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Joss Whedonís Fray #7 By Matt Martin
Dark Horse Comics Ė Joss Whedon (w); Karl Moline (p); Andy Owens (i)
Some comics are worth waiting for, no matter how long that wait may be. The Ultimates, obviously, is the first example that springs to mind. Youíre well aware that Millar, Hitch and Marvel are making absolutely no promises about how regular that book is going to ship; rather, youíre simply assured that when it does see the light of day, itíll kick ass and thatís all you should need to know. As another example, any time Alan Moore writes anything, like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for instance, itís going to be worth your patience. Even on his very worst day, Moore is heads and shoulders above the vast majority of writers out there, so no problem there. You know that in advance and you know the schedule on his books usually slips.
Now, Dark Knight Strikes Again, on the other hand. That was a book that was not worth the wait. It was a title that inexplicably slipped off the shipping radar, whose tardiness was never explained. And then when it did finally ship, it just left you wondering, ďThis? This is what I waited all those months for?Ē You canít figure out what took so long, because surely it canít take too much time to crank out a lousy book (Frank Tieri is a hemorrhoid on the industryís ass and even he can meet a monthly schedule).
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This is all by way of introduction to this issue of Fray, in case you were wondering about the tangent. Itís relevant because, by my figuring, this book is well over a year late.
So which camp does Fray fall into? Letís put it this way: it might as well be called Joss Whedonís Buffy the Vampire Slayer Strikes Again.
Itís amusing though, to find all the things that are wrong, production-wise, with this book. I mean really, after more than a yearís worth of delays, Dark Horse couldnít even be bothered to include a summary page on the inside cover? Would that have been too much to ask? Because, to be honest about it, I can barely remember whatís going on in this book. And hence, I just donít care.
However, if youíre a current (or former, really) follower of the television series that this serves as an unofficial sequel to, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, youíll be more than familiar with the seriesí plot. Basically, thereís a bad guy and heís going to open a portal to Hell. When that portalís opened, demons will come screaming out the gate and consume the souls of those living in the physical world. Naturally, only one person has the strength to stop that from happening. In this case, the good guy (or girl, as the case may be) is Melaka Fray, the post-apocalyptic version of Buffy, and the bad guy is her brother (now a vampire), Harth. And while it always looks like the odds are in favor of the forces of evil, thereís a reasonable assurance that, in the end, good will triumph (though undoubtedly some sacrifices will have to be made, for melodramaís sake).
Essentially though, you can substitute Buffy for Fray and any number of the tv showís villains for Harth and the plot remains the same. Itís just so terribly archetypical and even more amusing when you figure that the primary complaint of the rabid legion of Buffy fans is that the show has long since run out of good ideas and begun rehashing itself to death.
So what happens this issue? Not much. Thereís some pseudo-dramatic speechifying, some pop culture references, an army of vampires (opposed by a small force of veritable pitchfork waving villagers), and a big snake-like monster that Harth rides about the city.
To boot, apparently after all this time, the only issue that Whedon actually had in the can was this one. You would hope that he could have managed to write both of the missing issues during the interim, but evidently thatís not so, as the final page claims that the concluding issue will ship in June (yeah, right). Worst of all, thereís no apology or explanation of any sort of the excessive delays. Rather, the letter column simply chugs along like there was no gap whatsoever between issues.
In the end, once you get over the disappointment that this was the best Whedon could produce with over a year to resolve the story, Fray stands as a very pretty, moderately entertaining (in a lowbrow sort of way) action book. Thatís about the most positive thing I can say about the book.