Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow #2
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Natacha Bustos
The first issue of this Willow solo-series by the Eisner award-winning writer, Mariko Tamaki really left me feeling impressed. It nailed the humour and the dialogue of the show and felt like a good representation of the character. Now the second issue has been released and I’ve been excited to see where Tamaki would take Willow’s tale. After reading it, I have to admit this issue left me with slightly mixed feelings. Let’s delve into it.
I want to make it clear that this isn’t a bad issue. I guess I was just expecting more to happen. The general idea of this issue is pretty simple. Willow wakes from a nightmare about her friends and slowly starts realising something is off about the town of Abhainn. After buying a sweater and having another meeting with Aelara, Willow comes to a realisation about the town. I don’t want to go into any further details since it’d be spoiling the whole issue.
Part of my issue may just have been that the first issue was amazing. Great art, comedy, the dialogue and it seemed like most of the setup for this story had been done. This issue feels like more setup but the issue is very subtle about most other aspects aside from that. Tamaki continues to show that she gets this character. Willow feels like she does in the show. It’s so good that you can practically hear Alyson Hannigan speaking as you read her dialogue. The comedy is scaled back though and it’s mostly shown through how Willow reacts to things like her new sweater. The horror elements are more subtle too. They’re mostly limited to Willow’s nightmare, the use of crows, and hints that Aelara may not be what she seems. It’s not a bad thing and helps build suspense. I just expected more to happen.
Still, the writing here does continue to be great. I’ve already praised how Tamaki writes Willow but the story deserves praise here too. Tamaki manages to make a simple tale feel creepy. Most of this issue is simply Willow wandering the town while talking about how creepy and cold it feels. The writing still makes everything feel suspenseful just through Willow’s thoughts as she walks about. It’s to the point where you’re reading as Willow simply buys a sweater and you’re wondering what will go wrong. Mariko really does a fantastic job in that respect. I’ve also got to praise how she develops the mystery of Aelara. She went from a mysterious character in the first issue to a far more creepy one in this issue. I also loved the twist ending. I won’t spoil it but I’d expected a more generic horror story and this issue legitimately surprised me.
The art here isn’t as adventurous as the first issue. Part of this is because this issue is limited to one location. Most of the art is Willow exploring this unusual town that she’s spent the night in. There’s also fewer nightmare sequences but what is here is visually stunning. The locations and characters are all drawn extremely well and Bustos does a great job on the facial expressions. There’s also a gorgeous page of Willow examining a flower and another great piece of art on the penultimate page. Natacha Bustos really is an incredible artist.
The lettering, I have to admit isn’t as impressive as the previous issue but it’s still done well. Willow is no longer writing anything so we don’t get the unique lettering or narration boxes to represent that writing. The pink narration boxes are still there though and they continue to look fantastic. There’s also still the contrast in lettering between the thoughts and dialogue which I complimented in my issue one review. One thing I did notice that I want to praise though is the minimal use of sound effects. There’s only actually one use of them in this entire issue. It’s a “CAW!” effect used to bring attention to the crows watching Willow. This is an important aspect of the horror elements in this story. The avian imagery also plays a big part in Willow’s opening nightmare. This single sound effect ends up doing a lot to highlight that.
Overall, this was another very good issue in the new Willow solo series. The first issue may have left me expecting something more blatantly scary and action-packed but this is good. Issue two takes a subtle approach in building the terror and suspense, I’m excited to see where it goes. I’d definitely pick this up if you enjoyed the first issue. If you haven’t and you’re into magic and horror comics then I’d say you should pick up both issues. This series has been incredible so far and I can’t wait to read more of Willow’s adventures.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow #2
This issue may not be as strong as its predecessor but it's still a great comic. Mariko Tamaki writes the character of Willow perfectly and she creates a really suspenseful, creepy issue here. The story of the issue might not seem particularly exciting and might even be considered a slight let-down after how the first issue ended but Tamaki does a great job using this as a setup issue for future issues and there's some nice little twists throughout the tale. The art and lettering continue to be great, even if this issue isn't as inventive as the first issue in these regards. Willow #2 was a good read and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.