The first thing I’d like to say about Fray is simply that I loved this comic book so much, I actually started reading it all over again right after finishing it. I really wished the story of Fray would have continued into an ongoing series — but for now it's just this first volume. Secondly, this comic book reaches out to Buffy’s (the TV show) fans, and if you have watched and liked Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, then you will fully enjoy Fray. I’m guessing newcomers who like the concept of vampires in the future – and a tough young girl (needless to say, beautiful) slaying them — will enjoy this comic just as well, only not as fanatically as I did. But let’s get down to the review already.
Couple of hundreds years in the future, Melaka Fray is the latest slayer in the broken and forgotten line of slayers. The vampires are now known as "lurks" (cause they just lurk in the city sewers, I guess), and for the people of the future city of Haddyn, they are nothing but another kind of mutated freak. Oblivious to her own slayerish nature, Melaka works for a fish-like, mutated human gangsta boss whom she grabs for (that's "stealing" in future lingo).
Instead of a traditional watcher to guide her (the watchers have all taken the fanatically insane road), Melaka gets the mighty demon Urkonn as a mentor and friend. Obviously, Urkonn has his own disturbing agenda, hidden reasons and hideous looks, and he's not at all sweets and hugs. Melaka also has one more friend, the girl Loo. Loo is a mutated chatty little girl that Melaka occasionally looks after and protects.
The story begins as Melaka is thrown off a building roof top in the middle of a grab-job, by other grabbers of another boss, and so are the readers thrown as well into the fast and witty action story. This comic encompasses all that you would expect from Joss Whedon — smart, funny, surprising.
The art created by the penciller Karl Moline, inker Andy Owens and colorists Dave Stewart and Michelle Madsen, who's also the letterer, has its own definite charm and is very beautiful, though, from time to time, I felt that the visuals lack intensity and expressiveness. Maybe it's because the depicted vampires were neither as scary nor as unique, not even their leader Icarus. Or maybe, it’s because the expressions on the characters' faces were limited to a few recurring ones.
There were also things that I really liked about the art:
The sceneries from the urban future reminded me a little of the style of Blade Runner, with the low tech city slums and the flying cars, only less bluish and dreamy, and more browny and dirty. Also differing from Blade Runner, the buildings of the futuristic city Haddyn are more like the buildings of Manhattan today, only ruined. The urban scape depicted is detailed enough to create a reliable sense of a possible future, shown from accurate perspectives, and nicely enough, it often takes the readers to roof-top views of the city, which is a lot of fun.
The demon Urkonn, Fray's trainer and ally, is a huge sized goat creature with large goat horns and a scary exposed skull-like nose and jaws, which I thought was very appropriate and impressive, a nice dark and devilish contrast to the traditional watcher role.
At the end of the volume, we get some extra beautiful sketches which show the initial design study of the various characters. There's also a beautiful sketch of Buffy, comparing her to Fray, which I stared at for a while since it was a really really good sketch of Buffy.
Bottom line, Fray is an excellent comic book, a refreshing visit to the Buffyverse, and I'm pretty sure that every Buffy fan would just die for this comic, but non-fans would probably appreciate it too.