Gang, this is a heavy issue! We’re talking “The Body” meets “Restless” here. After sacrificing a piece of her soul to save her best friend, it’s only fitting that Willow has to grapple with the grave consequences and implications of giving up an integral part of herself. Jordie Bellaire handles Willow’s fractured psyche in a delightfully nuanced way, where duality is not necessarily the same thing as separate. Long-time readers of Dark Horse’s canonical continuation may muse that some of this is pretty familiar ground, but for new readers or fans who didn’t keep up, this is probably going to come across as a more modern take on an iconic character arc for Willow. While much of the mythology and metaphysics of this reboot have seemed pretty familiar so far, Bellaire’s handling of Xander’s fate indicates that she’s not afraid to mix in new elements. While I understand that explaining metaphysics can sometimes feel like an infodump, I really hope that we’ll see Bellaire expound on some of her additions soon, because the Xander plot point still feels a tad undercooked. It’s a minor quibble from me, as the majority of this issue is beautifully written. It’s also a bit of a subversion of the original series, taking the “everyman” title away from Xander.
Sas Milledge joins the art crew in this issue, illustrating the bulk of the pages. It’s not an uncommon practice to use different artists to visually distinguish between two narratives. As such, Milledge’s work is distinctly different from David Lopez’s, but the change is not jarring. As I’ve already discussed Lopez’s work on earlier issues, I’ll be discussing Milledge’s contribution here. I found some of her dreamscape work to be beautifully rendered and colored. The climax of Willow’s dream/nightmare is pretty intense, and there is a really visceral energy about it, which I think really elevates the text. Speaking of which, the lettering by Ed Dukeshire will probably be the unsung hero of this issue, so let’s just sing his praises here. Dukeshire’s lettering is totally amazing here, and the aforementioned climax owes much of its intensity to his skills.
In my review for the previous issue, I said, “This actually feels like classic Buffy but with some refreshing new ideas mixed in…” I think that this issue truly earns that praise.
Overall: Things wrap up quite neatly, setting the stage for the big upcoming event. The final panel is loaded with possibilities, tying Drusilla, Joyce, and Willow together with just one artifact.
Creative Team: Jordie Bellaire (writer), David Lopez and Sas Milledge (artists), Raul Angulo and Sas Milledge (colorists), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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