I have never gotten a Netgalley that excited me as much as this one. I am one volume behind in my Buffy comics, but they very generously gave me a copy of Willow: Wonderland, the spinoff miniseries in which Willow takes Buffy's scythe an travels interworldially (word? no.) to try to bring back magic. I got to read it! I am squeeing!
It's all out of order; this story steps right out of Buffy Season 8, or rather the very beginning of Season 9. Basically, the source of all magic has been suddenly (and awkwardly, but that's for another review) from Earth. This has had some awful side effects, and eventually Willow sets out to get the magic back. This involves leaving Earth and traveling through other worlds.
I think Willow is my favorite character in the Buffyverse. I love how sweet she is, and how her sweetness does not mean she's not also mean or angry. I love that she's powerful, and that her power corrupts her and she has to fight it. I love that she's brilliant and funny and sensual. I have a total crush on Willow.
The best thing about Wonderland is Willow. The strongest part of a lot of these comics is that you get to come back to these beloved characters. So many things about the comics don't really align with the TV show/s, but the flashes of pure Willow--her quirky way of talking, her approach to poking around for the meaning of a situation--are the best part here, by far.
The things she learns about herself--after the whole magic addiction, Dark Willow, recovery storyline--are a nice touch, anchoring a very human, if not surprising. The trials she goes through and the people she meets are exciting and fantastical, but they're pretty far removed from the Buffyverse.
I guess that's my takeaway from this--it's a pretty good other-realms-quest fantasy story, but there's not a lot of BtVS here. I'd say there's not a lot of Joss Whedon, and that might be true, but a lot of other parts of the comic franchise are pretty far from Joss but closer to what I love. In a lot of ways, this felt as much like a good episode of Charmed as it did like something from its own universe.
Speaking of which, damn, wasn't the millennium a great time for girl power fantasy TV?
Wonderland was the fix I was looking for, but it wasn't the mainline I really wanted. I'm so grateful that this franchise lives on in comics; I hope they're able to hold onto a lot of the integrity that made it so affecting.