Review: ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow-Wonderland’ #4

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Christos Gage joins Jeff Parker once again, to deliver another plot driven issue of Dark Horse Comics’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow – Wonderland. And though it’s not the most riveting installment of the series thus far, a moment of highest dramatic tension, accompanied by a significant character reveal at the end of the fourth installment will forgive any predictability in the script. Unfortunately, the fandom will be less forgiving of the implications derived from the insinuated series’ end, as it fosters an undesirable future for both Willow, and the BuffyVerse.

WRITTEN BY: Jeff Parker, Christos Gage
ART BY: Brian Ching
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASE: February 6th

With the final issue set for release next month, Parker and Gage utilize Part 4 as a means to reignite Willow’s drive and focus concerning her quest to restore magic on Earth. No longer distracted by the beautiful Aluwyn and her “Mystic Opium Den”, Willow rejoins Marrack and embarks on the final stages of her journey in the Liminal Lands; a dimension which acts as a pathway to another, and where magic exists in its purest form. It’s there where our protagonist finally understands what needs to be done.

Earth needs an anchor to act as a source of magic to enable the flow of mystical energy between realms. What if Willow’s the anchor? What if she lets herself become one with the pristine magic of the Liminal Lands and transforms into the new Seed? Parker and Gage present her inner-musings in the form of a telling dramatic monologue that forces Willow to face some cold hard truths about herself and her struggles against Dark Willow. And with the reveal of who Marrack really is and what his intentions are, the timing couldn’t have been more significant.

There’s a blatantly, almost painfully, obvious clue on Megan Lara’s variant cover. The strawberry plant placed by Marrack’s feet is a huge giveaway as to his identity, because ‘Strawberry’ is an old nickname given to Willow by an influential past foe. But even without the straightforward symbolism, his true self is immortalized in the last 4 letters of his alias. SPOILER ALERT: Marrack is actually Rack, a warlock of the highest order, and supplier of addictive magic. This is a significant character return because it’s believed that Willow murdered Rack in Season 6. It took a while, but he’s finally back for revenge, and he won’t rest until he drains Willow of every last shred of magic she possesses.

Like last month’s installment, Brian Ching’s pencils and Michelle Madsen’s colours do not particularly meet the quality that we’re used to from these two artists, but the panels showcasing Willow’s inner-monologue and the entrance of Dark Willow are beautifully drawn and delicately coloured. Also like last month’s installment, Part 4 doesn’t live up to the high quality presented in the first two issues, but the set up for Part 5’s conclusion couldn’t be any more exciting and detrimental to the future of the BuffyVerse, so it’s an issue that can’t be missed.

3.5/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – ShadowJayd