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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2009
I'm a huge BtVS fan and own the whole TV series on DVD. I've really like most of the Season 8 comics to date. Volume 4, if you are collecting the graphic novel format versus the individual issues, is the weakest of collection so far. While I did enjoy seeing the Fray characters again, it felt like more of a stunt that a real plot point. The Willow portion also felt unsatisfying as well, sorry its hard to explain while trying to be vague to avoid major spoilers.

The side plot of Dawn, was, in reality, kind of stupid. I appreciate that they wanted to add some more fantastical elements that cover ground they could do in a TV show with a moderate budget, but this was beyond the spirit of the series. The "there are consequences to relationships" is very Joss, but the results here feel like fodder for a few quips and jokes rather than a solid allegory.

So while I'll tune into for another volume, my passion for this version of BtVS is waning and will be gone without a solid set of issues and some new meaty hooks to build my desire and suspense for a volume 6.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2009
I was loving this series and the last trade (Vol. 3) was my favorite. So, my expectations for this were high. Sadly, they were dashed quickly. This tale of time travel and forest creatures fell so short is was depressing. The future slayer story line was hard to follow (so much so that I wondered if I was missing pages), the dialogue was confusing, and the art was atrocious. The reveal of who Buffy met in NYC was lost on me because the art wasn't clear as to who it was. So disappointing. This entire story seems pointless and Dawn being a Centaur is beyond annoying. Big step down. :(
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2009
I'll be honest, the only decent thing about this item is that the Buffy/Fray conflict has an okay storyline that help furthers Fray's story arc more-so than Buffy's. The stories have really started going downhill for the Season 8 comic, and lacks any sort of foundation. It is as though the writers are trying to stretch the story arc to its limits, and gradually diluting any sort of characterization along the way.

I suggest only getting this set simply for the Fray story arc and the issue that gives a little shout-out to the animated series. Otherwise, skip it and just buy them individually.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2009
Having read the first five reviews, I have to say my piece. Season 8 has been better than any of the TV seasons because Whedon's stories are no longer limited by filming budget. After Buffy's trip to Japan in "Wolves at the Gate", the next trip that would have been impossible on TV was to take Buffy to the future. The story has been criticized for being nothing more than a needless excuse for Buffy to meet (and fight) Fray. Is it really? The first 3½ pages disorient in a good way by throwing readers straight into the action before Whedon moves to a flashback sequence where we see how Buffy got onto that rooftop. Plus, he gives us a mystery of Dawn's transformation and the sudden switch of places in time between Buffy and the monster from the future, before ending the first episode in one of those wonderful Whedon cliffhangers. Then, the second episode starts, logically, by showing us how Fray got onto that rooftop. Whedon throws us a red herring when Buffy and Fray's antagonist in the future is described as "the dark-haired one" who has "lived for centuries, speaks in riddles and strange voices." This brings to mind a certain Vampire lady... Taking advantage of the fact that comics don't (usually) have sound, Whedon can even allow the "dark-haired one" to speak without the readers not being able to identify her by recognizing her voice. Clever. Whedon juggles the future storyline with the present day storyline, in which the assault on the Slayers' castle base drives Buffy's forces on the run, once again in a situation where the bad guys seem to be winning. This recalls the most dire situations our heroes have found themselves in the previous seasons while also being completely different. Then he ends the second episode with yet one Whedon-class revelation of the antagonists identity. And then the plot starts to unfold... By the time the fantastically cinematic double-climax (of present and future storylines) comes, Whedon still manages to find the time for yet another revelation and ends the story by having Buffy make a heart-breaking decision without really knowing why she has to do it. In the end, the readers also don't know why, which leaves us wanting more. Whedon has done this before and the mysteries have always been eventually solved satisfactorily. Just because Whedon does not yet tell us why all this happened does not mean it's not good storytelling. We are not seeing the big picture yet. That said, Whedon's dialogue is of the usual excellent quality and Moline's art *really* has evolved since Fray first came out. This is as worthy a mini-arc as any previous ones in Season Eight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2012
The fourth installment in the 8th season of Buffy takes you hundreds of years into a much darker New York City in the future. Here Buffy encounters a slayer named Melaka Fray. Dark Willow also returns. What is odd is that Melaka is the only slayer... the only slayer who also has a brother that is a vampire leader, Harth. While Buffy originally works alongside Melaka she finds herself alone, Maleka having sided with the evil Willow after promising her that their world would end if Buffy continued to live. In the end Buffy makes a very difficult decision to get back home to the present. A decision that could have repercussions in the future (my own personal opinion).

On the fun side, if time traveling doesn't give you enough of that supernatural element, our favorite little sister Dawn is no longer a Giant but a Centaur. Also, another character makes a return when Buffy and Willow travel to New York City: Willow's girlfriend, Kennedy.

A few questions come up while reading this installment... what is Dark Willow's purpose in the future? Did she trick Maleka in telling her that the world would end if Buffy lived? If so, why? What will happen to Buffy's and present day Willow's relationship now? What is going to happen to Dawn? Will Xander fall in love with someone new now that Renee is dead?

So far, out of the installments, this one gives you more questions, all of which I believe will be crucial to the future of the Scooby Gang and their battle against Twilight. And once again the graphics are amazing and Joss Whedon has not lost his touch in making sure that Season 8 is staying true to all that is Buffy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2011
Buffy and Willow head to NYC to find out the story behind the scythe's power and what it can really do. And Dawn has now shrunk down to normal size, kinda of. Down to centaur size at least. But as soon as Buffy and Willow are gone the missiles hit the land and the castle is destroyed and alien shapes come out to play. Meanwhile Buffy has been sucked into the future, having exchanged places with a demon. And she must battle her way back to the present against an old friend.

Remember how at least once or twice in the season their were shows that just didn't really fit into the overall arching storyline? They were just kinda of a break from the normal? Yeah...that's what this feels like. Yes the enemy shows up and destroys the castle, but it's just another battle. And while Buffy's sojourn into the future is interesting and has a rather shocking ending, it doesn't feel like much will come of it. Perhaps I'm wrong about where this will lead, but there just isn't the energy and vitality with the previous issues. And the artwork? Yeah...they've changed story artists and it just isn't a good fit. Buffy looks and feels more like a happy cheerleader and the characters have a sharper more cartoony feel to them.

Overall its a decent enough volume, but it doesn't have the same vitality or energy that the other volumes do. I haven't read the other issues yet, but it almost feels like you could skip this one and still figure out what happened.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2011
Time of Your Life is the hands down the best story arc of Season Eight. One reason it works so well is that, once again, Joss Whedon delivers a story (Buffy travels through time into a Blade Runner-like future) that could never have been done on a television budget.

First, some back story on Fray. The slayer Melaka Fray was first introduced in the eight-issue Fray comic series. Fray inherited the powers of the slayer but not the dreams and memories that normally come with them. These actually went to her twin brother Harth. He was turned into a vampire and later becomes a leader of the vampires, using his special knowledge of the Slayers against her. By the end, Fray accepts her role as the Slayer, but Harth remains at large and is a continuous threat.

As great as this story arc is, it is even better in retrospect after reading Season Eight in its entirety because the story makes a lot more sense.

It's also great that artist Karl Moline was used for this particular story arc. He is the same artist that was used on the original Fray comic series. His work here is absolutely fantastic, and it's fascinating to see his versions of Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Dawn.

No doubt about it. Time of Your Life is Buffy at its best.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2009
I just finished reading this and the story has not advanced one bit after 5 books now.

The whole cross time caper had 0 point with everything resetting back to the way it started at the end of the story. Telling who is who in this book take reading the words because the art is so bad I can't figure out most of the caracters (except for the one male). I also agree with several of the other reivews that the big reveal in this book is totally lost with the bad art. I have no clue who that is even after showing their face....

The 5th book was cute and at least I could tell the characters apart it also lacked any real reason.

Hopefully Vol 5 gets back on track and they find a new artist for this series quick!
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on April 7, 2015
Karl Moline that drew for the Joss Whedon series Fray takes over art duties from Georges Jeanty in issues #16-19 collected in this volume. That's kinda fitting since Fray costars in the story arc "Time of Your Life" that spans those 4 issues. His work is just as good as Jeanty's has been on the first 3 volumes. All of the main characters are easily recognizable even though they look different than Jeanty's interpretations. Where Moline's work shines is in the future segments of the story. He brought Melaka Fray's futuristic New York world life. His art gets 5 stars. Unfortunately, Moline's wasn't the only art in the volume. Issues #20's beginning and ending are drawn by Georges Jeanty. Those pages are just as well drawn as all of his previous work. It's the art in the middle of the issue I have a little bit of a problem with. That art is drawn by Eric Wright and Ethen Beavers. It's not terrible art, but it is a lot more cartoon-y than the rest of the art has been in issues #1-19. It's a dream sequence that is almost a caricature of the rest of the series. It fit the story, but I'm still not a fan because the art is a step down from the tremendous work so far. The art for that issue gets 4 stars. Because of the art in the last issue dragging down the score, the overall art gets 4.5 stars.

I loved the main "Time of Your Life" arc. It is my favorite of the 4 main arcs so far. I've rated all of the main arcs so far 5 stars, but if I had to put them in order from favorite to least, it would be this one first, volume 3 second, volume 1 third, and volume 2 last. What I liked so much about this volume was that it reminded me of your normal superhero cross-company title where 2 heroes are both working on the same case end up fighting before realizing that they are on the same side. In this case, the 2 heroes were both Slayers. Seeing Buffy and Fray go toe-to-toe was great. Add to that a centaur, Dark Willow, and some tree people, and you have one entertaining read. Joss Whedon is still at the top of his game writing. This story arc gets 5 stars, but just like in the art segment, the story was a little cartoon-y. Like I also said above, the cartoonish nature of the story fit because it was dream sequence, but it was a let down after the stellar story arc that had preceded it. The fact that Jeph Loeb was writing this standalone issue had my hopes up, but this is far from his best work. I'm giving the writing for issue #20 3.5 stars. The not so stellar issue #20 brings the total writing score down to 4.25 stars overall. I'll round that down and call it 4.

The overall score would then also be a 4.25. So, I'll round that down to 4 as well. It's sad that my favorite story arc is part of the owest rated volume in the series so. In one of my reviews for a previous volume of Season 8, I stated that normally standalone issues usually aren't very good and detract from the overall big picture stories that it falls between. The standalone issue in this volume is a prime example of that. This volume is well worth the read, but not as great as it would have been had issue #20 not been included.
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on July 28, 2014
I kind of feel like this volume would have made a lot more sense/been more exciting if I had read Fray first. I mean, it's exciting enough and there's just enough information to figure out what's going on, but it doesn't seem like it's the full story. It also doesn't really seem to fit in with this season. It's more like one of those episodes from the show that has nothing really to do with the Big Bad and just goes off on its own little tangent.

The story itself is interesting enough. Something Buffy does in the present changes the entire future, and the world is back to having one Slayer - Fray. Her Watcher is a water-dwelling demon, and she shares her powers with her twin brother. She has the strength and the skills, but he has the Slayer memories. I really wanted to know more about Fray and her life and why her world is the way it is, but I guess that's a story for another day. Anyone who has already read Fray will probably really enjoy this cross-over.

Buffy is long gone in the future, but Willow is still around. And of course, whatever Buffy does in the present has also changed her life. She's definitely not the same Willow that Buffy knows. She totally plays both sides of the conflict to benefit herself, and it was a really Willow thing to do... especially considering the circumstances. I also thought the artists did a great job translating her into comic book form.

I did really enjoy getting to see Kennedy again though! Also, she was wearing a Marzipan shirt (see, so 1000 extra cool points there. I love the ridiculous pet names she and Willow give each other and I'm glad that we actually get to see a little bit of what she's up to now. Especially since Willow keeps her far away in NYC so she doesn't get hurt. It's kind of ridiculous because Kennedy is a Slayer after all... but whatever.

If you've read the first three volumes in this series, this one is a nice break from all of the Twilight stuff. It's also not necessarily one that you have to have read the first three to appreciate, although I wouldn't recommend reading them out of order of course. I would also say that any fans of BtVS should still read these comics, because they're pretty decent. Great artwork, interesting story, humor and wit, and (mostly) the Buffy we all know and love. 4/5.
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