This is a dark, dark issue. Willow’s magic use has been hinted at trending towards darkness a few times now; her increasing confidence in herself that trends towards cocky coupled with the black eyes and veiny visage are the hallmarks of her Dark Willow persona that fans will recognize. This issue take us deep into her mindscape, having finally given into the magic instead of resisting it. Dark Willow meets Dark Phoenix is probably pretty on the nose, but *shrug* it’s apt.
Sarah Gailey unleashes the full force of her vision for Willow’s arc in this issue, and while it retreads some old motifs and plotlines, this feels like if Buffy the Vampire Slayer had an HBO budget and no network interference with darker elements. The script is a little wordy at times, but I read it as a person who’s trying to justify their actions, which can often come across as repetitive. So, in short, this is an issue of Willow justifying to herself why she must take this road and see it through to the end.
The artwork by Hannah Templer is phenomenal in this issue. She captures intimacy in one moment and then goes cosmic the next. She’s also not afraid to go horrifying at times, and some panels are not for the faint of heart. While the color palette was much more muted in the previous issue, this one is full of flashy greens and splashes of red. I’d imagine that this was probably a challenging issue to color, hence having four colorists on hand to complete it. Valentina Pinto, Riccardo Giardina, Francesco Segala, and Gloria Martinelli turn in some truly beautiful pages here. And finally, Ed Dukeshire’s masterful lettering keeps a pretty wordy issue easy to read without obscuring all of the lovely artwork.
Overall, it feels like the end is nigh… and it’s not looking great for the Scoobies, with Willow’s increasingly nihilistic POV.
Creative Team: Sarah Gailey (writer), Hannah Templer (artist), Valentina Pinto, Riccardo Giardina, Francesco Segala, Gloria Martinelli (colorists), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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