Saturday, July 05, 2008

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x16: "Time Of Your Life Part 1"

Written by Joss Whedon
Artwork by Karl Moline

Buffy (re Fray): “Bad day. Started out bad, stayed that way. Starting with, not chronologically but in order of immediate importance … who the hell is this person? Also: where am I? Where’s everyone else? And seriously, what is up with Dawn?”

Okay so the meeting of Buffy Summers and Meleka Fray has been advertised for quite some time now but after months of waiting it’s finally here. First thing is first, I’ve never read Fray so all I know is that she’s a future slayer with the scythe in her possession.

Because of that, I’m expecting this arc to be something of an education for me. Given the amount of stuff I review on a regular basis, I wish I had actually read a few of the Fray comics prior to getting this but all going well, maybe I’ll catch up on her story some other time.

The cover for this issue saw Buffy and Fray doing battle with their scythes as they were heading for a harsh landing. It’s nice that the firs two pages also have the same thing. Buffy doesn’t know where the hell she is or who Fray is also. Fray must feel the same way given that she doesn’t hold back in attacking Buffy.

As soon as Buffy raised the question about Dawn, the girl gets something of a pain. With the way her hands are clutching her stomach it’s almost as if something or someone has stabbed her. She also looks like she’s about to take a tumble as well.

Prior to her own time travel, Buffy is having something of a relaxed moment with Xander and Willow. The three of them are sitting down; chowing on take out and there’s a funny moment where Xander mocks Buffy for talking with her mouth full. It did affect the dialogue she was saying.

It seems Willow’s snake demon friend has some vital information and the gang have to head to New York in order to find out about it. The way Willow learns about it is familiar but Buffy can’t resist chiding her friend about the mystery demon. Xander also gets into the spirit of things by trying to get some details as well.

Willow is a tad evasive but the information does seem to relate to the scythe being the power source and given that the last arc saw vampires trying to use this source to revert slayers into ordinary girls, it’s interesting that our latest arc is continuing on that particular strand as well.

It’s been hinted all season through the government and Twilight that Buffy and Willow made a cardinal error in activating so many slayers and there’s also a rather uncomfortable moment when Willow stresses the importance of her message by alluding to Renee’s death.

Xander attempts to brush it off due to the fact that danger is always about but you can see that he’s still hurting from it. If it’s any consolation, he does seem genuinely willing to consider talking to his friends about his feelings but he also reverts to jokey form and teases Willow some more about the snake demon.

As for Dawn, guess what the writers have decided to do her now. If fifteen issues of being a giant weren’t bad enough for the girl, now she has to deal with being a Centaur. You do wonder what Joss is trying to achieve with Dawn this season. As much as I was hoping for her to not be a giant, I don’t know if I’m keen on the idea of Centaur Dawn for another few issues.

On a somewhat better, at least three villains make their long awaited returns – Twilight, Amy and Warren. The three of them are working together to further wreck havoc on the Scoobies but Warren’s penchant for being an asshole also means that he doesn’t take too kindly to Twilight not being impressed with him.

Warren’s pretty convinced that his big bomb is going to make all the right kinds of noise and while Amy’s dumb enough to support, Twilight really doesn’t care much. Here’s hoping at some point Warren and Twilight engage in a brawl where Twilight emerges as the winner.

Given that we’ve had to wait a while for three to return, it’s a shame that we only get one scene between them but at the same time, it’s a relief that they are also involved in this arc. Is there any chance that they also might be responsible for Buffy’s little time travel towards the end?

As for Buffy and Willow, first off all they lose points for the lack of concern about Dawn’s latest transformation. I know Willow’s in high demand nowadays but would it kill her or Buffy to find a way to revert Dawn to human form or at least appeal to Kenny’s better side to do it?

On the plane the girls go over a couple of issues. Despite her joking, Willow’s still very disappointed that Buffy reverted to bank robbery in order to fund the slayers and Buffy is pretty mysterious herself when she tells Willow that she has a prior engagement.

There’s also a moment when the both of them admit to not knowing what they’re walking into. I don’t know about anyone else but I’m intrigued as to how this is going to unravel. What other dangers besides the government, rogue slayers, Japanese vampires, Amy, Warren and Twilight can Joss Whedon inflict on the gang?

Meanwhile Willow gets something of a stirring welcome when Kennedy picks her up at the airport. The two of them act really flirty and pretend that they didn’t really miss each other. It’s cute, fun, light and a nice way to reintroduce Kennedy as well. Plus there’s humour at Buffy’s expense.

Buffy might be a slayer but even she can’t handle carrying so many bags, choosing appropriate attire for New York. Even more fun is her overexcitement of travelling in a limo which Willow has no problem in pointing out to Kennedy. Of course Kennedy isn’t all that bothered about Buffy.

Violet (or Vi) on the other hand is stepping nicely as a lead slayer. If the likes of Satsu can inherit a squad it makes sense that Violet would get a leadership role as well. Plus Kennedy is way too flighty to lead a gang anyway. Violet starts talking about mystical turf wars that are happening more often.

Of course when Violet gets into the magic stuff and plays on the word “think” a little too much, it’s Willow who has to step in and offer a further explanation. With references to anomalies and deadlocking, a part of me keeps getting reminded of Doctor Who but that seems to be happening a lot when reviewing Buffy comics.

Slightly more fun is Buffy and Kennedy talking during Willow’s lecture. When Buffy alludes to Willow’s smartness, Kennedy thinks Buffy’s hot for her. Oh please, Buffy’s never shown an attraction to Willow and I really don’t think she’s going to now. Besides Willow told Buffy that she wasn’t her type.

Still it’s interesting that Kennedy is quick to voice her opinions on Buffy’s sexuality. The girl only knows what Willow knows and doesn’t give Buffy much in the way of a chance to explain herself. That being said if Buffy is still in ‘experimental phase’, does that mean another female love interest for the slayer?

Dawn on the other hand is more worried about her ass being huge and the urge to eat. With magic causing her new look; it’s natural for her to pissed off right now. I don’t know if I’d even class it as whining because at the end of the day, Dawn has a right to be annoyed with the way things have been for her.

She shouldn’t have cheated on Kenny but he has taken things a bit too far and the fact that the gang aren’t making a harder effort to help her is annoying. Even Xander isn’t that supportive. He’s too busy thinking being a Centaur is amazing and effectively tells Dawn not to whine. I’m siding with Dawn; the girl has got good reason to be furious right now.

As for Warren, he should be happy to know that his little bomb has made the big noise. It basically blew up the castle with Xander being unable to save anyone or anything vital. Without stating the obvious, Warren really has put the Scoobies in something of a bad position.

Things also aren’t that great in New York either. Kennedy doesn’t like that things are too quiet and even Willow has to admit that something isn’t right. Both of them mention the scythe and Buffy as well as something in the future not being particularly good.

Almost to prove that the girls are right in their fears Buffy’s barely there for a second and then she disappears. In her place is one very annoyed demon that wastes no time in attacking Kennedy.

The issue then ends with Buffy travelling through time, winding up in the future and meeting Meleka Fray. The future slayer automatically assumes that the monster in our time is using a glamour of Buffy and then proceeds to attack her. Given that Buffy has no idea who Fray actually is, she’s really going to have use her smarts to get out of this one.

Also in “Time Of Your Life Part 1”

The cover for this issue has Buffy and Fray fighting with their scythes after leaping off a building. Unless one of them can fly, they’re both screwed.

Xander (re snake demon): “Okay explain how you know that. Slowly, with many visuals.”
Buffy: “What you guys think I’m in charge just cause I can hit things?”
Xander: “Only mostly.”
Willow: “And moving on.”

A Goth vampire spoke to Willow in tongues. The snake demon used her to tell Willow whatever danger is coming.

Xander (to Buffy/Willow): “I appreciate the eggshells but …Renee’s dead. I’m dealing with it. By myself. I’m not being a guy; I’ll ask for help if I need it but we can’t turn war councils into awkward pausathons just because I lost someone close.”

Xander: “Wuzzis? Shrunk? Whuh?”
Buffy: “Yay! Dawnie, yay?”
Dawn: “Neigh.”

I noticed that the series of clouds behind Dawn’s first look as a Centaur almost look like a Seahorse.

Warren: “Look copperhead, we busted our asses on this baby and it will do the job.”
Twilight: “It will do it’s part, I’m sure but it’s only a small part in a grand scheme.”
Warren: “Hey, I have no skin. Which means I don’t have your cute little sunset symbol carved in it. I’m in this for myself and myself is telling you right now that this baby is going to bring the noise.”

Willow: “More largess from your mysterious benefactor who is actually you stealing things?”
Buffy: “You know, we do have some legitimate funding.”
Willow: “Ah, I’m just ribbing’.”
Buffy: “’Kay. Colour me ribbed.”

Interesting things with those quotes – does Amy have Twilight’s symbols carved onto her and what legitimate funding does Buffy have?

Kennedy: “Hey, Red. Didn’t miss you.”
Willow: “Didn’t even think about you.”
Kennedy: “Kinda forgot you.”
Willow: “And I would know you from?”

Buffy (to herself): “I’m the King Kong of the world.”
Willow (to Kennedy): “She’s never been in New York. Or apparently, a limo.”

Out of all the characters, artist Karl Moline captured Xander, Warren, Twilight, Dawn and Kennedy the best.
Kennedy: “Hey grubby paws off, lez-faux.”
Buffy: “What? What have you – who said I.”
Kennedy: “I love that you’re in your experimental phase cause I really kinda thought you were a phobe but you put the moves on Red and I’ll kill you like a chicken.”
Buffy: “Hamnoo?”

Xander: “You really don’t know how awesome you look? You’re a frikkin’ centaur. Majestic creature of legend! I’m actually jealous.”
Dawn: “I sleep standing up. I pee a crazy amount of pee. I want hay – I actually want to eat hay. I don’t feel like a majestic creature of legend. I feel like a freak.”

There were some ads in this comic for DVD releases of Witchblade and Birds Of Prey. I kinda liked the latter series but I wouldn’t be tempted to splash out on it though.

Kennedy: “It’s about the scythe.”
Willow: “Yes.”
Kennedy: “And Buffy has the scythe.”
Willow: “Yes.”
Kennedy: “But we don’t have Buffy.”

Fray: “This is toy! You think you can spin with a half-coi glam of a slayer been dust more than two cen? You’re lower than a lurk.”
Buffy: “Uh … English?”

This was the third issue in a row that had comments about The Doctor/Rose Tyler appearance in “No Future For You”. What was that abandoned project of Joss Whedon an Brian K. Vaughn. Was it Doctor Who related?

As starts go, “Time Of Your Life Part 1” is a tantalising start to a potentially brilliant crossover story. Given that Buffy’s stuck in the future, Warren’s managed to blow up the Scoobies’ HQ and that there’s something evil afoot, it’s hard not to get enthused by this arc.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Kennedy is way too flighty to lead a gang anyway."

Except that she is leading one. Willow tells Buffy "I sent an advance team", and when Kennedy meets them at the airport, she tells Willow, "We're working with the Manhattan squad on security and housing, but my group's taking point on the op."

Also, when "Faith go boom", the other Potentials would have headed for the hills; it was Kennedy who took command and insisted that they find Faith, Kennedy who held the survivors together and almost got them out before they were ambushed by the turok-han, (she *did* get them out to where Buffy could get to them in time), and it was Kennedy who grabbed a halberd and stepped between the turok-han and the Potentials, nearly getting herself killed trying to protect the others. "Flighty"? Nah.