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FRAYWriter: Joss Whedon
Artist: Karl Moline, Andy Owens, et. al.
Publisher: Dark Horse
Synopsis: A couple of hundred years hence, the world's not exactly in great shape. Manhattan's become an uberslum, the hole in the ozone is causing bizarre mutations, and life is just generally fast, cheap and out of control, especially for Melaka Fray. Fray's a top-of-the-line "grabber", or cat burglar, working for a fish (long story) and trying to avoid the watchful eye of her police officer sister. But when an honest-to-goodness demon named Urkonn shows up and tries to instruct her in her true calling, it turns her world, crazy as it already is, upside down. Turns out she's the Chosen One--the one girl in all the world destined to stand against the forces of darkness--she who was once known as the Vampire Slayer. Is Melaka up for the job? Maybe, if someone would just tell her what a "vampire" is...
How Is It?: I make no secret of the fact that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my favouritest shows, so I've been dying to see this collected into a TPB--which took a bloody long time. Anyway, what we have here is essentially Buffy Beyond or, if you like, Joss Whedon's Dark Angel, only better than either of those cheesy-ass descriptions would suggest. In essence, Fray is to SF comics what Buffy was to teen soap operas: drop vampires and a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheekness into the slightly camp formula, and then take it into really dark territory. Sure enough, Whedon ends up screwing with our heads more than once, giving us a bleak future that seems to be "wrong" on several levels; not only is the world dystopian, but the long-banished vamps and demons are coming back, the Watchers Council is a bunch of madmen, and the new Slayer seems to have hatched wrong, as it were. It took me a surprisingly long time to get into it; Whedon's imagination apparently doesn't extend to world-building (we get a pretty standard-issue cyberpunk setting, less the vampires) and it initially feels just a bit too rushed. Still, once it gets cooking (around issue 3) Whedon's penchant for snappy dialogue and jaw-dropping twists assure you won't want to stop reading. Now, if only they'd bring back Firefly...
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