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Fray the Future Vampire Slayer

on Mon, 12/27/2010 - 00:00

When Joss Whedon, an avid comic book fan, decided to craft his first original work for the graphic medium, he instinctively turned to the worlds he had created in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. With both of those shows still going strong on network television at the time, however, he feared tampering with their mythology by exploring storylines that might eventually make their way to the small screen. To alleviate such concerns, Whedon decided to take the concept of the slayer as personified by Buffy Summers and transplant it hundreds-of-years into the future. Freed of the visual limitations of television, meanwhile, he in turn crafted a world filled with flying cars, human mutants and futuristic landscapes along the likes of Blade Runner and The Fifth Element. Within that setting, Joss Whedon then placed a new character worthy of standing alongside his previous creations—Melaka Fray, vampire slayer of the future.

The world of Fray is drastically different than the world of Buffy, and not just in the technological sense of containing flying cars. It turns out that “evil” was banished from Earth early in the Twenty First Century, with all remnants of demons and magick erased from the planet in the process. “There was a battle,” it is explained in Fray. “A slayer, possibly with some mystical allies, faced an apocalyptic army of demons. And when it was done, they were gone.” That hasn’t stopped the demons from attempting to reenter this dimension, however, as vampires—now known as “lurks”—have somehow found a way back while hordes of other supernatural beings wait for the “gateway” to reopen so that they can cross over as well.

Although the “evil” personified by demons may have been expelled from Earth, the planet has not necessarily become a better place. The divisions between the rich and the poor have grown even more dramatic, with the “uppers” reserved for the wealthy while the poor are regulated to the slums of Versi, struggling to survive on meager earnings. “If you’re down on your luck, or looking to hide, this is the place,” Fray says of Versi. “A lot of drifters, guys in-and-out in a week, on their way to somewhere better. As, for example, the grave. Versi is the kind of place the kids in the uppers have never even read about. It isn’t safe, and it isn’t clean.”

It is within this seedy environment of Versi that Melaka Fray resides. Her twin brother Harth died at a young age and older sister Erin inevitably blamed Melaka for his death. While Erin escaped Versi by becoming an officer of the law, her younger sibling stayed and turned to a life of crime in order to sustain her loner lifestyle. Although unaware of her status as a slayer—“I’m good at stuff,” she rationalizes—the physical skills and abilities that go along with the job make Fray adept at stealing, something she does quite regularly for Gunther, a human who has mutated into part fish due to excessive radiation in the atmosphere.

The existence of Melaka Fray has raised red flags throughout the demon world, as no slayer had been called for centuries due to the eviction of all supernatural evil from the Earth dimension. With the increasing number of vampires/lurks on the rise, however, nature has apparently resurrected the slayer gene to recreate balance on the planet once again. Unlike previous slayers, however, Fray does not possess the dreams and intuition that goes along with being “chosen” and the Watchers Council has been reduced to “fanatics and fools.” Sensing an impending apocalypse that would be detrimental to their dimensions as well, a group of elder demons send their own emissary to train and prepare Melaka Fray for the upcoming battle.

Fray had a run-in with a neo-Nazi vampire years earlier. In order to survive in the slums of Versi, the young Melaka often resorted to stealing food for her family. On one such snatch-and-grab, she took along brother Harth only to come face-to-face with Icarus, the leader of a pack of vampires. Fray attempted to fight her way out of the ambush but was thrown off a building instead. Harth, however, was not so lucky and fell victim to Icarus. The encounter had a deep psychological effect on Melaka Fray, making vampires in general and Icarus in particular the centerpiece of her own personal nightmares.

It turns out that those nightmares are worse than she could have ever imagined. Harth was not merely Melaka’s brother but her twin brother—an unheard of anomaly when it comes to the slayer line. While Melaka Fray received the strength and physical skills of a slayer, it was Harth who acquired the dreams and knowledge of her predecessors. Thus when Icarus sank his teeth into the brother’s neck, Harth instinctively knew what he needed to do in order to survive—bite the vampire back and drink its blood. Armed with the knowledge of the past that was meant for a slayer, vampire Harth rose to leader of the lurks and set in motion his own plan to reopen the “gateway” between Earth and the demon dimensions.

Melaka Fray may be the first vampire slayer in centuries but she is an incomplete one at best. Her loner persona, estrangement with sister Erin, guilt over what happened to Harth and shady criminal background only add to the problem. But like Buffy Summers before her, Melaka Fray also has an internal strength and determination to defy the odds. She has been doing it her entire life, after all. Fray also knows how to improvise—brother Harth may have the knowledge of slayers past but fails to consider the unique resourcefulness of sister Melaka. During the climactic battle between the two, Harth escapes but not before witnessing Fray the Vampire Slayer defeat his nefarious plans.

That is not to say that Melaka Fray is a Buffy Summers clone. Although she may have the wit and snappy-comeback abilities of her predecessor—as well as the unpredictable nature of another slayer from the television series, Faith Lehane—she is a unique and well-crafted character in her own right. While Buffy’s strength is her surrogate family of friends, Melaka Fray is a loner who has accepted her fate, not only of being a resident on the wrong side of the tracks but of her newly found “chosen” status as well.

“They’ll be watching,” Fray tells herself in the end. “The demons, Harth. Things I don’t even know yet. They’ll all be waiting. Waiting for me to fall. So come on, guys. I’m just one girl. No big hero, no protector of justice, not even a bona fide 100-percent slayer. Take me on. Hurt my world. I dare you.”

Vampires of the future, beware—there’s a new slayer in town, and she’s ready.

Anthony Letizia

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