Buffy S8 #16: Fray Returns!

July 6, 2008

I have to admit that I never read Joss Whedon’s Fray, a limited series about a futuristic Slayer set in the Buffy universe. May seem odd for such a huge fan, I always meant to add the 8 issue limited series to my already growing collection of Buffy comics, but honestly there were too many books I was already reading and keeping up with. I really want to get the collected TPB soon. I do know the basic mythology though.

This week, with the release of Buffy #16 the internet will be buzzing with the first historical meeting between Buffy and Melaka Fray, the Slayer from another century. I like the way this comic bookmarks their crossing paths in between a heavy dose of action and plot lines from the current series. A whole hell of a lot happens this issue which makes it feel as though it is twice as long as it regularly is, even though it isn’t.

Dawn has gone a staggering new magical transformation. Willow explains that a mystical occurence in New  York is the result of a temporal anomaly. This necessitates Buffy and Willow to travel to New York where they meet up with Willow’s former flame (sorry Tara fans, it’s not a resucitated Tara and it isn’t a certain werewolf either) 

In their absence, Xander is left to defend home base in Scotland but the castle comes under attack and oh yea, a certain skinless former adversary and Willow’s former pet rat are plotting evil with a more current big bad. See what I mean? A lot happens. Usually hallmark episodes written by Whedon in the series, and now in the comic, were very light on exposition and heavy on watershed events. In between all the action, we get the requisite  quiet moments which were a trademark of the TV show and which have been ever present in season 8. For example, Xander puts up a brave front after the events of the past issue which saw him suffering another great loss.

There’s a mildly disturbing scene where Willow’s flame gets jealous over one of Buffy’s remarks of affection towards the former and her recent sexual daliances are referenced as an “experimental phase.” This is balanced by very funny scenes of Buffy enjoying riding a limo for the first time in which she acts in exactly the way you would expect a young person in that situation to act.

Overall this comic is terrific, Whedon again exhibits great skill and respect for the characters he has created and has been directing since he was a college student, and the artwork by Karl Moline, who was the original artist on the Fray mini series and has returned for this story arc, while not as accurate as Georges Jeanty’s when it comes to rendering the cast, is still pretty solid and expressive. Go get it!