Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended a seven year television run in 2003 with an open ending. Since then fans have wanted to know what has happened to the characters from the series. Buffy returned in new stories from Dark Horse Comics in 2007 with the launch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, which is slated to run 40 issues with the season plotted by Joss Whedon and Whedon writing a good number of arcs or single issue stories. “Time of Your Life” is the fourth arc of season eight that ran from issues 16 thru 19 and was written by Joss Whedon and drawn by Karl Moline. Dark Horse has been collecting each arc and publishing them in trade paperbacks, Time of Your Life is the fourth collected edition of Season Eight.
Whedon’s first comic ever was the 2002 Dark Horse mini-series Fray, which told the tale of Maleka Fray, the slayer from the 23rd Century. It also introduced the mystical scythe which Whedon loved so much it made it into season seven of Buffy. Following the events of Wolves at The Gate (Volume Three), Buffy, Willow and Xander are discussing the visions Willow received and what to do about them, when Buffy is transported to the 23rd century and is caught in battle with Fray who must then help Buffy find a way home.
Back in the present, Willow and Xander are also trying to find a way to retrieve Buffy, deal with Dawn’s curse which first had her as a giant and has now transformed her into a topless centaur which gets some great lines from Xander — as well as deal with the season’s “big bad” Twilight and his lackey Warren destroying the slayers’ base.
Things get more complicated for Buffy when Dark Willow returns in the 23rd century and a battle through the centuries between Willow and Dark Willow to keep Buffy rages on.
It was great to see Fray again since Whedon has repeatedly said he wasn’t done with her story. I loved the fact that Karl Moline who drew the Fray mini-series was able to do the art for this storyline as well. While not the same style as series regular Georges Jeanty, the characters’ likenesses are still recognizable, and his style was perfect for this arc.
Following “Time of Your Life” was “After These Messages … We'll Be Right Back!" a one-shot by Jeph Loeb who was one of the writers for the never launched Buffy The Vampire Slayer animated series. After falling asleep, Buffy wakes up and finds herself back in high school and season one of the series. Thinking it’s some kind of dream, she decides to go along for the ride and enjoys seeing versions of her friends from years gone by. The style is that of the animated series that never was; artist Eric Wight captures how the characters would have looked if they were cartoons.
The success of season eight has already prompted Whedon and Dark Horse to confirm that a season nine will also be happening. Hopefully, some day Whedon will return to Fray to continue her story; her reappearance has whetted my appetite for more as well as other fans. “Time of Your Life” was a great time travel story which advanced the plot of the season, while “After These Messages” showed what might have been if the animated series had been green-lit. The next arc involves Harmony, the outing of vampires and becoming celebrities. Looks to be a fun story, which after the darkness of the last two arcs will be a welcome change.