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Joss Whedon – BtVS S8, Vol. 4: Time of Your Life

August 4, 2009

90. Time of Your Life by Joss Whedon, Karl Moline, Jeff Loeb, Andy Owens, Michelle Madsen, Georges Jeanty, Lee Loughridge, Jo Chen (2009)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season Eight, Vol. 4 (Issues #16-20 of the comic)

Read my review of:
– Vol. 1: The Long Way Home
– Vol. 2: No Future for You
– Vol. 3: Wolves at the Gate

Length: 136 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Started: 25 July 2009
Finished: 25 July 2009

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? More Buffy!

Buffy goes to the
future, but isn’t happy.
How’d it get so bleak?

Summary:Time of Your Life combines what’s previously happened in Season Eight with what happened in the Fray comics, and assumes you’ve read both – not much explanation is given for folks who haven’t. If you haven’t read Fray, put down this review, don’t even think about picking up Time of Your Life, and go read it. It’s short; I’ll wait.

Okay, everybody caught up? In Time of Your Life, Buffy is caught in a temporal disturbance that winds up transporting her to the future Manhattan, where she meets the Slayer Melaka Fray. Once there, she’s forced to wonder: What happened between her time and Fray’s time? How did they get from a world with hundreds of Slayers worldwide to only the single Slayer, with no sense of her history or heritage? What role did Twilight play in the creation of this future? And how – and why – is Buffy in the future, anyways? The arc mostly focuses on Buffy and Melaka’s stories, but back in the present day, we do get some nice moments from the rest of our regulars, including a magical attack on the Scotland fortress, and Dawn learning yet another reason why it’s a bad idea to mess around with a Thricewise. The volume rounds off with a one-off story involving Buffy dreaming she’s back in high school.

Review: Woohoohoo, boy, do things get *interesting* in this volume! I can’t really talk about how they get interesting without spoiling the major reveals, but suffice to say there are plenty of twists, turns, flip-flopping of sides, and familiar faces showing up (although not always in the context I had expected.) It’s not clear how (or if) the main plot is related to Twilight’s aims, and it still feels like we’re in the set-up phase of the season… many more questions (and “it’s a long story”s) are being presented than are being answered. Of course I’ve got faith that Joss knows where this whole thing’s going, and is going to tie the pieces together eventually, but it definitely makes me antsy waiting for the next installment.

The way this installment ties together the present-day Buffyverse with the bleak future mapped out in Fray makes me wonder if Joss actually had Season 8 in mind back in 2002/3, when Buffy S7 was airing and Fray was being published. There is a long way to go between the hundreds of Slayers that Buffy and Willow raised, and Fray’s world of half a Slayer, and it just seems to jive so well with Twilight’s goals that either it was planned long in advance, or else there’s some well-designed retconning in play. Stories involving time travel and mucking about with the future/past have to be done really carefully to avoid gaping plot holes, and I’m reserving final judgment on this one until I see how it all pans out, but so far, so good.

I think my least favorite part about this volume was the artwork. Judged on its own merits, it’s totally fine, but in the context of previous volumes, it’s not quite as good. Karl Moline, who also did the pencils for Fray, drew the majority of this volume, and it looks to me like he was trying to split the difference between the style of Fray and the style of the rest of Buffy Season 8. The result, however, is that a lot of the characters aren’t immediately recognizable, or that they’re only identifiable because of their eye-patch, or hair color, or clothing. There were even a few times (including one big reveal) where it took me several panels to figure out who a character was supposed to be. Regardless, though, Time of Your Life is a fascinating addition to the story, and now I can’t wait for the next volume to come out. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Buffy fans will be devouring this volume with or without my recommendation, I’m sure, but I wasn’t kidding: read Fray first!

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Other Reviews: Stella Matutina
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First Line: Bad day. Started off bad, stayed that way.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2009 6:21 pm

    The way this installment ties together the present-day Buffyverse with the bleak future mapped out in Fray makes me wonder if Joss actually had Season 8 in mind back in 2002/3, when Buffy S7 was airing and Fray was being published.

    I’ve been wondering the same thing. I know that ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL is basically what season six of Angel would’ve been, but I haven’t heard too much about BS8’s origins.

    • August 6, 2009 8:49 am

      For some reason I originally had in my head that Fray was written much earlier than it was – around Buffy S3. Then, when they got to S7, the writing team kind of went “Oh, crap” and S8 was consciously designed to bridge the gap. Now that I know the correct timing of things, though, I think it’s much more possible that it was planned all along.

  2. August 6, 2009 4:46 pm

    …I, um, I remembered that you said not to read Time of Your Life until after I had read Fray, and the bookshop didn’t have it so I didn’t pay any attention. And it was really confusing, and there was lots of future lingo. So I just wanted to drop by and let you know: you were TOTALLY RIGHT. Dammit.

    • August 7, 2009 12:41 pm

      Well, look at it this way… once you get to read Fray, then you can go back and re-read Time of Your Life and it’ll be like having a whole new installment, no waiting. :)

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