The Buffyverse has not been kind to its leading witch as of late. With the world stripped of magic, Willow has found herself unable to tap into the forces that she has traditionaly found strength and power in. Without magic, the world is graying, and Willow sees a loss for not only herself and other followers of the arcane arts, but for humanity as a whole. Music has lost its pep, rainbows their color, and no one, not even children, wants to draw anymore.
In an effort to restore this lost element to the world, Willow sets out on a quest to find and bring the magic back from wherever it has been hiding. Finding herself in the strange, yet strangely familiar, world of Wonderland, Willow allies with Marrak, a fellow conjurer, in a hunt for the source of magic power.
Comic Book Resources spoke with Dark Horse Comics editor Scott Allie about the developing story of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow - Wonderland," a five-issue miniseries following Willow on her quest. Allie spoke about the progress Willow has made so far in her quest, explained the reasoning behind Christos Gage joining Jeff Parker as the series' co-writer, artist Brian Ching's giant monster designs and the overall plans for Joss Whedon's creations in the months ahead.
CBR News: Willow has found herself on this magic voyage through Wonderland -- what sort of challenges will she find herself facing as the story moves forward?
At the end of her journey, Willow will continue on in the story of "Buffy Season 9."
Scott Allie: At the end of "Season Eight," Buffy did something that led to the destruction of magic -- the end of magic in the world -- and Willow has been kind of depressed and miserable ever since. She had to get away from her friends in order to go on this vision quest to figure it out. So, she actually disappeared after issue #5 of Buffy, almost a year ago. She was just missing in action -- she wasn't in the books at all for a while.
Then she popped up in "Angel and Faith" and revealed her plan to try to get to another dimension in order to try to figure out how to create a pathway to try to bring magic back to the world. Now, in her series, "Wonderland," she's gotten to another world, and she has to figure out how to bring magic back. That's the story that Jeff [Parker] and [artist] Brian Ching are telling. Willow has hooked up with this character Marrak, an animalistic-looking demon character that she's traveling around with. He also wants to get back to Earth with his magic powers restored, in part because he, like a lot of other people, thinks that with magic generally missing from the Earth, if he only has a little bit and could get back here, he could really be in control of things.
Willow continues her journey with this guy Marrak, [but] there's going to be a familiar face popping up really soon. That winds up taking the story in another direction, separating Willow from this kind of creepy monster guy that we've hooked her up with. Brian Ching has been designing great monsters for "Willow." We don't always get to do a lot of big monsters in Buffy -- it tends to be more down to earth, personal, face to face sort of conflict -- but since we're in another world, we really wanted to let Brian loose, and he's designed some really cool things.
I was struck by how quickly Willow puts her trust in Marrak. This took me by surprise, knowing her history.
There's always a lot of friction between them. They never totally settle in with each other, and Willow expresses doubts about this guy. My take on it, and we talked about it a lot, is that her judgment is clouded because her focus is so singularly focused on this idea of bringing magic back. The fact that she runs into a potential ally in her quest somewhat overcomes her better judgment. She does trust him too easily, and it's partly because she's grateful to have somebody. She's in a strange place she's never been before, and she doesn't really know anything, and she sort of not-so-wisely goes along with this guy. They continue, in issue #2, to talk about their uneasy alliance.
Christos Gage, who also writes "Angel & Faith," will be joining Jeff Parker on writing duties for "Willow: Wonderland" beginning with issue #3. Does that change the pacing or the direction of the story?
Jeff wasn't in on the earliest talks about "Season Nine." He wasn't there at the writer's summit at Joss' house, so there's a degree to which he wasn't dialed into the whole thrust of what we're doing. And, as we were trying to really weave together the plot lines of the "Spike" miniseries, the "Willow" miniseries, "Angel & Faith" and "Buffy," it became useful to start talking to Chris and to get him involved. The overall direction of the story is still the thing that Jeff initially pitched and outlined for us: the major events and the major action is still all what Jeff set up.
Particularly Willow and Spike -- both exist in one title, then they get their own miniseries, then they go into another title. They move around across "Season Nine" quite a bit, and it's a trick to make their journey, as it were, a consistent arc when you're working with multiple writers. There's a lot of work in terms of making sure that everybody writes Willow similarly, but she's also changing as she's moving from writer to writer, so it's really quite a trick. Part of bringing Chris in was to smooth out the Willow that he was writing in "Angel & Faith," where she showed up, and the Willow that goes through some changes in this miniseries before going back to San Francisco and the story that Andrew Chambliss is writing.
The broad strokes of it and the major events are the things that Jeff set up. Some of the more nuanced character details are where Chris contributes the most.
So, we can look forward to these miniseries all folding back into what develops in the primary "Buffy" and "Angel & Faith" storylines?
Absolutely. I'm very pleased with how we managed Willow's transition from her five-issue miniseries back into Buffy's book. There are all these weird, interesting challenges of just the -- the clothing -- making sure that what Willow's wearing at the end of her fifth issue matches what she wears in the issue that she first shows back up in Buffy's book, and making sure that when Andrew Chambliss first writes Willow reappearing in the Buffy book, she's in the same sort of state of mind that she was in when she wrapped up her own book. There was some challenge there, but yeah, Willow folds back into the main action for the "Buffy" climax. Spike, when he wraps up his miniseries, will pop up in the "Angel & Faith" book and get directly involved in the action there.
The one trick that hasn't worked out perfectly for us is that we were careful in how we worked out Spike's departure from his five-issue miniseries and his arrival in "Angel & Faith." Now, because of some artistic scheduling problems, the fifth issue of Spike is going to be late. If it's too late, it'll come out after he's reappeared in "Angel & Faith." I don't think that's going to happen but, you know, that would be unfortunate. That's one of the dangers of managing all these different artists and trying to do these really synchronized stories.
Finally, what other projects are cooking in the Buffyverse?
We're doing these big "Library Editions," these big, hardcover editions of "Buffy," and we just put to bed the fourth volume with the last ten issues of "Season 8." [Artist Georges Jeanty] got us his notes on all his artwork and everything. It's a joy to put that stuff together a really nice, big sketchbook-sized section where the artist gets to really talk about his process. We were just wrapping that up today!
"Willow - Wonderland" #2 goes on sale December 5. The "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8" Library Edition Vol. 4 is out March 20th, 2013.