‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow #1’ - Advance Comic Book Review

Quick recap: The Hellmouth has been muzzled. After losing Xander, an unsettled and heartbroken Willow made the decision to temporarily leave Sunnydale... which is where we find her in this miniseries.  

After recent events, Willow finds herself unmoored and lost without her emotional anchor. Her study abroad sojourn to England leaves her unfulfilled, and she’s still looking for something more. Tsk tsk, it sounds like Willow’s journey of self-discovery is just beginning.

Mariko Tamaki pens this tale, and it’s off to a strong start. Willow’s internal monologues are convincingly Willow-y in tone and clearly set up the stakes and trajectory of the arc. Tamaki takes her time with setting this, dropping some intriguing hints along the way. Willow’s search for that missing something is clearly an internal quest, but her she’s got to look in the wrong places before she finally arrives where she needs to be. Finding herself in the charming hamlet of Abhainn, which translates to “river,” may absolutely be symbolic, since rivers are a common literary device symbolizing journeys and/or a test. #StoriesMatter because they take us on these journeys, making abstract concepts about discovery something more tangible. One of the strengths of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was how it recontextualized adolescent angst as literal monsters and demons, and Willow seems to continue in that tradition. An issue I’ve had with BOOM!’s Willow is that her progression into a powerful witch has occurred generally behind the scenes. It’s one thing to introduce us to a character that’s already somewhat steeped in the occult, it’s a whole other thing for her to just already be really powerful. Instead of a journey, Willow’s power was basically treated as a plot point. I’m hoping that Tamaki’s run here will flesh some of that out.

Natacha Bustos’ artwork is charming and super easy on the eyes. Her design elements are clean and tight without any clutter. The double-page spread of Willow’s vision is pretty cool, with some very intriguing depictions of some familiar faces, and, dare I say, familiar-looking iconic objects. Eleonora Bruni’s color work nicely complements Bustos’ illustrations, keeping things nice and bright in tone… well mostly… things may not stay super rosy for long. Jodi Wynne’s lettering keep Willow’s stream of consciousness moving, establishing cadence and rhythm, even when there are multiple text bubbles in the same panel.

Overall, Willow #1 is clearly exposition, but it hints at some really cool mysteries ahead. Tamaki et al. look poised to give a beloved LGBTQ+ icon her due.

Creative Team: Mariko Tamaki(writer), Natacha Bustos (artist), Eleonora Bruni (colorist), Jodi Wynne (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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