Fray. Joss Whedon (writer). Karl Moline (pencils). Andy Owens (inks). Dave Stewart and Michelle Madsen (colors). Michelle Madsen (letters). Dark Horse Comics. Softcover. Full Color. 216 Pages. $19.99
I’ve been having a fairly random rekindling of my love for Buffy The Vampire Slayer of late. As such it seemed like the perfect time to finally take a look at Joss Whedon’s Fray. Based in the Buffy universe, but propelled forward a few hundred years into the future, Whedon’s 8-issue mini-series from Dark Horse focuses on Melaka Fray, a new slayer called forth after many years of a world without a slayer.
Fray works as a great introductory character, because she knows as little about her destiny as any new reader might, which makes a natural fit for introducing those unfamiliar with Buffy lore to Whedon’s universe. And it’s done skillfully enough that readers already well familiar with the universe won’t be bored by the history lesson. In the series, Fray, a thief and “runner” for a fish man called Guther, is called as the first Slayer in a couple hundred years, to fight a war brewing and a hellmouth about to open up to let in all sorts of dimensional hell beasties. A guide of sorts, though not her watcher (that dude lights himself on fire in front of her, whee!), named Urkonn has been summoned to help train her for the coming war and the complexities he finds in her makes for some nice plot twists that are especially satisfying I suspect for readers already familiar with Whedon’s universe. Regardless, the plot twists, which I won’t spoil here, come just at the right moments to keep you off-balance in all the good ways that a smart engaging story does. Fray doesn’t have the rich cast of allies that Buffy developed over time on the television series and that continues in the books, but what Fray does have here, some real family and some adopted family, plus Urkonn, her fishy boss, and an arch-nemesis all works well and gives just enough of a tapestry to keep everything very interesting.