Or – “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be…”

Ever since the beginning of the Season Eight storyline, comic fans have been awaiting the appearance of Joss Whedon’s OTHER comic book Slayer, Melaka Fray.  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.  The cover promises that Miss Summers and Miss Fray are about to finally come Slayerface to Slayerface…  What happens now?  I’m voting: tea party!

Previously on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season Eight:  A battle with Japanese vampires left the Slayer conclave in disarray.  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.  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.. 

“Bad day,” thinks Buffy, as the issue begins.  “Started out bad, stayed that way.”  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?”  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.  We flashback, as the remainder of the original Scooby Gang, Willow, Buffy, and Xander, discuss Willow’s plans over Chinese food.  The girls are cautious of Xander’s pseudo-widower status, but Xan isn’t having any of it.  “I need to know everything about the demon lover with the snake body, and don’t shield me from anything deviant or…  I don’t want to say kinky…”   Heh.  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.  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.  Centauress?  Centaurina?  Girl/horse!  Either way, she’s not a giant anymore.  Somewhere else, Warren “Skinless Frank” Mears tries to impress the mysterious masked Twilight with something that he created.  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.  It’s not even a little bit intimidating, honestly, but I suspect that wasn’t the intent.  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.  They rendezvous with the New York team, the leader of which explains the strange magical resonances they’ve been reading.  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.  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, but you put the moves on Red, and I’ll kill you like a chicken.”  Heh…  Protective girlfriend.  Awesome.

Back in Scotland, Xander and Dawn discuss the parameters of magic.  Since the curse she bears came from a Thricewise, Dawn will probably go through three transformations of a mystical nature.  “Great,” grumps the younger Summers girl, flicking her silky tail, “three enchantments wherein my ass is huge.”  Heh…  She looks pretty awesome as a Centaurina, and Xander tells her so, to her surprise.  She complains that she wants to eat hay, and feels like a freak, but Xander tries to reason with her.  “There must be a non-whiny way to deal with this.”  Dawn gallops away in a tiff, and Xander returns to the castle…   only to watch it explode from Warren’s mystic nuke!  Oh… Crap.  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.)  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.  She finds herself agonizingly thrown right into the fist of Melaka Fray, the slayer of the FUTURRRRRE!  “You think you can spin me with a half-coi glam of a slayer been dust for more than two cen?  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.  I like that.  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.  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.  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.  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…  Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #16 is a 4.5 out of 5 star effort, and there’s a fist-fight a’comin.  Better board up some windows, future-women.


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Michael K
    July 24, 2008 at 11:23 am — Reply

    Nice review Matt. I have suspected all along the whole reason the Slayer’s main weapon was called a ‘scythe’ was as a set up for Willow’s comment “So it’s true then – Scythe matters.” Still, it IS used for a sort of ‘harvesting’ (of demon heads) so you should stretch the point. A little irony since episode 2 of the show was “The Harvest”.
    I suspect the identity of the mysterious Twilight is actually Jonathan. I know, I know, he’s dead! Still, he has my vote. Mainly because it would rankle Warren to end up working for him, and of course, any time there is a choice between a good and a bad outcome…

  2. steviecool
    July 24, 2008 at 8:56 pm — Reply

    There are so many interesting ways Twilight’s identity could go.
    A Buffy ex?
    A Buffy villain?
    I can’t imagine that they’d go hard-core season 1 character list.

    My guess is Giles’ brother, (Rupert?) who’s always trying to scam someone. I think he’s trying to pull a Hellblazer – if he sold his soul, but removes all magic, then he saves himself.

  3. Roy
    July 31, 2008 at 5:58 pm — Reply

    Great review! My money’s on Twilight being…..Riley. Maybe that’s because the whole “Twilight” thing reminds me of The Initiative, but still…..

    Also, with Angel: After the Fall supposedly being the end of all Angel-related stories (BOOOOOOO), does anyone think that Angel & Co. will show up in the pages of Buffy?

  4. August 21, 2008 at 9:09 pm — Reply

    Im on board with the Riley. In the comics, Twilight is dipicted as tall so I don’t feel the Jonathan theory. Knowing Whendon story arcs, it could be a female, instead of a male…so why not bring back Tara? She could be wanting to end all magic because of what happened with Willow and after her (Tara’s) death, the animosity she holds that someone as pure, innocent and sweet as Willow became a perfect entity of evil, Dark Willow.

    Another interesting theory is having it be Andrew. The constant use of the word “Slayer” instead of Buffy is typical of fanboyish type of thing and it would be a TOTAL swerve. Plus, only people who used the word “Slayer” was typically vampires and since the two only surviving main vampiric characters left (Angel and Spike) are both ensouled (one human!) and in the Angel: After the Fall arc.

    Maybe its Xander from the future? Trying to destroy magic and stop Buffy from bringing a desitute future about, but wearing a mask so that Buffy won’t know it is he who is fighting her.

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