Vickie's Reviews > Fray

Fray by Joss Whedon
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Nov 01, 09

bookshelves: graphic-novels
Read in November, 2009

There's nothing I can say about this that hasn't been said before. I am also a confessed Whedonite, and I would marry him if not for the fact that he works too much and would never be home in time for dinner and I totally wasted this roast that took all day to cook!

Ahem. 50's housewife flashback aside, this is an excellent, stand-alone comic. It's like the Buffy movie that never was. While the setting with its tired trope of flying cars and post-apocalyptic ghettos underneath floating cities needs a little forgiving, the rest of the comic is pure Whedon magic. His trademark dry wit finds a perfect match with Melaka Fray, who is more jaded than the "sensible yet stylish shoes" Buffy but less isolated than the "7th season General" Buffy.

This comic also answers the question of what makes a Slayer. Is she a Slayer because she is Chosen? Or has a Watcher? Or has prophetic dreams or enhanced physical abilities? One commonality between past and present Slayers is a strong sense of justice, and the power to wield it. Much as Whedon's Buffy-Slayer acted as a rallying cry for all those blonde bimbos in horror movies that are powerless against the monster, or who always must open the wrong door or trip on something, Fray-Slayer is a symbol of believing in something larger than yourself, your life of crime, and even this particular plane of existence.

And much as I hate to use the word "empowerment", its presence pervades the comic and the Buffy-verse. Though she might not have elected to be put in this position, Mel chooses to take on the responsibility of protecting those around her, despite not having any guidance.

The art of this novel is also amazing. The lines are almost strong enough to carry the action by themselves, but the intense colors only add to the life of the story. The reds in particular are intense, cherry tomato reds, that make the blood and other visceral things pop out intensely.

I guess my critique is, though there is a twist ending, much of the themes in the story has already been done in the Buffy-verse before. There are qualities of the epic story that are fulfilled to the letter, and you can imagine what would happen if the story were to continue: Mel would gain allies, leveling up before facing the next boss. She will meet a sage who will guide her, have a moment when she questions herself but returns stronger, etc. Urkonn subverts some of these old standbys, but a continuation of the story would seem to have no choice but to rehash some old Buffy themes. Then again, I'm not Joss Whedon, and he could probably pull a big technicolor rabbit out of that hat.

So. Final answer? Get your hands on it. You'll lurve it.
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Christopher Ryan Great review. You handle the complications of reviewing Whedon well, er, well.


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