Willow™ – A Marvel Graphic Novel


Adapted by Jo Duffy, Bob Hall & Romeo Tanghal (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-87135-367-2

In the early 1980s Marvel led the field in the development of high quality original graphic novels: mixing out-of-the-ordinary Marvel Universe tales, new series launches, creator-owned properties, movie adaptations and the occasional licensed asset, such as the adaptation of the fantasy film favourite under review here.

Released in lavishly expansive packages (a squarer page of 285 x 220mm rather than the now customary elongated 258 x 168mm) which felt and looked instantly superior to the standard flimsy comicbook no matter how good, bad or incomprehensible the contents might be. With the season upon us and in the sure and certain knowledge that this family fantasy epic will be screened somewhere, I thought I’d point some comic fans in a direction they might not have travelled otherwise…

In a fully-formed fantasy scenario where any Tolkein fan or Dungeons and Dragons player will feel completely at home, the eternal war between Light and Darkness finds a few unconventional warriors when a messianic baby is born…

The graphic adaptation opens with the demonic sorceress Bavmorda’s attempts to kill the newborn which has been dispatched Moses-like down river, fetching up in the custody of Willow Ufgood, a good-hearted Nelwyn (don’t call them Hobbits – these littluns all wear shoes) who dreams of being a great sorcerer one day…

The human baby is clearly trouble, so the callously cautious and insular villagers want rid of it as soon as possible, dispatching Willow and a few true-hearted friends on a quest to deliver her to the first human they find.

However chaos, calamity and Bavmorda’s warriors follow the child everywhere and the first man they find is Madmartigan: a mighty warrior but also a lying, shiftless, drunken womaniser hanging from a cage on a gibbet…

Bavmorda’s army, led by her conflicted daughter Sorsha, has invaded the land and all the nobler humans – or “Daikini” – are busy fighting to save their lives, so when the pixie-like Brownies steal the baby, subsequently revealing her destiny as the Chosen One Elora Danan; for reasons inexplicable even to himself, Madmartigan joins Willow in a spectacular and death-drenched quest to free her destined guardian and mentor Fin Raziel…

Ultimately they both are driven by events and their own better natures to become the unlikeliest heroes in their world’s history: crucial components in the fight to end Bavmorda’s threat forever…

The final movie release was overly concerned with fight scenes and chases at the expense of plot and character (an understandable flaw which marred all three Lord of the Rings films too, in my humble opinion) but this classy and fun-filled ensemble-cast yarn manages to rattle along full-pelt with all-out fantastic battle-action and still find some room for extra helpings comedy and romance…

The movie Willow, from a screenplay by Bob Dolman, was conceived by George Lucas, directed by Ron Howard and released on May 20th 1988 in the United States, but if you’d bought and read this canny little tome before that (it was published at the beginning of that year) you’d have seen many extra pieces of shtick that sadly didn’t make it into the final cut…

An enticing, appetising change of pace for the usual comics crowd, this enticing sorcerous saga might well win a few fans amongst the dedicated Fights ‘n’ Tights fraternity too.
Willow: ™ and © 1988 Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL). All Rights Reserved.