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Buffy Season 9 , Willow Wonderland #3

Time to write a review for Willow Wonderland part 3
- and once again I am a bit confused at where to start, and what aspect of the story needs
more attention. For starters , this part of the miniseries has the
greatest visuals so far. Some panels in the middle of the issue
definitely beg to be framed and put on a wall as a piece of art. And I
mean especially the panel with the Great Sea Anemone/ the Tree of Life.

Willow and her Memories

In the mean time I am not patient enough to go through with detailed
page-by-page listings of the plot and want to jump straight to the most
important implication of this issue : Willow is slowly loosing memories
of her life on Earth , which is being confirmed by several characters as
a side effect of her joining the Super Coven. So, I guess the
Caterpillar Guy's not so subtle advice at taking a supply of a Memory
Water is about to become of vital importance in the next issue.

This matter is first hinted at by Aluwyn speaking over the exhausted, sleeping Willow in the opening pages of the issue ('And in time the pain will stop... Sooner than you think').
That happens after Willow tries unsuccessfully to rip open another
portal to Earth, and keeps swinging the Scythe and tearing up reality,
but all she gets is a series of gashes to the weirdest dimensions there
are. Then the fact is confirmed by the Sea Witch (Gunther's distant
relative - I bet) who mentions that she herself barely misses the ocean
that she left behind, to which Willow replies that parts of her old life
are disappearing. Finally, Marrack crudely points out in the closing
panels of the issue that the Super Coven works as a magical opium den
because the witches keep each other doped around the clock with all the
magic that they produce as a collective.

Willow and the cute Cephalopods

There is also a neat parallel artfully woven in the last parts of the
issue and disguised a cute little marine adventure. Willow gets so
enamored with a flock of little flying orange octopuses - all stubby
little tentacles and huge soulful eyes - that she chases them all the
way to their place of habitation is vain effort to capture one for a
pet. Luckily for her, at some point she is joined by Aluwyn, her Sea
Serpent lover and mentor. Alas, the little critters congregate into one
Big Intelligent Collective, that still looks like a Cephalopod, only it
is Cthulhu-sized and about equally benevolent. After she and Aluwyn
force the beast to retreat, Willow vows to 'from now on only adopt the Elder Gods from shelters'.
While the encounter by itself is cute and humorous, the deeper
implication is that of the Collective Identity never being quite the sum
of its individual parts. Meaning that while each and every Witch in
Super Coven might have a unique and beautiful personality, and
inclination to be good and helpful to Willow, as a collective they can
be something quite ugly and dangerous.


But besides the dangerous implication of Willow loosing track of her
facilities and her quest - there are quite a few other important moments
in this issue that deserve special discussion. That mainly being
Willow's witchy visions, her relationship with Aluwyn, and with Marrack
the Profane, Exiled.

Willow and her Visions

Willow has two more important mystical visions in this issue , bringing
the total count up to five. The Memory Spring Vision, the Dream of
Doomed Runners, and the Glimpse of Faceless Dawn being the first three.

In this issue alone Willow is told by the Horned Lizard Witch to
meditate by the Goddess Gem, that she promptly calls Rock. But instead
of seeing Her True Life's Path , our Witch Extraordinaire sees something
of a devastated post-Apocalyptic Landscape ('A Harsh Place, like the End of the World'),
and that of a man who is 'steeped in magic' - whom she assumes to be
Giles, her teacher. Strangely enough, the next vision shows Willow
Marrack. And she immediately bristles at the idea of the Beast-man being
able to teach her anything. This little bit actually brings some more
credit to the speculations of Marrack being her old enemy Rack in
beastly disguise, but I won't bet anything important on it. Especially
since Marrack is definitely coming up with some important revelations of
his own by the end of the issue.

Willow's next Important Vision of the Day comes from the Great Sea
Anemone, which she touches at the insistence of the Sea Witch lady, who
enchants her with Breath Underwater spell and takes her down into the
great ocean. (I guess Harry Potter references will keep coming up this
season.) Here is nice piece of continuity with a vague reference to the
Willow and her Mother Earth Connection, Earth being represented as a
Tall Green Tree. But unlike ours, this world heart is liquid, ('A World with an Ocean at its Center' to quote from Willow), so its Spiritual Image is not a Tree but rather a Great Sea Anemone.

So here we have the panel with all the important symbols, that of : Dharmachakra (8 spokes representing the Noble Eightfold Path) , Venus (Womanhood), Ouroboros (Cyclicality, Renewal, Time Loop), and Yin-Yang (Shadow and Light). I am not a great authority on symbols and symbolism , but the combination is breathtaking, and inspiring.

And here comes perhaps the most important line of this installment : 'I
know there is good in everything. And evil, too. You need one to give
the other meaning. I don't mean to be rude but that's kind of a cliché.
No, you are right...not when you see it like this. You are saying even
my Dark Side... And... Who?'


I guess we can take this as a premonition or as a teaser. Myself I tend
to take it as a confirmation that nothing about Willow's possible Dark
Side Future is that simple. Meaning that her final path is anything but
straightforward evil , and is likely headed towards her Great Sacrifice
for the sake of saving reality. And the Ouroboros symbol together with
Dharmachakra only gives me more premonition of the time loop that will
need to be closed, and that of being the Noble Path rather than path of
the evil doom.

Willow and Aluwyn a.k.a. Saga Vasuki

This part of the story also leaves one with extremely melancholic
premonition for the continuation of the Willow and Aluwyn relationship.
Since it is the Buffyverse story the abundance of joyful happiness is
always a dire warning, and in this issue we have more than enough of
joyful reciprocity, cute cuddly moments, and great display of magic
compatibility between the two partners - meaning they are doomed for
sure to end in great tragedy and very soon. Willow is close enough to
Aluwyn to actually share her deepest fear - that of deluding herself
into her quest for restoring magic on Earth because of her fear of being
useless ( half hacker, half hostage) without her powers. Remarkably,
Aluwyn does not say anything on the matter of Willow's quest being
self-delusion - although she is given plenty of opportunity to convince
Willow of just that. Maybe she loves Willow too much to lie about this ,
or maybe she is not sure herself? I hope we shall find out by the end
of the miniseries. Instead Aluwyn comments on Willow being afraid of
her Darker Self out of fear of losing control - remarking that DW is/was
an epitome of Total Control and thus her being 'not true magic' as
magic is by nature 'unpredictable'. Since Marrack at some point calls
Saga 'Chaos whore' we now have a conflicting notion of Chaos
representing the side opposing the Total Control - which is also Evil.

On other hand, if my premonitions of the Fray future continuity prove to
be correct, than Willow is certainly not going to lose all contact with
Aluwyn, since somehow somebody will have to pass along all of the great
visions of the past - that of the Burning World, the Lost Scythe, and
the Portal to the Future being opened in NY by Twilight Ripples. There
is so far very little continuity with S8 implying that Aluwyn exists
outside the persistent time line. And we yet have to see her speak of
her own role in Twilight prophecy continuity - or if ever there was such
role.

In the mean time, Aluwyn is certainly being deceitful in her
none-disclosure of the Coven Collective Effect to Willow, and in piling
of various precious baits in her honey trap. But I also don't see her as
being anything but genuinely desperate in her desire to keep Willow for
herself.

Willow and Marrack the Profane.

Interestingly enough, Marrack's role in the miniseries has taken
somewhat of an unexpected turn in this issue. Surely, he starts this
storyline as his usual egocentric self, spitting insults and
misogynistic profanities. After Willow fails to open a portal back to
Earth - even thought she is casting her spell at the supposed side of
the 'font of magic' or Wellspring as Aluwyn calls it, Marrack tries to
grab the Scythe out if her hands and do the spell himself, while
berating her womanly ineptitude, and gets immediately zapped by Aluwyn
and the gang of enraged witches. They truly have a point - one does not
go on the rant about 'showing the Universe who's the boss' and berating
Willow for 'pitching fits just like a woman' in the middle of a crowd of
the most powerful witches of this World. So the Coven dumps him through
a portal out of their presence and into the wasteland, where he walks
away stomping on innocent lizards and berating the witches as 'animals'
and 'tramps'. I wonder if the devastated land 'the end of the world'
style that Willow saw in her vision was that same wasteland that Marrack
found himself in, or it was more of a general vision that of Giles (?)
at the end of our World ? Maybe both.

But the Beast Man proves himself to be more resourceful than anybody
expected from him - as he captures a lonely Nightmare flapping around,
and utilizes it to invade Willow's happy dream of flying around in the
naked. I want to say that the contrast between Willow's contented
post-sex with Aluwyn dream and the screeching Nightmare possessed by
Marrack is one of the more uncomfortable but impressive moments of the
issue.

Not only Marrack manages to completely jerk Willow out of her happy
dream, he also puts a seed of a doubt regarding the Coven Collective
into her mind. See my above speculations about memories of her life and
her quest being diluted and/or erased by the magical opium den effect.
He also claims to have found ancient signs in the desert - pointing out
to the alternative location of the 'font of magic' that Willow was
looking for, implying that Aluwyn lied about Wellspring being its true
location. I am seriously puzzled as to how this is possible - but maybe
the Wellspring is just a branch or a side stream of the true thing,
that is hidden in the wasteland. Or maybe Marrack is lying to Willow.

There are two more important panels that need to be mentioned before wrapping up this review.

• That of the Vision of the Four People that need Willow's help, which
Marrack manages ( I assume) to extract out of her head while invading
her dream and show her. These people are Xander, Buffy, Dawn and Angel,
in that order. Implying that they are the ones she is thinking of when
she thinks of her friends back on Earth and her world rotting away.

• And the panel where Willow is all awake and terrified and
disbelieving, looking at peacefully sleeping Aluwyn at her side, and the
Slayer Scythe , that reflects her own face. They are camping under a
big tree, and Willow's handbag is next to her, as a well as something
that appears to be a cup. I assume the bag contains the canteen with
Memory Water and that the cup is going to be used in the next issue.
Tags: btvs season 9, buffy comics, buffy s9, willow
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