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Not the strongest volume, despite great potential...
on 7 July 2009
This volume contains the 4 parter story 'Time of Your Life' and the one-shot spin-off 'After These Messages...We'll Be Right Back!'
'Time of Your Life' sees Buffy and Willow heading to New York as our witchy friend has been receiving messages of a 'time ripple' nearby and suggest they check it out. As a result, Buffy is sent to the future with a demon taking her place in the present day. In the future, Buffy witnesses a world where vampires (or 'Lurks' they're now called) are running wild and only 1 slayer now lives by the name of Fray. But Buffy's sudden appearance in the future is not accident, the 'Mad Woman', working with a vampire named Harth, has brought her here for a reason - can Buffy stop this big bad and get back to her time?
This arc crosses over with Joss Whedon's other comic book series; Fray, a series about a lone-slayer set in the far future. I personally haven't read it but I managed to follow on and into her world in this book easily, but obviously those who have read it would get more out of this cross over than I did.
Whilst the crossover was a nice idea and the 'big bad' was one I've been looking forward to for a long time (fans of season 6 would feel the same); I feel the arc was slightly lacking. Mostly due to unexplained details; such as the motives of the big bad, why Buffy was brought back and why her going back to the present will be a bad thing for Fray. I could go on, but I just feel that with such a great story, Joss would've given more time for dialogue and development, instead I felt that every time I turned the page I've skipped one as everything was moving quite fast. I think this is where a TV series/movie is a stronger medium in some ways compared to a comic; yes Joss would not have had the budget to create the futuristic world as effectively but it would've given the arc more time for story development and to become more emotionally involved with the characters.
'After These Messages...We'll Be Right Back!' is a throwback to the 'never left the pilot' Buffy Animated Series and to the old faces of the cast we know and love. Buffy has a dream where she is sent back to her first year at Sunnydale High, she takes the opportunity to hang with the old 'scooby gang' before she wakes up in reality.
The art takes a totally new style to showcase the 'animated' side and it works with the kooky story. It was nice to see how much our favourite characters have grown over the years. From Xander's skateboard riding to Principle Snyder's stern attitude - it makes you yearn for the animated series and early BtVS episodes all over again. Again, no reason is given to this spin off, but for a one-shot quirky comic I don't think it needs it.
Overall the volume had a lot of promise but due to some unexplained details, fast pace and failure to reach potential make this a weaker volume. I hope that details are given in future volumes as I would like gaps to be filled. Recommended if you plan to continue the season 8 comic series, if you've never touched a season 8 Buffy comic - start at `Long Way Home'.