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Fray, Dark Horse
written by Joss Whedon; pencilled by Karl Moline
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An eight-issue miniseries set like a couple hundred years or so after the time of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I wanted to pick this up since its first run, but somehow never got around to it. Finally I felt I just had to get the trade paperback before the main character, Melaka Fray, was to show up in issue 16 of Buffy Season 8. And about bloody time it was, too. Fray is just freakin' awesome; it's everything you could expect from any project Joss Whedon is directly involved in. It has more than a taste of the Slayerverse, albeit greatly altered. It also seemed to me to have a bit of a taste of Joss' Firefly 'verse. And, you know, a whole sort of dystopian future thing goin' on, too....

It has been over 200 years since there have been any vampire slayers, which is fine, since there have been no more vampires. Or demons. Or magic of any kind. All that stuff was long ago banished from our dimension. But now, somehow, it has returned, and once again, a girl has been called. Melaka Fray is the new Slayer, though she's never even heard of vampires. She's just a thief, though a very good one. Very strong, agile, resilient, whatever. She works for a guy named Gunther. A fish-guy. Apparently the world has plenty of mutants (or "radies") these days. And "pumps," people who are really strong because of things like steroid treatment, tissue enhancement, genetic engineering.... There are also the "lurks," who pretty much stick to the shadows I guess. Mostly. They cause some trouble, people may be kind of afraid of them, but they basically just think they're like radies or pumps, or something like that.

They're not. Lurks are actually vampires. Melaka learns this from a demon named Urkonn, who has been sent to train her. The Watchers are also looking for her, but um... they're not exactly the organization they once were, and at this point don't seem to be of any real importance to the story. Anyway, um. What to say next? I should mention some of the people in Mel's life. There's her older sister, Erin. She's a cop (or "law") now, which means she and Mel don't really get along, considering Mel's career choice. There's a young mutant girl named Loo, with whom Mel is friends. She looks after Loo, and Loo thinks Mel's a hero and really cool and stuff, I guess. There's also Mel's twin brother, Harth, who died a few years back, but he's still pretty important to the story. As is Icarus, the vampire who killed him. He's now working for some new vampire, referred to as "The One Who Will Lead."

Anyway, Mel isn't willing at first to accept anything Urkonn tells her, largely because the dreams the Slayer is supposed to have of her past lives... well, she never had them. Which is weird, but we eventually learn the reason for this, which I have no intention of spoiling. Actually there's plenty of stuff I want to avoid spoiling, so I'm not really sure how much else I can say. But it isn't too long before Mel accepts Urkonn's training, and takes up the fight against the lurks (er, vampires). But she can't do it alone. She wants to get help from people in the neighborhood, as well as from her sister. None of that seems very likely, but hey, can't hurt to try. Anyway, the One Who Will Lead has a plan to merge the human and demon worlds, which is something the elder demons who sent Urkonn don't want to happen. At least not yet.... Which is fine, because, whatever their motivations, it'd totally screw our world if it happened, anyway. So best to go ahead and try to stop it, then.

And I guess I can't think what else to say, without giving too much away. There are some shocking twists and flashbacks along the way, but eventually Mel wins her battle. But there'll always be more evil to fight, I suppose. This first story... well it was just really cool, and funny, and dramatic, and whatnot. Plenty of new future slang to learn. I dunno, it's just a good story, and I look forward to seeing more of Fray at some point. For now, I'm happy to see her in Buffy season 8. Before that apparently she was in a "Tales of the Slayers" story, which I've never read, but probably should someday. And I hope she'll be in other stuff, maybe another miniseries or something. We'll see. Anyway, I'd like to say more, but... well, maybe later. It's pretty awesome, though....

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