Created and Written: *Le Sigh* Joss Whedon
Penciller: Karl Molene, Inker: Andy Owens, Colorists: Dave Stewart & Michelle Madsen, Letterer: Michelle Madsen
Foreward by: Jeph Loeb, Foreward 2 by: Joss Whedon *Le Sigh*
Foreward 3 - Me, right here: FRAY is a trade paperback collection of the original series (8-issues). I'm going to treat each chapter in the same way I would if I had collected each issue on its own, i.e. each 'chapter' will have a review of its own.
Chapter 01 : Big City Girl
Page 01: Our setting is an obvious demonic realm. We have a demonic looking rat sitting on a demon headstone, we have a desolate landscape, and we have a black sun hanging low in the sky. We also have a red, scampering demon headed toward a cave entrance. The cave is carved like a face with a wide, screaming mouth.
The only blurb is a simple, one sentence dialog: "She is discovered."
Commentary: I want this page as a poster.
Page 02: Our little, red demon enters the cave and runs down a flight of stairs. He grabs a torch and lights a circle of flames around a huge pit.
In the pit are bodies stacked upon each other.
Voiceover tells us that someone has been found (it isn't hard to guess it is the Slayer). We find out here that if it is so, it will have been 200 years since a Slayer was activated. Our second voice assures the first that nevertheless it is so. He also tells the first voice that the WATCHERS have also located her. The first voice scoffs at this - calling them lunatics and fools.
Page 03: It is decided that the she must be intercepted and someone will be summoned to deal with it - Urkonn. We get this new Slayer's name, Melaka Fray.
Page 04 & 05: We see, obviously, Melaka falling through the air and firing a zap-gun at someones just off panel. She's clutching a necklace. She is complaining to herself that her day had started off badly and hasn't improved. We also get the idea that she has just stolen the jewelry she's clutching for someone named Gunther.
Page 06: Fray falls. Using hover cars, she tries to turn her easily fatal fall into just a painful one by turning her "big drop into lots of little ones".
Page 07: On the street, Fray is telling us that the trick is to grab things that can support her weight - as she grabs an antenna that immediately snaps and then land on your feet - which she shows us by slamming face first into the pavement.
The men she was firing at join her on the street, where she lies knocked out.
Page 08: One of the guys, a large brute of a man, picks her up by the arm and then picks her up off the ground with an arm around her neck. Fray tells us that he is an augmented human: steroids, tissue enhancement, genetic meddling - this doesn't help him.
She gets free with a sharp kick to the knee cap, scratch to the eyes and a kick to the crotch.
Page 09: The second guy draws a zapper gun, but Fray is also able to reach hers - they spin in a standard 80's action standoff with both of them pointing their weapons at the other's forehead.
The thug points out they have a stand-off. She pulls her trigger.
The electro-blast blinds the guy and Fray warns him from intruding on Gunther's territory - it appears the goons were thieves as well and were after the same "grab" as she.
Page 10: Melaka jumps up from the street to grab the undercarriage of a passing hover-bus. When she arrives at the apartment of Gunther, the doorman complains that she's late. She replies with a terse, "You're fat". She's escorted into a dark room.
Page 11: When the light turns on, we meet Gunther. He's some sort of mutant - a water breather with a tail in place of legs, purple colored, webbed hands and barbs around a face that has large, violet eyes. He has an entire room under a see through floor that Melaka stands upon that is a room sized swimming pool.
She complains that she ran into muscle on the job and he should have warned her that one of his rivals was interested in the object stolen. She demands 'hazard pay'.
Commentary: This looks neat. I love the entire 'room through the looking glass' feel in the first panel where Mel is standing and looking down through the floor at Gunther floating in his enclosed pool.
Page 12: Fray starts to negotiate for a 'half sil' for her catch, but Gunther prempts her with an off of '3 sil'.
Page 13: In the elevator with her pay (money in this time consists of jewelry - '3 sil' is three silver bracelets), Fray ponders the huge 'bonus'. She's wondering what the game is - if she's been given the bonus to bind her to him in an unspoken contract - or as severance pay of some sort.
Page 14: In the alley outside of Gunther's building, Fray sees "lurks" closing in on her. She tells herself she should run, but stands there frozen.
Page 15: The moment is broken by spotlights shining down on her and a voice ordering her to stay where she is. The voice calls her by name and orders her to stay still as a police hovercar comes in to land.
From the hovercar is an officer, a tall blond woman (I immediately thought of both Kate from Angel and Dr. Valerie Cooper, a Marvel Comics character heavily involved in the X-books.)
Page 16: The officer interrogates Fray about the earlier robbery - it seems the amulet stolen was ancient and its holder was a senator. It also seems obvious that Fray and the detective have some sort of history with one another.
Page 17: The police woman points out all of the money that Melaka is wearing (the silver bracelets), but Fray turns it on her asking her facetiously if she's looking for bribes. She mentions that since she made it up to the 'uppers', Mel thought she'd gone strictly credits.
We find out that the police woman is Erin. And, that she's concerned with Mel's lifestyle. Mel tells her to butt out.
It's obvious that they've known each other since childhood by this point.
Page 18: We find out now that Erin is Erin Fray, sister to Melaka Fray. Mel yells at her for continuing to butt into her life and that she can take care of herself.
Erin responds, "Last I checked, you weren't very good at taking care of anyone."
Mel gets a shocked look on her face and we see a grey flashback of her running hand in hand with a young man. She narrows her eyes at her sister, "You bitch."
She storms off without another word.
Page 19: When Mel returns home to a 'warren', basically a slum, she's accosted by a pre-puberty girl she calls Loo. Loo is a motormouth, with one arm and a blind eye. She seems very well adjusted though, if hyper, and she's excited to talk all about her day. In her rambling she mentions a strange, bald man who asked after her, but she's proud to report that she told the man she'd never heard of Fray.
As she bubbles on and Mel tries to get more information about the man, Loo points out he's standing behind her.
The man is dripping wet.
Page 20: When Mel asks what he wants - he tells her she is the Chosen One (of those "lunatic and fools" Watchers?) and she's been called to save them all.
Loo tries to tell Mel that the man smells, but she's busy trying to tell the guy she thinks he has the wrong person. He's still soaking wet and liquid is pooling at his feet.
Behind her, Loo says that he smells like gas.
The man - the Watcher - tells Fray that she'll cleanse them with fire - and strikes a match. He goes up like a roman candle, self-immolating.
Commentary: Giving justification for the demons in the opening to view them with scorn....
Page 21: Fray reacts quickly, grabbing a torn up bit of tarp from the ground and diving on top of the man. They both end up in a river (this is Manhattan, so this would be the Hudson), but when she surfaces, he's floating face down in the water.
Vowing not to let this weird incident get to her, she goes home for the night, leaving Loo to herself.
Page 22: But when she comes in the door, we see over her shoulder a huge, hulking, red devil -- Urkonn.
The Good: The world building is excellent. We see and hear enough to get the feeling for a slighty dystopian future.
Fray is given a strong personality and we already get a complicated family history. We know she's a thief, Erin is her sister and has made her way up in the police department. They have a negative history with one another and there is something involving another young man in the past. I'll slightly spoiler it and tell you it's a brother.
I like the designs of Urkonn and Gunther.
In fact, the artwork is strong.
The Bad: Nothing is badly done.
Other Thoughts: The first chapter in this tale is good with the world building, but other than the mysterious Watcher setting himself ablaze and the weird and generous offer from Gunther for the necklace, there isn't much that happens. That made commentary very slight and makes it difficult to score.
The Score: Since this is all set up, doing a good job of giving us a sense of Melaka, but it's hard to know what exactly is happening - 3.0 out of 5.