Resurfacing after a few month missing in action, the Buffy series understandably has a little difficulty in getting its momentum back. While there’s a handsome apology for the delay contained in the letters page, the third part of a four-issue arc is an awkward time for a title to go on hiatus, and as a consequence, the lack of fresh plot in The Time of Your Life’s conclusion is keenly felt.
The bi-centennial Willow has pulled off quite a feat, managing to unite every faction in the twenty second century against its visitor. Buffy knows her friend too well, however, being able to spot the witch’s real intentions. Given that this is a conclusion, the writer spends much of his time on action sequences, showing the readership both the threatened full-on Buffy versus Fray battle and the slayer army rallying after the attack on their castle. In light of the focus on future events, it’s unsurprising that the latter conflict feels rather messy, joining the internal politics of Team Twilight in being shoehorned as interludes in the slayers’ one on one brawl. The arc’s main weakness is that it leaves Fray’s world largely unchanged, making the story feel slightly inconsequential. While Buffy’s last act in the future will undoubtedly stay with her for some time to come, Joss Whedon comprehensively undoes of the alterations that he had made to the future slayer’s world, leaving the scenario exactly as Summers found it. While the slight stumbles in this issue don’t damage the arc as a whole, the inequality of impact that the two time periods have on each other is a more serious gripe.
The issue’s main strength comes from an unusual trick Whedon pulls off, in the form of a moment that carries considerably more weight after the reader has time to reflect upon it. Buffy’s execution of Willow is initially brushed off as a possible future vision, but after putting the book down and musing on events, it becomes clear that this actually stands as the character’s in-canon fate. How her killer deals with her part in events will provide interesting material for the book’s future. It’s a reasonable issue, but to truly get the series back on track, we’ll need to see this quality maintained consistently for a few months. There’s a lot riding on next month’s contribution from guest writer Jeph Lo-