“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.” – Buffy Summers
This issue opens in Haddyn. Melaka Fray and her sister Erin are in a high-altitude flying-car-chase with a nest of Lurks. Melaka catches up to them and grabs hold of one. She threatens him with her Scythe. She commands him to tell her the whereabouts of her twin, Harth. He refuses. He tells her that Harth has promised them the world and that the Madwoman would save them.
Melaka: What Woman?
Lurk: The Dark-haired one. She’s lived for centuries, speaks in riddles and strange voices… He calls her the Black Hope, says she has power greater even than his.
Melaka drives the wooden end of the Scythe into the Lurks heart and he turns to dust. Erin asks Mel if she knows the identity of the mysterious madwoman he was referring to. She says she doesn’t know off the top of her head. But she sounds familiar. She decides to consult the Watchers diaries.
Meanwhile, Harth is meeting with the woman in question. They are talking on a balcony in what looks like a landing station. The vehicles look just like the one Mel and Erin were chasing. Vampires are offloading people like cargo. The madwoman is dressed in gothic clothing and shrouded in shadow. We do not see her face. Harth remembers the woman from one of his prophetic Slayer dreams. In the dream, he remembers fighting her and that she was connected to someone the Slayer loved.
Madwoman: Tonight. The princess leaves her kingdom for the forest of the now.
She’s referring to Buffy. Harth asks why she would want her here. Surely, Buffy and his sister combined are more of a threat to them. She tells him that vampires gain strength from each other and Slayers ultimately, don’t.
Back in present day Manhattan, Willow is blaming herself for Buffy’s disappearance and Kennedy’s injuries.
Willow: This is my fault.
Kennedy: Nah, I zigged when I shoulda stabbed. I’ll heal up okay. Still a considerate girlfriend would have killed that thing.
Willow explains that she has to figure some things out before making with the stabby. She looks at the demon which took Buffy’s place and presumes that they’re dealing with a swap rather than transmogrification.
Willow: I think our new friend is from the future. And I think Buffy took his place.
In Scotland, Xander has his hands full fighting off an army of medieval cobra-faced foot soldiers. They arrived along with Warren and Amy’s mystical nuke which struck the castle in the previous issue. Rowena is upset. There were casualties when the missile hit. Xander tells her to pull herself together and orders her to get the other Slayers out of the castle to safety. Centaur Dawn gallops in and rescues him. They flee the castle together. Dawn runs to the forest with Xander on her back.
Dawn: You’re pulling my hair.
Xander: I’m holding your mane!
Dawn: My mane is my hair!
In Haddyn, Mel and Erin arrive at the rooftop in which Buffy and the Demon are due to switch places. In present day Manhattan, Willow explains what happened.
Willow: Years from now, someone enlists our big ugly demon friend to take down the Slayer. I’m guessing this was meant to draw her out. Then whoever summoned big ugly opened a temporal portal, sucked him right in. From what he said, that wasn’t the recruitment ad. Whoever did this has way more power than I do. And they made very sure word would get out. To the magic community, to my allies, to me. We were played.
This brings us up to speed and we’re back on the rooftop where Buffy and Mel first meet and face-off. They engage in some quality Slayer banter while fighting (See Buffy Speak of the Week.) Buffy eventually convinces Mel that they are both Slayers and that something mystical is clearly at play. Buffy asks if they can talk somewhere less motion-sicknessy. On their way to Gunther’s pad, Buffy asks Mel how many Slayers there are in this time. Mel explains that it’s just her and that for centuries there were none. She also fills her in on her brother.
Melaka: His name is Harth. He was born with my memories, my… conex to the Slayers. I got books, old Watchers’ journals, but he knows… more. And he was turned. He’s a Lurk. He has all my world in his head, and he’s using it to gather them. To kill us. My Harth.
Buffy says that she’s sorry for her loss and asks what a Lurk is. Mel catches her up to speed in Haddyn lingo. When they reach Gunther’s, Mel’s mutant-fish-employer, they question him about the madwoman.
Gunther: I’ve heard a little. A woman, alive since ancient timessss…
Melaka: Lurks don’t age. What’s her ploy?
Back at Harth's HQ, he and the madwoman are talking strategy. Her identity is finally revealed. It’s Dark Willow.
To be continued…
The Watchers Files
Time of Your Life was written by Joss Whedon and features artwork by Karl Moline and Jo Chen.
This was a great issue. The first time I read it, I was blown away when the madwoman’s identity was finally revealed. I literally gasped. Yes, I’m really that theatrical. What a clever little mislead. (See Trivia.)
I loved the banter between Buffy and Mel. Buffy blaming herself for the demise of the English language was priceless.
Getting to revisit Haddyn and its inhabitants was awesome. Having Buffy and Dark Willow there made it all the sweeter.
Even though I prefer my Willow as a redhead fighting for the forces of good, I can’t help but revel when Dark Willow makes an appearance. She’s iconic. The revelation that she exists centuries in the future, opened a whole can of worms. Is Willow gonna go Dark again? If so, when? Is she the friend that ultimately betrays Buffy? This issue posed many intriguing questions. Stay tuned friends, all will be revealed.
The Lost Red Herring
When Time Of Your Life, Part 2, was originally released, fans were deliberately misled to believe that Drusilla was the mysterious madwoman of the future. The gothic clothing and ethereal dialogue all pointed to Dru. Also, given the amount of time passed, it was reasonable to assume that the madwoman was a vampire. Unfortunately, this clever red herring was lost if you read the series via volume, rather than the single-issue format. When the story arc was released in full in Season eight’s fourth volume, it blatantly featured Dark Willow on the cover. It’s a shame, because it was a pretty shocking reveal. On the plus side, the cover is awesome.
Buffy Speak of the Week
Buffy’s reaction to Mel’s lingo had me in stitches. When the queen of abbreviation is confused, the earth is doomed.
Melaka: Offa me, Shifter!
Buffy: I am not shifty!
Melaka: That’s spin! You think I’m a slack?
Buffy: You are talking crazy-person talk. Put your words in word places, please. We both have Scythes. We both have awesome kung-Fu moves. Turn-offs include smokers, insensitive men, and vampires. You with me?
Melaka: It’s not poss.
Buffy: We’re standing on a flying car. “Poss” is a pretty sketchy concept right now.
Slayer Rating: 4.5/5 Stakes