First impression of this book is great thanks to David Mack’s soft pastel cover. Though it doesn’t match the tone of the interior art, it’s a lovely literal and symbolic portrayal of Willow. Lara Megan’s alternate cover is gorgeous as well, and showcases what’s become her signature art nouveau meets stained glass style portraits of strong women in various fandoms.
Brian Ching’s interior art inked by Jason Gorder and coloured by Michelle Madsen is very vibrant and brings the beastie chasing after Willow and Marrak to life. Unfortunately, it also makes that beastie’s messy defeat a little too vivid. Willow’s quick spell-work to dispatch said beastie is thankfully followed by a spell to tidy things up. Very efficient casting overall, without any pesky evil Willow popping up. Their newfound caterpillar friend is more than a little amusing during this sequence too, breaking up the aftermath with sarcastic deadpan quips followed by a bit of ominous advice. He looks and acts like Disney’s Alice in Wonderland character, which I found to be a surprising yet fitting twist. I didn’t think they literally meant Wonderland at any point but a little bit managed to sneak in.
Things seem like they are only going to get more interesting for Willow and Marrak. They continue their journey and encounter what seem to be some pretty creepy winged creatures that Marrak later identifies as a flock of dreams. These dreams would previously fly between dimensions as their dreamers slept but since magic dried up, they’ve been trapped in this dimension trying to find new dreamers since they can’t return to the original hosts. It was a really interesting idea that initially seemed pretty frightening but turned out to be a fascinating magical theory behind the origin of dreams and how they work. I like that Parker isn’t just tossing out all the usual stack of magical species we’ve seen in the main Buffy titles or show, he’s thoughtfully building up the mythos with really neat details.
However implausible it may seem, shortly after their encounter with the dream flock, Willow and Marrak bump into one of Willow’s old friends. Let’s just say they’re happy to see them. Things seem to be looking up for a bit but of course, nothing is ever easy in the BtVS universe and there’s a disheartening twist at the end.
Jeff Parker has written another really fun issue, with more than a few laugh-out-loud moments. He balances the humour of the original BtVS series with that same tension that anything could happen at any moment that also made the TV show work so well. It’s a great second chapter for Willow, adding new twists, turns and characters while staying true to the original. Consider me hooked.