive reviews from Bloody Disgusting, Comic Booked, Three If By Space, and Comics Grinder.
“A weapon blessed as its counterpart Excalibur!” It seems like a throw away line during the “reforging” of the slayer scythe, but there were a few comments regarding the exciting possibility of a connection between King Arthur’s famous blade and the slayer’s weapon. Given the brief appearance of a sword in a stone during Whistler’s backstory in Angel & Faith #15, maybe there is an important relation that has yet to be revealed.
Faceless Dawn. There’s been a lot of speculation regarding the lack of Dawn’s face when Willow peeks back into the events taking place on Earth. Has the destruction of the Seed effected Dawn in some way, given her origin as The Key? Is this in some way related to the dream of faceless people Willow experienced earlier in the issue? Only time will tell.
Will Willow become the new Seed? This is another theory being discussed in the fan community. Given the presence of Dark Willow in the Fray universe, many have speculated that Willow may have to become the new Seed for Earth or serve as the source of magical energy herself. This doesn’t really explain the lack of magic in the Fray universe, but perhaps she will operate more like a battery, with a limited amount of magical energy to share with her world before she is drained completely.
That’s all for now, Scoobies. I’ll be back on Thursday with a review of Buffy #16. Keep your stakes sharp!
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer