Or – “Marty!Â It’s Your KIDS, Marty!”
Time travel stories generally make my head hurt.Â Since I’m an avowed fan of Doctor Who and the Legion of Super-Heroes, though, I have a tendency to muddle through the various threads of time-track paradoxy blah blah blah fishcakesÂ and just roll with the punches.Â Consider this, though:Â Melaka Fray was, chronologically, the first Slayer to be portrayed to us in possession of the big red scythe (which isn’t a scythe.)Â But Melaka Fray doesn’t exist until hundreds of years in our future, long after Buffy Summers, who found the weapon later, from our perspective, but actually was created first.Â Is it a retcon or is it fate?Â Only her colorist knows for sure, but right now, Buffy has to go… BACK TO THE FUTURE!!!
Previously, on Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Season 8:Â A mysterious group called Twilight has embarked on a course to destroy all the Slayers, seemingly operating under the theory that a group of super-powerful women with their own agenda and essentially unlimited resources is dangerous.Â Hooda thunkit?Â With her relationship with fellow slayer Satsu over, (Buffy really does need to ignore her heart/libido for the rest of her natural lifetime, doesn’t she?) the head slayer set out for New York City, the center of the universe.Â Xander has stayed behind in the castle in the Scottish highlands, while Willow and her girl Kennedy accompanied the Buffster on her trip to NYC, but with a poof of chronal energy, Buffy is gone, leaving behind a monster.Â Of course, that leaves Willow barely as stunned as Buffy, who gets ironically attacked by a young woman with super-powers speaking a language she barely understands.Â I imagine that she’s wondering if this is how Giles felt all these years?
We start off with a bang, as Fray and her faithful sidekick (no, I really don’t know her name) races through the skies of New York, with flying cars reminding me of Coruscant in the prequel films to Star Wars.Â Fray leaps into action against a vampire (she calls them “lurks”) while her partner is left behind to take out the ship’s navigations.Â Fray pins the creature down, and forces him to tell her where Harth (her fraternal twin) has gone, but the creature just babbles about “the dark-haired one.”Â “She’s lived for centures, speaks in riddles and strange voices…Â He calls her the black hope.”Â Oh, no…Â Fray dusts him and leaps back to her ride, then heads home to do some research.Â She heads back to her unofficial headquarters, and begins going through the years of journals there, knowing she’s read something strange about a madwoman before…
Across town somewhere, her brother Harth and his dark mistress convene, he talking about his dreams, she talking about their destiny.Â “Tonight…Â The princess leaves her kingdom for the forest of the now,” says the woman in shadows, and Harth can’t understand why she wants “the princess” to meet his sister, thinking them more dangerous together.Â “Vampires gain strength from each other…Â Slayers, ultimately, don’t,” replies the wise woman.Â “What happens in your tim with cause your time to come, do you see?”Â Um, no.Â I kinda don’t.Â Back in the past, Willow and Kennedy wrap up the strange monster that took Buffy’s place, and Willow realizes that, somehow, the thing came from the future, which means, “this is my fault.”
Last issue, Slayer castle was blowed up real good, and Xander manages to bust back through to the underground command center.Â Xander manages to find out that more than half a dozen of his soldiers seem to have been killed in the blast, but as one of the survivors starts to tear up, Xander shows an unusual degree of restraint.Â “Soldiers die, Rowena…Â They do it all the time.”Â He quickly leaps into action as the bright green flames start to form magical warriors out of nothing.Â He orders his Slayers to evacuate, taking a mystical arrow in the shoulder.Â As the monsters advance on him, Xan’s eyes widen in horror… but not for the reason you might think.Â “Snakes… green… fire…Â I can’t believe I don’t have a pun.”Â At the last second, though, the monster is kicked in the head by Dawn-the-centaur.Â They realize that the only way out is to do the unthinkable…Â We cut to Dawn racing away at full gallop, with Xander on her back.Â “You’re pulling my hair!” she screams, and he replies, “I’m holding your mane!”Â “My mane IS my hair!!” she retorts… Heh.Â
Back in New York, Willow hosts a combination flashback/flash forward as she figures out that the monster must have engaged Fray in combat, then someone teleported Buffy forward into his place, enacting a fight between Buffy and Melaka.Â The scene that ended last issue, with Fray throwing Summers off a building into traffic continues her, as they both crash onto a car, and Fray attacks.Â “Okay… Okay.Â Stop… Please…Â STOP SLAYING ME!!” yells Buffy.Â HA!Â Fray accuses Buffy of being “a shifter,” and Buffy tries to communicate, but Fray isn’t interested in parlay.Â “That’s spin!Â You think I’m a slack?” she snarls.Â “PUT YOUR WORDS IN WORD PLACES, PLEASE!” yells Buffy back, as the two woman suddenly realize that they have more in common than just awesome haircuts.Â The compare notes, and Buffy realizes what must have happened.Â Fray explains that her brother got the Slayer knowledge from her package (a side effect of their twin-hood) and then was bitten by a vamp himself, making him the most dangerous vampire in this century.Â Both Slayers visit one of Fray’s information brokers to try and track him down, while, elsewhere, Harth puts his mysterious plan in motion.Â He explains to his mistress that he has to kill his syster because of their connection, to kill the last of his humanity.Â “Time.Â Only time…” she says, stepping forward and revealing herself to be…Â Willow Rosenberg.
Holy.Â Crap.Â Kinda didn’t see that one coming, I can tell you.Â This issue’s art is handled by Fray’s co-creator, Karl Moline, and he does pretty impressive work here, aside from having issues making Willow look like Alysyn Hannygyn (or however one spells it.)Â The action sequences really worked for me, and Dawn & Xander’s facial expressions during the “You’ll have to ride me” scene are hysterical.Â Buffy looks enough like Sarah Michelle that you can hear her speaking the dialogue, while Fray (who doesn’t have an actress archetype, at least that I’m aware of) looks as much like a real woman as Buffy.Â Joss plays with the Buffy conventions here, having Ms. Summers flummoxed by FRay’s language, which is essentially an extension of her own verbal fluidity, while noting that future Manhattan is more like Buffy’s idea of it that the current edition.Â It’s a very good issue, with a VERY surprising ending (though, I suppose I ain’t the first to spoilers it online) and now I’m really looking forward to what comes next.Â Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #17 earns a well-done 4 out of 5 and impresses me by giving Fray as much depth as her blonde predecessor, a feat in itself…