Or – “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be…”
Ever since the beginning of the Season Eight storyline, comic fans have beenÂ awaiting the appearance of Joss Whedon’s OTHER comic book Slayer, Melaka Fray.Â Those of you who are in the know may recall that the Scythe (which isn’t a Scythe) that Buffy carried in the last season or so of BtVS actually made it’s first chronological appearance in the Fray miniseries that Dark Horse put out, chronicleing the adventures of the Slayer of the somewhat far future.Â The cover promises that Miss Summers and Miss Fray are about to finally come Slayerface to Slayerface…Â What happens now?Â I’m voting: tea party!
Previously onÂ Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season Eight:Â A battle with Japanese vampires left the Slayer conclave in disarray.Â Xander is in mourning, as his shiny new squeeze Renee has been killed (and his “Dracula’s Buttmonkey” status finally ended), Buffy had to leave HER squeeze Satsu behind in Tokyo to replace one of her lost soldiers, Willow came face to face with an ancient entity that wants to either recruit, eat, or seduce her, or possibly some combination thereof, sending Miss Rosenberg to New York.Â Luckily, Buff has it the easiest, as she can forget the end of yet another relationship that was probably a bad idea by getting her head caved in by a woman who’s just as fast, just as strong, just as durable as she is, and who even carries a doppelganger of the weapon that usually turns the tide for her..Â
“Bad day,” thinks Buffy, as the issue begins.Â “Started out bad, stayed that way.”Â As she gets knocked off a rooftoop to what should probably be her doom, she wonders the inevitable question: “Who the hell is this person?”Â As she falls, Buffy hilariously can’t focus on fighting, or plummeting, instead wondering what’s up with her friends, where she is, and whether little sister Dawn is allright.Â We flashback, as the remainder of the original Scooby Gang, Willow, Buffy, and Xander, discuss Willow’s plans over Chinese food.Â The girls are cautious of Xander’s pseudo-widower status, but Xan isn’t having any of it.Â “I need to know everything about the demon lover with the snake body, and don’t shield me from anything deviant or…Â I don’t want to say kinky…”Â Â Heh.Â Their supper is interrupted by the red-headed Slayer with the giant hair (Does she have a name?) and Will and Buffy take off at high speed, finding Dawn hiding in the woods.Â Entertainingly, Xander, possesing neither Slayer speed nor mystical flight, arrives a minute or so later, completely out of breath, to find Dawn…
…turned into a centaur.Â Centauress?Â Centaurina?Â Girl/horse!Â Either way, she’s not a giant anymore.Â Somewhere else, Warren “Skinless Frank” Mears tries to impress the mysterious masked Twilight with something that he created.Â Twilight (whose identity is still a secret, but I suspect Mon-El) isn’t impressed, as we cut away to show a nuclear missile covered with arcane runes and mystical gewgaws.Â It’s not even a little bit intimidating, honestly, but I suspect that wasn’t the intent.Â The next day, Buff and Will depart Scotland for New York, only to find that Willow sent her advance scout first, leading to the first non-flashbacky appearance of Kennedy in this series.Â They rendezvous with the New York team, the leader of which explains the strange magical resonances they’ve been reading.Â Willow explains that something wicked this way comes, in a temporal sense, and that echoes (or, as she puts it, “there’s no word to use, but it’s the opposite of echoes”) of that are affecting the world.Â Buffy and Kennedy have a bonding moment over how wonderful Willow is before Kennedy snaps, “I love that you’re in your experimental phase, ’cause I really thought you were a ‘phobe, butÂ you put the moves on Red, and I’ll kill you like a chicken.”Â Heh…Â Protective girlfriend.Â Awesome.
Back in Scotland, Xander and Dawn discuss the parameters of magic.Â Since the curse she bears came from a Thricewise, Dawn will probably go through three transformations of a mystical nature.Â “Great,” grumps the younger Summers girl, flicking herÂ silky tail,Â “three enchantments wherein my ass is huge.”Â Heh…Â She looks pretty awesome as a Centaurina, and Xander tells her so, to her surprise.Â She complains that she wants to eat hay, and feels like a freak, but Xander tries to reason with her.Â “There must be a non-whiny way to deal with this.”Â Dawn gallops away in a tiff, and Xander returns to the castle…Â Â only to watch it explode from Warren’s mystic nuke!Â Oh… Crap.Â In the Big Apple, Buffy, Kennedy and Willow prepare to trip the growing temporal rift, and Willow realizes that it’s centered on the Scythe (which is not a scythe.)Â Suddenly, Buffy appears in a sexy minidress and some kinda hot boots, (“I’m undercover!”) before popping out of existence and being replaced by a monster.Â She finds herself agonizingly thrown right into the fist of Melaka Fray, the slayer of the FUTURRRRRE!Â “You think you can spin me with a half-coi glam of a slayer been dust for more than two cen?Â You’re worse than a lurk!” spits Fray, as Buffy begs for a dictionary.
For those of you keeping track at home, that actually means this issue ends BEFORE it began, moments before the Slayers fight off the building.Â I like that.Â Karl Moline rocks the art this issue, with a Buffy that looks more like Sarah Michelle Gellar than even Georges Jeanty, while Joss Whedon returns to the story with a vengeance, even though the interim arcs didn’t suffer for clever dialogue and tight plotting.Â This issue sets up a “Who’d Win?” that BtVS fans have been quietly wondering about for a while, though, as the experienced comic veteran, I’ll wager they have a short fight due to misunderstanding before combining forces to take out the real threat.Â Either way, I am really looking forward to things to come, and I think that Kennedy’s return to the main storyline is a welcome addition.Â Even when it disappoints, this book doesn’t hit many false notes, and this particular issue does the equivalent of nailing the solo from “Knights of Cydonia” on Hard…Â BuffyÂ The Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #16 is aÂ 4.5 out of 5 star effort, and there’s a fist-fight a’comin.Â Better board up some windows, future-women.