Here’s another slightly incoherent, nevertheless endearing volume of Buffy Season Eight; I mean to say, it isn’t always clear, how things relate to the greater scheme of this chaotic Buffy-season-eight-verse, but I still loved everything about this fourth volume. Whedon’s poignant dialogs and Moline’s lively art make a fine mix. Plus, there’s this neat Buffy-Fray crossover, where Buffy is thrown into the lurk-lurking future of the brunette, lone slayer — Melaka Fray.
But first things first: right in the beginning of the opening chapter, Dawn goes through the second phase of her annoying enchantment-curse-thing as she transforms into a beautiful female-centaur. Xander and newly transmogrified Dawn stay behind in slayers’ headquarters, while Willow and Buffy travel to New York, following a frail lead from previous volume, concerning Buffy’s scythe.
Just to make things more interesting for Xander and Dawn while the others are away, the slayers’ Headquarters castle is attacked by a mystical-missile (courtesy of Twilight and skinless Warren) that spawns ethereal-green and extremely violent creatures. The whole fighting and occasionally run-for-your-life situation leads to yet more confusing moments for Xander, when he – literarily – needs to ride Buffy’s little sister – as dirty as it might have sound, hadn’t we known she’s now centaur.
Meanwhile in New York, Buffy, Willow and some other slayers rendezvous in a nifty Manhattan loft. Suddenly and unexplainably (save for some sketchy graphs of “time ripples” drawn by Willow) Buffy is sucked into the future, where she finds herself face to fist with Melaka Fray — the future slayer who has her own independent arc bearing the same name, which you should definitely read.
As Buffy struggles to understand Fray’s futuristic American (“Vampires are Lurks. A Spin is a lie. Toy is bad, but spled is good. Boy the English language is just losing it. I should have treated it better…”), both slayers decide it’s best to learn the why and the who of Buffy’s time travel.
It seems that Buffy is not the only familiar person in Fray’s timeline. We are soon to reveal that Dark Willow — now darker than ever, centuries older and power-drained — is behind all this. But to what end? Only Whedon knows; meanwhile, we relish in the melancholic, emotionally-charged Willow-Buffy-Dark-Willow triangle.
Thanks to the delicate and lovely art of Karl Moline, we finally get extremely beautiful and feminine characters of Buffy and Willow — as they rightfully deserve to be depicted. Especially notable is the depiction of Dark Willow – sad, meditative and cunning. It’s a refreshing break from the regular series’ art-style, and I really wish we’d get more of Moline’s art in Buffy .
The last chapter of the volume is a one-issue story called “After These Messages…We’ll Be Right Back!” Exhausted, Buffy falls asleep on Xander’s bed – all dirty and muddy from recent relentless slaying. In her rather cartoonish dream (lightweight story by Jeph Loeb, cartoony-cute art by Georges Jeanty) Buffy is back in her early days of High school. Cordelia is there too, Buffy’s mom, and all the young Scoobies. All of the sudden, the past seems so simple and naive – which really makes both Buffy and the readers long for Sunnydale all over again – as if we needed much help with that!
Anyway, all this future-past melancholic longings got me craving even more Buffy adventures. It’s a good thing I still have several volumes to go.