What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about the debut of Willow #1! Right now BOOM! Studios has impressed me with their handling of the Buffy franchise. This right here is what we look for. Things done that no one else has done with these books. For as crucial to the series as a character like Willow is, it has never made much sense why she couldn’t have gotten a book to herself, even if just a mini like this. That said, there are some big expectations for this book, because this is the time to genuinely emphasize the importance of the world of magic, and Willow’s place in it, to this universe.
How this book started was welcoming for the fact that it has been some time since Hellmouth, and it has been some time since anyone has seen Willow at all. We needed to work through what happened to her then, what she decided to do after stopping the Hellmouth, and what is going through her mind after. This was about half of the issue and I had no problem with it either. This was more than what they were willing to give us from Buffy. When her time came? It was as it normally was. Everything was bottled up, and even then the truth wasn’t something that she was communicating to herself either. So it was refreshing to have someone else who survived the Hellmouth experience who was a bit more open about what was going on upstairs. With that said, it also made a big difference that there was someone who at the same time was more open towards healing and figuring themselves out. If there’s anything which sticks out to you about the way they described this story, it was the chance to follow Willow trying to ‘help you prioritize your true self.’.
What I also found refreshing about this journey we have taken with Willow, is that we have come to understand what it means to feel alone from a different perspective. Again it was one thing for Buffy to always feel like there was no one to talk to, because before now there was only ever one Slayer at a time. Well, the same can be said for Willow. There’s only one witch in The Scoobies. Witches may be common too, but there aren’t many who can say they have been through what she has. That can make you feel just as lone without finding that right person to confide in.
That aside, what we were looking for from this first issue was how they would begin setting this story in motion. It was one thing for Willow to decide to take this journey, but it was also crucial for them to give us a reason to invest in it. We needed to get just a taste of what strangeness we have to look forward to. It may have not been much, but I would say we saw just enough to satisfy our curiosity in what Willow has gotten herself into. They didn’t lie that things are not as they seem either. Maybe it is too early for us to even understand what that fully means, but we do know that there are some wheels turning here which aren’t her own. So far I get the impression that they are trying to do for Willow as they did for the characters in Angel. That being setting them on a path. To where? We don’t know, but at the very least for Willow there is much more to try and figure out for yourself.
Now the interior art from the team of Natacha Bustos and Eleonora Bruni was solid work as a start. I say solid because for a story set in the Buffyverse, this was a surprisingly tame issue. You mostly had the characters and settings to focus on, and both they did satisfactory work on. From her hairstyle, to choice of attire, to her mannerisms through body language, this was Willow. Even better, they captured the somber state that says a lot more than words could for her. This is a version of Willow who is trying to find her smile again. Right now I’m going to hold out on my true first impression till I have seen them genuinely tap into the supernatural elements that you know we are in store for. When I said that the interior work was tame, I also meant that the colors were fairly grounded. I want to see what happens when Bruni lets loose. Hopefully that will happen in the next issue as Willow is exposed to more witches. Aside from that, the lettering does manage to grab your attention. The diary entry style that Jodi Wynne took towards poking through Willow’s thoughts was fitting.
Hellmouth was the starting point for a lot of characters, but none more than Willow. When you know already what the future holds for her, it makes you wonder how this franchise will get her to that point. It all starts with what Willow experiences in this limited-time series. Everything about this story is already a breath of fresh air. A new setting, new characters, and more unique situations to explore.