When Joss Whedon was younger he always wanted to read the comic book about the strong ordinary girl as superhero. When he grew up he wrote Buffy: The Vampire Slayer partly in response to the horror movie trope in which the little blond girl always dies. In his world the little blond chick kicks demon ass and saves the world–a lot. In Fray Joss Whedon has written the comic book that he always wanted to read–the strong girl, with a regular looking body, and sufficient amounts of clothing, who carries the story and saves the world. I’m not sure if I’m ecstatic that he wrote this story, or profoundly depressed that in order to read this story he had to write it himself.
Fray is set somewhere in a post-Buffy future. Sometime in the past the vampires were vanquished and banished from the earth. As a consequence the line of Slayers died out and the Watchers became a fringe group of zealous lunatics. Which, as anyone who has ever read a book can tell you, is exactly when you should start getting worried.
Melaka Fray is a bit of a loner. She doesn’t get along with her older sister. She gets into the occasional bar fight. And, she’s one of the city’s best thieves. She is understandably confused and irritated when a large thing with horns shows up and insists that she’s the Slayer and the last hope of the world against a bunch of fairytale monsters used to scare children at night. But, a few run-ins with the undead, a startling revelation from her past, and one conspiracy later and Melaka is more than a little convinced, even if she is in way over her head.
The dialogue is sharp, and Whedon’s post-Buffy world is both alien and familiar. He has created a new context without letting go of the familiar mythology of our own world. Karl Moline’s art brings Whedon’s vision alive on the page with rich colors. His Fray is not a buxom bombshell, she is lean and lithe and alive. You can see her growing up and becoming an adult over the course of the novel. Moline has not only made Fray lifelike, he’s made her real.
I can’t begin to recommend this book enough. You don’t have to know anything about Buffy the show to get involved with these characters, they stand on their own and will demand your attention and your involvement in their story. However, if you were a Buffy fan and wanted to know what happened later, albeit much much later, this is satisfying on yet another level. Plus, Fray’s weapon of choice is the seriously cool ax seen in Season 7.